About the Conservatory

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Our Mission

The mission of the H.P. Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens is to foster an appreciation and understanding of plants from around the world and the vital roles they play in our lives. To achieve this mission, we welcome visitors to enjoy the Conservatory in a variety of ways.

Visitors are welcome to explore and enjoy the Conservatory on their own; however, guided tours of the Conservatory can be arranged for adult groups.

The Conservatory and the Baltimore City Horticultural Division present two annual floral displays:

Spring Display

Celebrate the vibrant hues of spring with our annual Spring Display at the Conservatory. Delight in a kaleidoscope of colors as tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and grape hyacinths paint a picture of seasonal beauty.

Holiday Display

Experience the magic of the season with our annual holiday display, featuring stunning poinsettias arranged throughout the Conservatory. Join us in celebrating this cherished tradition and create unforgettable memories with loved ones.

Our History

Established in 1888 as the Druid Hill Conservatory, the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory has grown from the original Palm House and Orchid Room to include three greenhouses, two display pavilions, and outdoor gardens. 

In 1874, Baltimore City park commissioners designated sufficient ground and proposed to establish a botanical conservatory in Druid Hill Park. The committee also directed George A. Frederick, the park architect, to design and make plans for the new building. Mr. Abbott Kenny, a member of the committee for the conservatory, traveled to Europe to visit the famous Kew Gardens of London, a model for the new design.

The idea was abandoned but was revived in 1885. The plan called for a structure of iron and wood with a Palm House at its center. The building would be built using Baltimore workmen. The Conservatory opened Aug. 26, 1888, to a well-received audience of about 300 visitors.

Holding steady through the years, the affectionately named Baltimore Conservatory was closed to the public in 2002 for a major renovation. The newly redesigned production houses were to include a Mediterranean House, a Tropical House and Desert House. The conservatory re-opened Sept. 24, 2004, and shortly thereafter its official name was changed by law to The Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, in honor of the former Maryland House of Appropriations chairperson Pete Rawlings.

The Conservatory is the second-oldest iron framed-and-glass building still in use in the United States.

Get Involved

As in the past, the future of the H.P. Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens depends on its volunteers and donors. Both play a critical role in maintaining the Conservatory’s mission to enrich the lives of all who visit–as a unique center where education, culture, and nature intertwine.
Here’s how you can get involved.