The Bush House Conservatory…!!

The Bush House conservatory was built in 1882…the oldest in the Pacific Northwest.  It was built by Mr. Bush for his daughters Sally and Eugenia and was built of brick with a concrete veneer.  There was no foundation for the original building and it was first heated with a wood stove. In the 1930’s a Moniger Iron Frame was installed and the wood stove replaced with a sawdust or oil boiler to circulate hot water.  In the 1950’s when the house passed to City of Salem ownership from the Bush family, a cold frame was added and the greenhouse was used for annuals to be planted in the park.  In 1977-78 then SAA director Nancy Lindburg and head gardener Nobel Bashor saved the greenhouse from destruction, and did repair work and added a new boiler with grant and private donation funding.  A call then went out to volunteer gardeners and the Bush Conservatory Gardeners group, predecessor to the current FOBG (Friends of Bush Garden), was formed.  In cooperation with the City of Salem gardeners, FOBG maintains the gardens today and raises money for work in the garden with their annual plant sales in April and July.  Here’s a shot from last year when the conservatory had to be closed because the ceiling began to fall in…

FOBG began raising funds for this current restoration project and with the help of public and private donors was able to raise the $222,000 needed to restore this historic structure.  Here’s the conservatory during the restoration  process

and here just after the tent and fence came down

Today was the “grand opening” reception for donors and friends, hosted by FOBG…and here’s the conservatory as it looks now with plants all happily moved in:

All the glass has been splattered with white wash…an old technique to keep the greenhouse from getting too hot…then during the course of the season the white wash washes off, and is renewed next spring:

…but come on in…

It seemed positively celestial in there today…

…but it might have been Delana’s harp music…

Here are FOBG gardener and driver of the project Gretchen Carnaby on the left, with former SAA director Nancy Lindburg on the right…

Better get to the park and see this treasure that so many people worked to save for us…it’s a beauty!


  1. Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos of the conservatory. I volunteer next door at Deepwood and plan to go look at the conservatory this week.

  2. Oh good…it really is pretty wonderful all by itself, but sitting there glowing and showing what a determined community can do makes it even more beautiful…

  3. The whitewashing is such a clever solution! I had not heard of that before. What a pretty space 🙂

  4. This is one of my favorite places and a regular meeting place when I was a teen “hanging out” at the park. I visited the park with family several weeks ago and would have loved to explore…. but it was locked up tight. I’m very grateful for all the time, effort and $$ that has been invested in this gorgeous treasure.

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