The Botanical Building in San Diego’s Balboa Park was the largest wood lath structure in the world when it was built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition.
I find the 250 foot long by 75 foot wide and 60 foot tall structure is somewhat reminiscent of the (glass) Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, although it would have been the long steel and glass greenhouse projecting north from the back of the central portion of the building for many years that would have contained the type of tropical plants found in the Conservatory.
A 193 by 43 foot reflecting pond and smaller companion pool in front of the Botanical Building were originally referred to as Las Lagunas de las Flores (The Lakes of the Flowers). The pools — which contain exotic water lilies and lotus, goldfish and Japanese koi — were designed as aquatic gardens.
During World War II the reflecting pool was used as a swimming pool so sailors at a Naval Training Station — in Balboa Park at that time — could learn to swim. The pool also saw controversial use as a pond for bait and fly casting which was discontinued in 1949 when a fly casting pool was opened in Morley Field.
When the Botanical Building opened to the public in 1915 bird cages holding Linnets, thrushes and canaries had been placed among the palms, bamboos, banana trees, Aralia elegantissima and Aralia chabrierii. Some plants grew too tall, right through the laths and beginning in 1917 were removed or cut down.
The main floral display emphasis was on Orchids one day when I visited San Diego’s Balboa Park Botanical Building.
Orchids in the Botanical Building