In 1873 the city of Saint Paul acquired 300 acres of land around Lake Como for use as a public park. Saint Paul’s experiment with a municipal menagerie began in 1897 when the city fenced pasture in the park to hold a gift of three deer. Como’s Art Deco zoological building was designed in 1936 by Charles Bassford as part of the Works Progress Administration. The Zoo’s other WPA structures include the Bear Grotto, Monkey Island and the barn. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory opened in 1915 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.