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Learn About the First Greenhouses in New Communiversity Class

Visit local historical greenhouses while learning about their unique history in a new Communiversity course taught by local author and antiques appraiser Frank Farmer Loomis.

Date: 1/22/2018 12:00:00 AM
By: Cassie Lipp

UC ingot  
Krohn Conservatory view of plants and glass ceiling

Today, greenhouses allow even those in colder climates to have fresh produce year-round, and provide us with some of the most beautiful botanical gardens to stroll through. During Victorian times, greenhouses were almost de rigueur for Gilded Age mansions. Yet, their origins go further back in history. Louis XIV created the King’s Kitchen Garden in Versailles, and George Washington built a greenhouse at Mount Vernon so he could serve his guests pineapple.

Explore the history and the technological wonder of greenhouses in the new Communiversity course The First Greenhouses: From Europe to America. The session includes a personal tour of Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park and a visit to a local Victorian home with a greenhouse that is still in use. The course meets at UC’s Victory Parkway Campus on Feb. 25 starting at 1 p.m. The course fee is $59 and includes your admission to Krohn.

The First Greenhouses: From Europe to America is taught by Frank Farmer Loomis, author of  Is It Antique Yet?, Secrets to Affordable Antiques, and Antiques 101. Loomis was an antiques columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer from 1987 to 1995, a columnist for Cincinnati Magazine from 1993 to 1995, and a syndicated columnist for Cox Newspapers as well as Art & Antiques Magazine. Nationally, he was an appraiser for “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS from 1997-1998 and hosted, wrote and co-produced the PBS series “Is It Antique Yet?” (1986-1991). You can listen to him every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WMKV-89.3 FM.

“Most of us have romantic perspectives about greenhouses. We envision King Louis at Versailles raising oranges at his orangerie, the French word for what would revolutionize modern life,” Loomis said. “But there is much more to their story.”

Loomis said that after the Industrial Revolution, machinery could manufacture bigger glass pieces than could be done by hand. This began the golden era of greenhouses that were technological marvels, offering myriad possibilities besides oranges. Such marvels include The Crystal Palace in London's Hyde Park, a huge glass exposition hall that played host to the first World's Fair.

Also dating back from that era is Findlay Market. While constructed later, the glass terminals of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport provide another local example of greenhouses.

While The First Greenhouses: From Europe to America is a new course, this isn’t Loomis’ first time teaching for Communiversity. This year marks his 37th year of being an instructor.  “I have learned to so much from my students. Cincinnati never ceases to inspire me,” Lommis said.

Communiversity offers fun and innovative continuing education courses to enrich the lives of those around Cincinnati and beyond. With locations both on UC Victory Parkway Campus and around Cincinnati, Communiversity makes it easy for working professionals, retirees and other lifelong learners to develop new skills and hobbies.

To register for this or any other Communiversity class, visit our website or call (513) 556-6932 and press 2.