SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Grayhouse: 1907

The Grayhouse: 1907

Detroit circa 1907. "Horticultural Building, Belle Isle Park." Check out their latest Vine. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!


My mom told me stories of trips to Belle Isle on the streetcar when she was a young child. Here she is in 1936 at 17 years old in front of the greenhouse.

Grayhouse Kodachrome: 1956

Interior of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan, April 1956. Scanned Kodachrome slide.

Belle Isle Scripps Conservatory, April 1956

View full size.

More Kodachrome slides of the interior and exterior that were taken in 1955-56 can be found here.

Fond memories

Of occasional visits here with my mother in the '50s. For all the exotic plants, bright colors & winter warmth, I most remember the humidity. Now that Belle Isle is a state park, maybe the Conservatory will be returned to its former glory.

Now belongs to the State

With the current bankruptcy procedings of the City of Detroit going on, the State of Michigan has acquired ownership of the entire island including all upon it. Hopefully this bids for better times, as it has fallen upon hardship in recent years.

Belle Isle Beauty

Info from the Belle Isle Conservancy website:

"The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory was opened in 1904 and was designed by Albert Kahn, modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The Conservatory is divided into 5 distinct sections: The Palm House, Tropical House, Showroom, Cactus House and the Fernery. Mrs. Anna Scripps Whitcomb bequeathed her 600-plant orchid collection to the City of Detroit and the Conservatory. In 1955 the Conservatory was dedicated to her."

My family, beginning with my grandparents, visited Belle Isle at least twice yearly for nine decades. It's great to see the historical photos displayed here at Shorpy. I keep hoping to find family in one of these oldies.


OK Shorpy colorists, you're on.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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