Do you ever wonder what new and exciting things exist in your own neighborhood without allowing yourself the time to explore? I sure do! The Sunnyside Conservatory is just that kind of an awe inspiring place for me and on a recent Sunday morning, I took the time to make my well overdue visit. Built in San Francisco in 1898 on the (then) private estate of William Augustus Merralls, the Sunnyside Conservatory was to be a personal garden refuge and sanctuary. Although it was eventually purchased by the city and gained landmark status, it had become very worn and neglected over it's 100+ years.
When I first moved into the neighborhood, 14 years ago, I would often take a stroll through the over grown, trash laden park and marvel at the huge palm grove smack dab in the middle of Monterey Boulevard. Cars racing by, coming off of the freeway, seemed to hardly notice this mysterious and magical place that always piqued my interest. It struck me as sad that something so special had become so neglected.
Many years later, one day as I was walking up the boulevard, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the huge old palms which had been growing in the middle of the structure, had been removed! The windows, which had mostly suffered damage, decay and vandalism over the years had been completely dismantled! The dirt in the garden had been tilled, plants uprooted, weeds pulled, ivy tamed and it was obvious that the Sunnyside Conservatory was finally getting the attention it needed. Someone had broken ground and a new "face" would be up in no time! Hooray!
So, back to my Sunday morning field trip...
A long overdue adventure (in my own neighborhood) made me realize what a little love, caring and preservation can do. After a 10 year plan, community organization and fundraising to the tune of 4.2 million dollars, something with so much potential, and a desperate need for a little nurturing, has now blossomed into a whole new chapter of its life. How lucky I am to be able to share in all its glory and even though the remodel has been finished for a little over two years now, I was finally able to appreciate all of the hard work and efforts.
If you have a free minute. the next time you race off or on to the 280 Freeway, pull over, park and just stop in for a quick respite in this little slice of paradise
I can't wait to go back! Or find the next old SF gem awaiting discovery in my neck of the woods.
What have you explored lately?