Conservatory of Flowers & Cliff House

Conservatory of Flowers

Bruce & I celebrated our 41st Wedding Anniversary on March 18th.  Since we are back in the Bay Area we decided to visit The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park for the day.  Even though we lived in the Bay Area for most of our lives we had never gone through it.

CF6The Conservatory is a huge greenhouse which contains exotic plants from all over the world.  Its the oldest building in Golden Gate Park.  It was built in 1878, and is the oldest conservatory left in the country.

Evidently it originated as a kit that may have been constructed in England.  The kit was purchased by James Lick, an extremely wealthy man who had came to California during the gold rush time.  He didn’t make his fortune in mining gold but through acquiring and selling property around San Francisco.

He built an opulent hotel in San Francisco, which was called the Lick house. Its claim to fame was a dining room structured after one in The Palace of Versailles. He died before he was able to construct the conservatory in San Jose, as he had planned.  After his death the kit was purchased and moved to San Francisco, where it was at last put together.

James Lick also constructed the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, above San Jose. This is another day trip we have taken.  The views are amazing, and the guided tour is an informative look into the past history of the Bay Area and astronomy.  It can be very windy on  Mount Hamilton, so bring a warm coat, even in the summer.




The Cliff House


We went to dinner at The Cliff House.  This was also a first for us.  We had driven by it many times, had heard that the food was excellent and the view of the ocean breathtaking.

Cliff House 1The Cliff House has 2 restaurants, The Sutro and a Bistro.  We arrived right after lunch and before dinner seating, so we had a drink to pass the time in the lounge.

Cliff house 11We were then seated in the Bistro right by the window.  The waitress said that three whales had been spotted from the restaurant that day.

We didn’t see a whale, but enjoyed watching the surfers, pelicans, and other birds.  The food was very good and the waitress couldn’t have been more attentive.

The builder we most associate with the Cliff House, Adolph Sutro, reminds me somewhat of James Lick, in that he was into building the biggest and most fantastic attractions of his time.  He was actually the third owner/builder of the structure.  The second Cliff House was destroyed by fire on Christmas day, 1894.

Cliff house 10

After Adolph Sutro bought the property he rebuilt The Cliff House and people referred to it as The Gingerbread Palace.  He also began work on the Sutro Baths, just north of The Cliff House.  The Sutro Baths had six indoor swimming pools, which were the largest in the world,  as well as a skating rink and other amenities.Cliff House 5

Cliff House 3

I can’t imagine how it must have been to have seen the Sutro Baths in their heyday.  I don’t think it was socially acceptable for women to swim at that time, but it must have been great for the males.  San Francisco is usually always cold and breezy so the indoor pools must have been a huge draw for water lovers.

I’m going to tackle a sewing project in my next post, so people don’t wonder why in the world I call it Sewing My Way Through the USA.  Getting this website up and running has been a full time job this past week or so, but hopefully now I have the major part of it figured out.

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And remember: Life is made up of the small things.  Enjoy them!