Jewel of Como
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory
by Leigh Roethke and Bonnie Blodgett
Dimensions: 10.5" x 10.5", 120 pages, 110+ color and b/w illustrations
JEWEL OF COMO celebrates one of the most beloved buildings in Minnesota and, from the standpoint of horticulture and architecture, one of the most important in the world. This stunning new book published by the Afton Historical Society Press tells the story of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, in words and pictures–breathtaking color photos of the conservatory today as well as historic photos that bring to life its rich and sometimes tumultuous past.
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory (originally called the Como Conservatory) is the centerpiece of Como Park. Designed and built in 1915, the conservatory was intended to serve two functions, as it still does today. The conservatory is both a show house where visitors can come in all seasons to enjoy tropical and semi-tropical splendors, and a shelter for the many plants the park displays in its indoor and outdoor gardens.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the conservatory has survived over the years through the efforts of devoted volunteers and donors who recognized it as an endangered species. In this way it is just like the plants whose preservation is an important mission of staff gardeners. Vast fern, bromeliad, and orchid (to name a few) collections are housed in the building’s Palm Dome, North Garden and Sunken Garden, as well as the spectacular Tropical Encounters exhibit in the new Visitor and Information Center. With a large contribution from the McNeely family in 2002, in memory of plant lover Marjorie McNeely, the work continues both on and in a building whose future shines brighter than ever before.