Mitchell Park Time Machine 1895-1955

The origins of Milwaukee's famous 'Domes' stretch back over 120 years — get to know the history of the Milwaukee's horticultural conservatory.

Mitchell Park Sunken Gardens (1914) by Milwaukee County ParksMilwaukee County Parks

Mitchell Park was one of the first parks created as part of the Milwaukee Parks Commission, and the horticultural conservatory soon became one of the city's top attractions.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory entranceMilwaukee County Parks

The glass conservatory, inspired by London's famous Crystal Palace, opened to the public in 1899...

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory sunken gardens 1921 (1921)Milwaukee County Parks

...and a sunken garden with formal flower beds were inspired by the gardens of English stately homes.

Layton Blvd north from pierce stMilwaukee County Parks

As well as developing land in the park, the parks commission also developed scenic boulevards leading to the park. This section of Layton Boulevard in 1918 shows the street car tracks.

Layton Boulevard looking South from National Avenue (1914) by Jos Brown PhotographyMilwaukee County Parks

This section of Layton Boulevard in 1914, shows a fully completed street.

Concert crowd in Mitchell ParkMilwaukee County Parks

Mitchell Park was also a popular destination for boating and for free musical performances, which were attended by huge crowds.

Concert crowd in Mitchell ParkMilwaukee County Parks

Concerts were often sponsored by the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company operators to encourage people to use their street car service.

Mitchell Park dance pavilionMilwaukee County Parks

A concert and dance pavilion was built next to the boating lagoon...

Mitchell Park dance pavilionMilwaukee County Parks

...the dance pavilion was used for outdoor events until it was replaced in the 1960s.

Juneau replica log houseMilwaukee County Parks

Mitchell Park was also the original site of the Solomon Juneau replica log house. Juneau was a fur trader and one of Milwaukee's founders. The replica cabin is now in Juneau Park.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory displayMilwaukee County Parks

Inside the conservatory visitors could explore seasonal flower shows...

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory entry to palm houseMilwaukee County Parks

...as well as a palm garden. The iron gates shown here, designed by artist and blacksmith Cyril Colnik, are still on display in the Mitchell Park Domes.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory center rotunda palms (1918) by Jos Brown PhotographyMilwaukee County Parks

The center rotunda in 1920.

Spanish moss in Mitchell Park Horticultural ConservatoryMilwaukee County Parks

Spanish moss hanging from the roof of the conservatory.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory EastMilwaukee County Parks

The east section of the conservatory in 1920.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory chrysanthemum show 1916 (1916)Milwaukee County Parks

Chrysanthemum display in November 1916.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory central rotunda 1923 (1923)Milwaukee County Parks

The center rotunda in March 1923.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory in colorMilwaukee County Parks

Visitor numbers to the conservatory began to decline in the 1940s and 1950s.

Mitchell Park Conservatory in color 1950sMilwaukee County Parks

These color photos are likely from the early 1950s, shortly before the conservatory was razed in 1955.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (1970)Milwaukee County Parks

The Mitchell Park Domes replaced the original conservatory and opened to the public in 1968.

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