The Conservatory Then and Never Again
On the back of my sleeve I have a fading memory of a five or six floor hedge maze on Nicollet Mall. I’ve pre-spotted and rubbed a little vinegar and lemon juice into the fabric, but the stain just won’t come out. Seems like I got lost for hours in there and never bought anything. The Conservatory had miles of marble floors, live plants, a huge wall of water and the finest selection of quietly expensive retail outlets and restaurants you’ve never heard of west of the Mississippi River. It opened to great fanfare and swallowed a small crowd of women from Edina that were never heard from again. Cell phones were still a few years off and the Conservatory’s labyrinth lay-out made it made almost impossible to find where anything was, including the teen-age daughter you walked in with. By the time you figured out that the up escalators were on opposite end of the building from the down escalators on every floor, she was already a couple blocks away smoking cigarettes with a street musician on Hennepin Avenue. I don’t know how long the Conservatory was open, but it was a pretty lonely place before they finally tore it down in 1998. A eulogy was never said for the strange little mall. Some folks even rejoiced when it was demolished. It’s too bad we had to loose the old facades that were preserved as part of the project, but these things happen. Nobody really misses an old building or two, especially in Minneapolis.