Sunnyside Conservatory

I've been driving by the Sunnyside Conservatory a lot lately and I thought I should stop in for a visit. I've been here once before a few years ago, before the grounds and structure were renovated, when it wasn't very bloggable.

The Conservatory was built in the late 19th century by a couple of avid gardeners and plant collectors who first purchased this land before this part of San Francisco was much developed. Within 20 years, they'd moved on, the land was subdivided, and the gardens fell into disrepair. A subsequent property owner "discovered" the conservatory in 1919 while clearing away brush. As the structure was not mentioned on the deed, it had essentially been forgotten. The property passed through various hands before the City declared it a landmark in the 1970s, responding to neighborhood pressure. Only last year was it fully renovated and made beautiful.











I believe the taller trees are the only plants dating from the original garden.


That's a Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis).


And there's a large Araucaria heterophylla, a genus popular among California's Victorians.


Old trees have interesting trunks.

Araucaria trunk

And the leaf litter is kinda different too.

Araucaria litter

A few of the tree ferns seem old too,


judging by the trunks.


What do you think about the Conservatory's door handles?


Inside today:


Inside, a long time ago:


A glimpse of the original garden:


Another remnant of former property lines. Steps to nowhere. I like.


These sculptures in a few places are weird and groovy. I wonder if they have some Victorian connection I'm not aware of.



Germi said...

OH!!! What a treasure! You stumbled across an INCREDIBLE PLACE!
and those little victorian sculptures remind me of my french bulldogs.
Is this in SF? I must visit next time I go up - the details are so amazing!

Anonymous said...

fabulous place!
thanks for the info and photos.

Kaveh Maguire said...

Ooh I love the sculptures. Especially that last frogbulldogfishmutant thing.

Anonymous said...

Looks like they have done a great job with the reno. The plantings are lovely and those sculptures fabulous, whether Victorian or not. Love it!

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Thanks for the tour. I remember the SF Chron story when it re-opened, but have not seen anything about it since. Elegant and quirky choices!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Wonderfully odd...in a way that must have required a lot of money.

Bonnie Story said...

Another amazing post, kind sir. The aloe blossoms are so heartwarming for me. I had a small colony of those in CA and the hummingbirds delighting in their nectar was so cool to watch. Really great pics, will come back to mull them when I can grab some mo' time later. Beautiful shots of an extraordinary place. So glad it didn't just rot and get bulldozed.

Megan said...

Had no idea this place even existed! Just checked out their website and I've been ogling their awesome median strip for months now. I drive by it at least five times a week for work, and had no idea it was there. Thanks so much for the post!