Gossamer House

Off hand I can’t remember using the word gossamer in describing a building but it certainly fits the Seymour conservatory in Tacoma’s treasured Wright Park. The structure was a gift to the City from Mayor William Wolcott Seymour in 1908 and its butterfly wing lightness is unmatched by any other city landmark. There is a buzz right now around the plans for its restoration and the ideas about how it might be expanded without extracting a cost in green space from the park. A skilled preservation architect has been working on the plans and one of the exciting opportunities is to restore the missing Corinthian order facades that originally graced the entries to the botanical structure. The first two photographs show them in their classical formality, like Greek temples holding down a wire frame dirigible. By 1940 the sculpted wooden features were gone and something of the elegance and politeness of the greenhouse was lost. That theatrical moment when you stepped through the city and into the garden went away but it may come again.

This seems to go with that…

“I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know

But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door”
― J.R.R. Tolkien


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