By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
On June 29, 1988, the Douglas Research Conservatory was dedicated. It was a state-of-the-art facility for plant propagation, research, and horticultural education. The facility was made possible through a one million dollar donation from the estate of the late Neva Douglas, daughter of the University’s Metropolitan Tract developer, John Francis Douglas. The gift was given in memory of Douglas and his wife, Neva Bostwick Douglas. The facility featured 5000 square feet of glass-house space and 8000 square feet for support facilities. It included a laboratory, classroom, growth chambers, storage, experimental construction spaces, and offices.
The Douglas’ son, James B. Douglas, was the developer of Northgate and many other shopping malls. He was instrumental in directing the gift, along with his son, James C. Douglas of San Diego, CA. It also show-cased innovative computer technology, which monitored and controlled vents, fans, temperatures, and other events throughout the glass houses.
The Metropolitan Tract was given to the University of Washington in 1861 and was its original site until 1895. The Tract has long been the financial heart of downtown Seattle. The Tract’s business success began in 1907. In the ensuing 20 years, the Douglas Metropolitan Building Company constructed 13 major buildings, including the White Building (1909) and the Skinner Building (1927).
The Douglas Research Conservatory was the last major building built and dedicated at the Union Bay site at the Center for Urban Horticulture.