William Augustus Merralls, a British engineer and inventor, built this quirky Victorian oasis next to his home on an old dairy farm, in the new Sunnyside District in 1898. A serial entrepreneur, Merralls made his money in the invention and sale of power mining equipment; he also had shipping interests, worked on the cooling systems of subway cars, and shopped proposals for flying engines. If he was around today, he’d probably be into cloud computing, high speed rail, and alternative energy.
The octagonal Conservatory building originally had two wings, featured several Architectural Gems including multiple skylights, bentwood trusses, and was set within a carriage turn around. Merralls not only wanted to gather up rare earthly plant specimens for his private delight; he also wanted bring celestial wonders closer to home in his companion Observatory.