The public has just over two months to say goodbye to the Assiniboine Park Conservatory.
The conservatory, which park officials say is the first memory many people have of Assiniboine Park, will shut down for good after Easter Monday, Apr. 2.
It first opened in 1914 when many North American cities were constructing indoor tropical gardens, and was rebuilt in 1968. It will make way for the Canada's Diversity Gardens, a horticulture display several times its size and bigger in scope with its theme of cultural and plant diversity.
However, the $75 million diversity gardens is at least two years away from completion.
The diversity gardens will be next door to the conservatory site. The space under the conservatory will be used for greenhouses to support the new diversity gardens and other park biota.
The high humidity of the tropical house has also taken its toll on the conservatory building, said Archie Pronger, head of facilities.
As if on cue, the floor made a loud crack and tiles lifted in the events office while Pronger made his comments at the Friday press conference. Pronger said the cracking was likely from frost in the ground acting to compress the foundation.
Feasibility studies have concluded the building has outlived its lifespan, said Bruce Keats, the park's chief operations officer. "It is simply not practical to maintain the building."
Gerald Dieleman, diversity gardens project director, invited the public to celebrate the conservatory's century-long life, not mourn its passing.
The conservatory gets from 100,000 to 125,000 visits per year, although those figures include staff and volunteers.
Many people have been married at the conservatory, or had photos taken, or just have a significant memory of it.
"We recognize its a touchstone for a lot of people," Dieleman said. "It's sad to see it go, but we're building a bigger future."
Talk of the conservatory's demolition began in 2014, he said. "We were never going to have two horticultural facilities."
The park will welcome written or photographic memories of the conservatory up until March 2 to be part of a commemorative exhibit and slideshow. It will be on display at an open-house style, week-long celebration at the conservatory from Mar. 27 to Apr. 2. More details are to follow and will be posted at www.assiniboinepark.ca.
The cost of demolition will not be known until the work is tendered. The demolition will hopefully be completed by late spring. Park officials hope to recycle 80 per cent of the materials.
The demolition will allow the horticultural staff to direct their energies to the new facility, Pronger said.
The smaller plants will be moved to the tropical gardens in the Assiniboine Park Zoo but the palm trees with their root systems cannot be replanted, said Dieleman.
The wood will be made available to anyone interested.
Bill Redekop has been covering rural issues for going on two decades.
Updated on Friday, January 12, 2018 at 2:46 PM CST: Adds more information, images.