The Conservatory - Use and Ornamentation

The Conservatory

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Use and Ornamentation

Thought to date from the 1840s, this view shows the conservatory from the northwest.

Its core featured gothic revival-style arches and ornament, a large and impressive arched entry, and a clerestory row of windows above. Symmetrical wings, each with a verandah, flanked the core.

As drawn by Alexander Jackson Davis, the northern wing, with its vertical siding and bracketed windows, resembles a cottage. It may have served as a joint living and working space for the gardener who kept constant watch over the conservatory’s heating system during the colder months. Interestingly, the two chimney stacks seen here do not appear in any of the photographs of the conservatory. Perhaps stand-alone stoves with stove pipes, rather than fireplaces and chimneys, heated the conservatory.

Andrew Jackson Downing observed that in summer “the more delicate green-house plants” were arranged on the north side of the conservatory for their protection, perhaps referring to the row of potted plants seen here along the foundation.

The Montgomery Place Conservatory, by Alexander Jackson Davis. Pencil on paper, c. 1840. Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

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