Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Updated on April 9, 2018
Peggy W profile image

I spent my early childhood in Wisconsin and later four years when my husband's job took him there. It is a beautiful and scenic state!

Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Source

Among other things, Milwaukee is known for its wonderful parks and gardens. The star attraction in their collection is definitely the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, which residents lovingly refer to as "The Domes."

Almost everywhere one travels in Milwaukee the esplanades are artfully landscaped in addition to what they achieve in the parks. In the summertime, bright blooming flowers are sure to catch one's eye and brighten even the darkest of days. Who doesn't appreciate a montage of mixed and colorful beauties alongside the road?

The Milwaukee County Parks received a Gold Medal Award by the National Recreation and Park Association for their management program. Thus it is not just my observation that Milwaukee excels in their horticultural endeavors. They have been singled out and recognized for their successful efforts in helping to make that midwest city that sits on the banks of Lake Michigan most attractive.

Most people that go to this park like to visit the inside of the domes. Since Wisconsin is located in the snow belt and for many months of the year, the grounds are often covered with an accumulation of icy white snow crystals, making the warm interiors of the domes even more inviting.

Mitchell Park Domes
Mitchell Park Domes | Source

History of The Domes

The original conservatory in that location was built in 1898 but the on-site greenhouse needed so much repair that it was decided to demolish it in 1955 and build something new instead.

A local architect Donald Grieb was consulted and he successfully bid upon and was hired for the new project. He designed three beehive-shaped domes to replace the old greenhouse. The total cost was 4.5 million dollars, and it was completed in 1967.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Another outside view of one of the domes and landscaping outside of the Mitchell Park Domes.Landscaping outside of the Mitchell Park Domes.
Another outside view of one of the domes and landscaping outside of the Mitchell Park Domes.
Another outside view of one of the domes and landscaping outside of the Mitchell Park Domes. | Source
Landscaping outside of the Mitchell Park Domes.
Landscaping outside of the Mitchell Park Domes. | Source

Each dome is 140 feet in diameter at the base and is 85 feet in height providing 15,000 square feet of space in which to house the plants, birds, water elements and the like. The entire park now consists of 60 acres.

The exterior grounds are also nicely landscaped, although the sunken garden feature that we enjoyed many years ago was removed in the 1980s due to budget cuts. You can see what the sunken gardens looked like in an old postcard below as well as my photo at the top of this page.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Postcard photo of Mitchell Park Domes in MilwaukeePostcard photo of Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee
Postcard photo of Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee
Postcard photo of Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee | Source
Postcard photo of Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee
Postcard photo of Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee | Source

Postcards From The Domes

This same information posted below is on the back of both oversized postcards shown above.

"The unique, space-age "Domes" of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, in Milwaukee, duplicate climates and plant communities from around the world. In addition to the Tropical and Arid Domes, the "Show Dome" presents exciting displays of horticultural beauty.

The Conservatory is located at South Layton Boulevard (South 27th St.) and W. Pierce Street. It is open to the public from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. daily and weekends, except on Monday when closing is at 5:00 P.M.

A MAJOR UNIT OF THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY PARK SYSTEM

Published by CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS * Milwaukee 53213"

Old postcard photo of the MItchell Park Domes
Old postcard photo of the MItchell Park Domes | Source

Written on back of the postcard shown above is the following:

"Displayed in these domes are varieties of living trees, shrubs, cacti, and flowering plants from all continents. Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A MAJOR UNIT OF THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY PARK SYSTEM"

Hours and Admission

The normal hours of operation are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday and 9 AM to 4 PM Saturdays and Sundays. The hours are extended beginning October 1st and help to accommodate more visitors throughout the holiday season.

Ticket prices are low and range from $5.50 to $8.00 and admission is free to Milwaukee County residents on Monday mornings.

The Domes are also opened from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a variety of live musical entertainment from October to November and January to March. The same ticket prices apply.

40 Seconds In...this Videotaped Light Show Really Takes Off...

Musical Groups and Light Shows Inside the Domes

I have personally never seen the musical groups performing nor the light shows that are shown during the breaks and at the end of each performance. I do not believe that these extras were in effect when we lived in Wisconsin and visited the Milwaukee area.

What a beautiful sight that must be with the outside grounds blanketed in white snow with the glass domes lit up in intermittent jewel toned colors pulsing to the music!

Arid Dome / Mitchell Park Domes / Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My husband and mother-in-law in the Arid Dome many years ago when we visited Mitchell Park.Another view inside the Arid DomeInside the Arid DomeInside the Arid Dome
My husband and mother-in-law in the Arid Dome many years ago when we visited Mitchell Park.
My husband and mother-in-law in the Arid Dome many years ago when we visited Mitchell Park. | Source
Another view inside the Arid Dome
Another view inside the Arid Dome | Source
Inside the Arid Dome
Inside the Arid Dome | Source
Inside the Arid Dome
Inside the Arid Dome | Source

Arid Dome

Different plants are featured inside each Dome. The Arid Dome (as shown in the picture above) is filled with cactus, trees, and plants that exist in desert type regions of the Americas and Africa.

Pathways lead one through this interesting collection of water conserving plants.

The Domes are interconnected through a central passageway.

Tropical Dome

The Tropical Dome is filled to the brim with palm trees, banana plants, orchids, bromeliads, water elements including a waterfall, free-flying birds, and other plant-life that thrives in a more humid environment.

Just as in the Arid Dome, one can meander through this Tropical Dome at one's own pace even sitting on benches and absorbing the atmosphere if desired. Once inside, one can linger as long as one likes (within operating hours, of course!).

Floral Show Dome

The Floral Show Dome is changed out a total of five times during the year and showcases seasonal flowers and things appropriate to the season.

Apparently one of the favorite and returning shows is during the Christmas season when a huge model train display is operational in addition to the other holiday decorations and flowers that one might expect to see.

We were told that in the spring one might expect to see masses of tulips and other bulb plants. Chrysanthemums could be expected to be viewed in the fall.

In addition to typical varieties of plants this seasonally decorated Dome also portrays a specific theme. At times it might feature another country. They spend time and effort to keep it fresh and appealing particularly for returning visitors.

Seasonal Dome decorated for Fall.
Seasonal Dome decorated for Fall. | Source

These domes are truly a thing of beauty. Some brides and grooms have chosen to begun their married lives by having their nuptials performed inside the domes. Special events like that can be arranged if desired.

If you are a person who likes to visit gardens when touring a new area be sure to check out the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you have time visit some of Milwaukee's other parks. I believe you will be duly impressed!

Mitchell Park Fog
Mitchell Park Fog | Source

Future of The Domes

These domes obviously require a lot of upkeep and expense. There was some thought given to possibly tearing them down after these many years of operation. At times they have been temporarily closed for repairs.

Fortunately, they have now been named a "National Treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Personally, I hope that they remain a notable fixture in the Milwaukee Park System so that generations of people can visit them long into the future.

Published on March 22, 2017, see the video below for more information.

Would you like visiting Mitchell Park Domes if you were in Milwaukee?

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Location of "The Domes" in Milwaukee

A
Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
Mitchell Park, Milwaukee, WI, USA

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Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Peggy Woods

    Comments

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      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi alocsin,

        I'm sure that when the Domes were first constructed in Milwaukee, many people probably thought that they were very futuristic in appearance. Mitchell Park is truly worth visiting in a city that spends quite a bit on parks for public use. It must be especially nice for residents in the winter when everything outside is covered with snow and ice! Thanks for your comment and votes.

      • alocsin profile image

        alocsin 

        6 years ago from Orange County, CA

        This looks so futuristic and since cacti are some of my favorite plants, I'm happy that one of them is devoted to arid foliage. Voting this Up and Interesting.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Lisa,

        Glad that I could tell you a bit about the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee and show you these pictures. Thanks for your comment.

      • Rusticliving profile image

        Elizabeth Rayen 

        6 years ago from California

        I love this hub Peggy! I have never heard of the Mitchell Park Domes until now. They are magnificent. I wish they weren't so far away from me. I would love to visit them some day. Thank you for sharing this with us. It's so informative and the pictures and videos are amazing! Kudos! Voted Up!Lisa

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Mike,

        Many parks have wheelchairs available for use for their older or incapacitated visitors. To be sure, why don't you contact the Mitchell Park Domes at 414-257-5611 or email them at http://county.milwaukee.gov/ContactUs01121635.htm

        Hope that you and your mother get to share the experience of visiting there someday soon. Thanks for your inquiry and comment.

      • profile image

        Mike 

        6 years ago

        I was wondering if you can answer this question. Do you have a wheel chairs for older people to use? My mother would like to go but can not walk very long on her legs. My emil address is mikeulmer@att.net

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Billy,

        I can see where the Domes in Milwaukee would be a bit of a reminder of Moody Gardens in Galveston. Obviously they also have their differences. :) Thanks for your comment. Yes...there is much to see in the world!

      • billyaustindillon profile image

        billyaustindillon 

        6 years ago

        These garden domes are awesome - remind me a little of the Moody garden rainforest period in Galveston. So much to see int his world!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello thelyricwriter,

        So glad that I could introduce you to the Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are certainly one of the premier parks in that fair city. Thanks for your comment.

      • thelyricwriter profile image

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        7 years ago from West Virginia

        Hello Peggy! What beautiful pictures you have here. They are such a joy. The domes are breathtaking. Such a great view. It is always good to know something new everyday. I never have heard of them, but I am glad I did. Great article Peggy.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Cheryl J.,

        The Mitchell Perk Garden Domes in Milwaukee are a feast for the eyes all times of the year and in particular when most other things are blanketed by snow and ice...the warm and lush atmospheres inside are especially inviting. Thanks for your comment.

      • profile image

        Cheryl J. 

        7 years ago

        A very interesting and informative hub on Mitchell Park Garden Domes. Great photos and videos. The Domes are really unique and a great system for preservation of the different plant species from around the world. Another great hub.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Tony,

        The Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee are definitely worth a visit if ever in that part of Wisconsin. Milwaukee has many other beautiful parks as well. Thanks for the visit and comment.

      • tonymac04 profile image

        Tony McGregor 

        7 years ago from South Africa

        What an interesting place this must be! Thanks for sharing this unique place - I really enjoyed the visit!

        Love and peace

        Tony

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        7 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello merseyblue,

        Glad that you got to see these Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin even if it was only a virtual visit. After the beautiful conservatory you showcased in your hub, I thought that you might like the look of these. Thanks for the visit and comment and hoping you make it to the U.S. someday for your visit in person.

      • merseyblue profile image

        Linda Forshaw 

        7 years ago from Liverpool, UK

        Another place on my list of must see places when I finally save up the money to do the American road trip I so desperately want to do :) Thanks x

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello starrwriter,

        You must check out the Mitchell Park Domes soon and let me know what you think. Thanks!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi sukhera 143,

        Happy that you liked this hub about the Mitchell Park Garden Domes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thanks for the comment.

      • starrwriter profile image

        starrwriter 

        8 years ago from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

        Wow, it looks like a beautiful place. I can't believe I haven't been there yet.

      • sukhera143 profile image

        sukhera143 

        8 years ago from Home

        Nice hub.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi agusfanani,

        The Domes are great. Let me know what you think when you see them in person. Thanks!

      • agusfanani profile image

        agusfanani 

        8 years ago from Indonesia

        Those domes are great,these are man made ecosystems. I look forward to visiting them, specially the tropical dome.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Ethel,

        And you do the same. Love "traveling" with you in your hubs. Glad you liked this one of the Domes in Milwaukee.

      • ethel smith profile image

        Ethel Smith 

        8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

        You take me to some fascinating places Peggy, well virtually :)

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello nilsarnejohnsen,

        Happy that you found this information about The Domes in Milwaukee interesting. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Hello, hello,

        We no longer live there...in fact...never did in Milwaukee. (My mother and family used to live there.) As a child I grew up in the country-side outside of Milwaukee.....Oconomowoc, to be exact. Then my husband was transferred to central Wisconsin (from Houston) for 4 years. It is in that time-frame that we visited the parks in Milwaukee.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello sukhera143,

        Pleased that you liked this Mitchell Park Dome hub from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thanks for the comment.

      • nilsarnejohnsen profile image

        nilsarnejohnsen 

        8 years ago from Sandnes, Noway

        This was amazing - Me from Norway, have never heard about this before.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        8 years ago from London, UK

        It really looks lovely and you are lucky to live there. Thank you for sharing this with us.

      • sukhera143 profile image

        sukhera143 

        8 years ago from Home

        Good hub.

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Pete,

        You are so funny! Guess that statement about needing domes in parts of the country where it is freezing could apply to a bunch of our country in the winter. Nice to think one can go to a tropical or even desert environment when the outside is blanketed with snow. LOL

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello loveroflife,

        I agree with you...the Milwaukee residents have a great escape in the Domes during the cold winters. Also a great site in the other times of year as we got to see. Thanks!

      • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

        Peggy Woods 

        8 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Mardi,

        Missed seeing that movie. Will have to look for it. Glad you enjoyed this look at the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee.

      • Pete Maida profile image

        Pete Maida 

        8 years ago

        You need domes in that part of the country. It's the only place where it is above freezing.

      • profile image

        loveroflife 

        8 years ago

        Milwaukee should be proud of the Mitchell Park Domes. What a great place to escape, however briefly, from a cold Wisconsin winter.

      • Mardi profile image

        Mardi Winder-Adams 

        8 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

        This hub reminds me of that movie Bio-Dome with Pauly Shore, except these are far more interesting!

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