This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
All hitherto erected structures, however great and noble some of them are, fall far short of answering this end, and I cannot but recommend, now that we do possess a building like the Crystal Palace, which in its dimensions is the best adapted for such a purpose of anything that has been hitherto attempted, that it should be so appropriated - and especially as its peculiar site between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens is the best spot that could have been selected; connecting as it does those two great promenades - it appears exactly calculated to concentrate beneath its roof the pleasures of both.
A building like this, if properly laid out, will open a wide field of intellectual and healthful enjoyment; it will likewise, I hope, stimulate the wealthy in large manufacturing towns to a similar adoption of what may now be raised so cheaply; and when judiciously furnished with vegetation, ornamented with sculpture and fountains, and illustrated with the beautiful works of nature, how pure, elevating, and beneficial would its studies and exercises be. At present England furnishes no such place of public resort, for although Kew has a splendid Palm-house, where daily are congregated a great number of individuals, yet its warm and humid atmosphere is only calculated to so that the pleasures found in it would he of a character which all who visit could share; here would he supplied the climate of Southern Italy .where multitudes might ride, walk, or recline amidst groves of fragrant trees, and here they might leisurely examine the works of nature and art, regard less of the biting east winds or the drifting snow.
Here vegetation in much of its beauty might be studied with unusual advantages, and the singular properties examined of those great filterers of Nature, which during the night season, when the bulk of animal life are in a quiescent state, inhale the oxygen of the air, whilst in the day, when the mass of animal existence have started into activity, they drink in the carbonic supply, given out by man and animals, which goes to form their solid substance, at the same time pouring forth streams of oxygen, which, mingling with the surrounding atmosphere, gives vigor to man's body and cheerfulness to his spirits.
In this Winter Park and Garden, the trees and plants might be so arranged as to give great diversity of views and picturesque effect. Spaces might be set apart for equestrian exercise, and for carriage drives; but the main body of the building should be arranged with the view of giving great extent and variety for those who promenade on foot. Fountains, statuary, and every description of park and garden ornament, would greatly heighten the effect and beauty of the scene.
Beautiful creeping plants might be planted against the columns, and trailed along the girders, so as to give shade in summer, while the effect they would produce by festooning in every diversity of form over the building, would give the whole a must enchanting and gorgeous finish. Besides these, there might be introduced a collection of living birds from all temperate climates, and the science of Geology, so closely connected with the study plants, might be illustrated on a large and natural scale, thus making practical botany, ornithology, and geology, familiar to every visitor.
The alterations necessary to the building itself, to produce the effects I have suggested, would not be many or cost much money. Shortly will be published by me a view showing how the whole may be finished so as to do away with all idea of smoke, chimneys, or other kind of nuisance. The details of the alterations necessary I do not propose to treat of now; but I may mention, for the information of those who live opposite the Crystal Palace, that I should recommend the wood boarding round the bottom tier of the building to be removed and replaced with glass; the present appearance of it is heavy, and gives anything but the idea indicated by its name; when glass is substituted for wood, the appearance will be marvellously changed; those who drive and ride in the park will even in winter see the objects within as they pass by, and the whole will have a light aerial appearance totally unlike what it has at present. In summer I should recommend the whole lower glass tier to be entirely removed, so as to give, from the park and the houses opposite the Palace, an appearance of continuous park and garden.
Here I must state what I believe will be the position of those who live opposite the Crystal Palace. I fully admit they have just cause of complaint by having all the turmoil of so vast an undertaking as the great exhibition developed under their eyes and ears, with all its attendant inconveniences; but if the building is allowed to stand, and be adapted as I propose, the advantages derivable to them will fully compensate for all the evil they may have sustained in that respect. The boarding being all removed and glass substituted, they will have, within a few minutes' walk, a beautiful park, decorated with the beauties of nature and art-, under a sky-roof, having a climate, warmed and ventilated for the purpose of health alone, furnishing, close to their own firesides, a promenade unequalled in the world, and, for the six winter months, a temperature analogous to that of Southern Italy; and I have no doubt the property in that immediate neighborhood would, from such an arrangement, considerably advance in value, because of the recreation and exercise afforded to the inhabitants and their families.
The advantages derivable from such an appropriation of the Crystal Palace would be many, and may be thus summed up. In a sanitary point of view its benefits would be incalculable. By its various objects it would produce a new and soothing pleasure to the mind. The great truths of Nature and Art would be constantly exemplified. Peculiar facilities would especially be given for the development on a large scale of the sciences of Botany, Geology and Ornithology. A temperate climate would be supplied at all seasons. Taste would be improved by individuals becoming familiar with objects of the highest order of Art, and by viewing the more beautiful parts of Nature without its deformities. Pleasant exercise could be taken at all times, and in every variety of weather. It would serve as a drive, for equestrian exercise, for a promenade, or lounge, and as a place which could at all seasons, be resorted to with advantage by the most delicate.
Although the Crystal Palace at present, with its magnificent display of useful and ornamental articles, is truly wonderful, yet if the building be converted into a Winter Park and Garden, and arranged as I propose, I feel confident it would become a still more extraordinary and beautiful object. These things all considered, I cannot help expressing an earnest hope that the building will be allowed to stand, and be converted to so laudable a use. The cost of forming it in the first instance, must entirely depend upon the extent to which my proposition is carried out. Should it be decided for the building to stand, and be so appropriated, a calculation of the cost could readily be given.
I have, however, thought it right to state what I believe would be the annual outlay, if the whole were kept in first rate condition and constant repair; of course, a less sum would be required if a high standard was not aimed at; and this yearly sum might be obtained either by a national grant, or by making the building itself self-supporting.
Labar, fuel, water, implements, gruvel for walks, feeding and attendance, to birds, and general superintendence,.........................
Besides the above, constant painting and renewal would be required; for this a reserve fund should be provided, and by which the building might be renewed forever,.....................
Making a total of ....................