Saturday, February 5, 2011

Belle Isle, Shiver on the River

Belle Isle Aquarium & Conservatory

Today, while Scott played in a Malifaux tournament, I braved the snowfall and went to Belle Isle for the annual Shiver on the River event. They had the aquarium open for the event, which was special because it has been closed since 2005.

Belle Isle Aquarium

Designed by Albert Kahn, built in 1904.

Belle Isle Aquarium

Most of the tanks are empty, though the Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium are trying to change that and raise money to get it reopened. It was the first public aquarium in the US, and there is currently no aquarium at all in the area.

Belle Isle Aquarium

For now, the only full tank is being used to house the outdoor fountain's koi for the winter.

Belle Isle Conservatory

Attached to the aquarium, but separate, is the conservatory, also designed by Albert Kahn. The conservatory is free and normally open from Wednesday-Sunday every week.

Belle Isle Conservatory

The main dome is a palm room, with wings to three sides.

Belle Isle Conservatory

Here is the fern room, which is attached to the desert area in the north wing.

Belle Isle Conservatory

In the south wing, orange trees were bearing fruit.

Belle Isle

Stables across the road are currently used as maintenance facilities.

Belle Isle Bell Tower

The carrilon tower tolled the hour as I left the conservatory.

Belle Isle Athletics Shelter

I got a bit confused by the one-way streets, and took the long way around by the 1898 athletic field house. There is apparently a restaurant there, which must be open in the summer months.

Belle Isle Casino, 1907

I went around to the casino (which is not actually a place to gamble -- at the time it was built, casino just meant a place to gather), where they were having a little carnival. Unfortunately, I was a bit late, so I missed most of it.

skylight inside Belle Isle Casino

I did get to see some of the lovely 1907 period details designed by Van Leyen & Schilling, like the mosaic floor, and this stained glass skylight.

6 day old kids

There were, however, some six day old kids there, which I got to pet and snuggle, and I carried one out to the lady's car for her.

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