The Horticultural Palace is one of the most attractive structures on the Centenary grounds. It is so peculiar in appearance and so different from the usual order of buildings in this country that it deserves special attention and admiration.
The style is Moorish, and the character of Moorish architecture of the twelfth century, one of the finest examples of which is to be found in the remains of the Alhambra Palace in Spain. The characteristics of this architecture are light, fanciful and flowery. Bright colours and strong contrasts are allowed. The result was the construction of a building that resembles a palace of oriental romance, attractive and graceful.
This pavilion is at the beginning of Fountain Avenue, on the north side of the Lansdowne Valley and north-east of the Fine Arts Palace. It is built of iron, brick and glass. It is vaulted in the basement floors and is substantial and fireproof. It is 383 feet long, 193 feet wide and 72 feet high to the top of the lantern, covering 1.05 acres.
The east and west entrances are approached by flights of marble steps rising from the terraces and leading to an open kiosk 20 feet in diameter. The basements are occupied by kitchens, shops, heating installations, etc. The interior of the conservatory is adorned with fountains and plant display areas. On the sides of this flat, Moorish arcades of white, black and red bricks support a gallery 5 feet wide.
This arcade is a highly visible ornament from the interior and attracts universal attention. The upper part of the veranda is decorated with blue and gold, bright and showy. Four chandeliers in the Moorish style of elaborate construction are to illuminate the interior; they consist of 60 lights, and there are side lights in the room. Outside the space, in the building devoted to the main conservatory, are the forcing houses for the propagation of young plants; these are four in number, each 100x30 feet, and covered with iron and glass roofs. Vestibules or entrances separate these forcings; they are used for office purposes, as are the vestibules to the east and west, which run the length of the building.
Above the bays, external galleries 10 feet wide and 100 feet long connect to the large promenade formed by the roofs of the ground floor rooms.
Staircases at the corners of the building lead to the exterior as well as to the interior gallery. Connected to the Horticultural Pavilion are 35 acres of land, which extend westward along the Belmont Road to the Catholic Fountain, and which are gay with flowers from all parts of the world.
This building stands on Lansdowne Terrace, near the Schuylkill River, and affords a fine view in all directions.
It was built at the expense of the City of Philadelphia and presented to the Centennial Commission as part of the exhibition.
It will remain permanently as an ornament to the park and for future use.
The architect was H. J. Schwarzmann; builder, John Rice.
©Centennial portfolio: a souvenir of the international exhibition at Philadelphia - 1876