A Brief History of the Como Park Conservatory


The Como Park Conservatory has always been one of my favorite places in the city. In fact, not only did I insist on dragging my family there to take my senior prom photos, but I was also married there. A lush and fragrant setting, the gardens create a tropical paradise regardless of the weather outside.

como park conservatory play days sculpture


The Conservatory was the vision of Frederick Nussbaumer, St. Paul superintendent of parks from 1891 to 1922. After decades of dreaming and lobbying, the 60,000 square foot greenhouse opened its doors on November 7, 1915. Renamed the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in 2002, it is on the National Register of Historic Sites and is one of the few remaining original Victorian style glasshouses in North America.

como park conservatory sunken garden


While the collection of tropical plants, palms, ferns, orchids and five seasonal flower displays each year are reason alone to visit, my favorite attractions are the bronze sculptures by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth. The delicate grace and innocent joy that they capture have always captivated me.

play days sculpture by harriet frishmuth
Play Day (1925)

Born in Philadelphia in 1880, Frishmuth studied in Paris with Auguste Rodin. Known for her graceful figures and lively naturalism, her favorite model was the American dancer Desha Delteil. Harriet Frishman’s Crest the Wave sculpture that can be seen at the Conservatory is considered one of her finest achievements.

crest the wave by harriet frishmuth
Crest the Wave (1925)

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By Heidi Van Heel
Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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