Historic Oklahoma City conservatory set to reopen at Will Rogers Gardens

Known for housing rare cactuses and other exotic plants, the Ed Lycan Conservatory closed for reconstruction in 2011. It is ready to open Nov. 20 at Will Rogers Gardens in Oklahoma City.
by Robert Medley Modified: November 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: November 18, 2013

The Ed Lycan Conservatory, full of rare cactuses in desert landscape displays, fell into disrepair and was closed at Will Rogers Gardens two years ago.

The conservatory was falling apart in 2011, said Tony Furrh, 67, of Oklahoma City.

Furrh, a member of the Central Oklahoma Cacti and Succulent Society, and others volunteered their expertise helping city workers set up the desert display with cactuses the public will be able to see grow year round when it reopens Wednesday.

Furrh said there are rose rocks from the former conservatory. He remembers the jungle rooms and the cactus rooms in the old conservatory, and he said the exhibits will be better than before.

The ribbon-cutting for the reconstructed landmark conservatory is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will reopen to visitors then.

The old greenhouse was not safe for people to walk inside two years ago. It was rusting away, Furrh said.

The two year wait will be worth it, Furrh said.

“We're trying to make it better than before,” Furrh said.

There will be about 100 plants moved in right away.

In 1936, the conservatory opened on NW 36 just east of Portland Avenue at what was known as Northwest Park, said Jennifer McClintock, Oklahoma City Parks spokeswoman. And since that time, it has been at what is now called the Will Rogers Gardens.

As part of a 2007 general obligation bond issue approved by city voters, about $2 million of improvement has been completed to the conservatory project, McClintock said.

by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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