Gardens Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Open seven days a week, year round, except July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Day.
Oct. thru May $13 Adults | $12 Student/Senior/Military | $7.50 Children 4-12 (included entrance to Butterfly Magic)
June thru Aug. $9 Adults | $8 Student/Senior/Military | $5 Children 4-12
Children 3 and under and Members are always free!*
*Admission to the Gardens during our newest exhibit, Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks:
[September 11, 2015 to January, 3 2016]
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
$18/adults, $9/children, $5/adult members, $2.50/child members
|The property purchased by Rutger Porter in 1929 included a small adobe house built sometime before 1925. The original grounds consisted of the property west of the spineless prickly pear hedge (on the west side of the current Barrio Garden), across the street to the other side of Alvernon (where there are currently a number of homes). At that time, Alvernon was a dirt, two-lane, country road. The property continued north to the current location of the Fry’s shopping center.||
View looking north, 1930s.
The house on Maple Boulevard (now Alvernon Way) after a downpour. Early 1930s.
|The property consisted of a three-room house that resembled a charming summer cottage, a barn made of tin, and a nearby well. The surrounding area was creosote flats desert, and neighbors were distant. The intersection of Grant Road and Maple Boulevard (now called Alvernon Way) was definitely out in the country.|
Previous living room, early 1960s. Now Porter Hall
|Beginning in 1932, sections were added to the three-room house using adobe blocks set in mortar. Construction of three bedrooms and a porch was completed in 1934. A large open space between the new and old building caused a bit of inconvenience for the family, particularly during inclement weather, so the area was enclosed and became a living room with a separate sun porch facing to the south. The floors were brick, cement and oak hardwood. Structural timbers (most obviously seen today in Porter Hall) were from an old Broadway subway.|
Bedroom, early 1960s. Now the office of the Executive Director.
|In the 1930s, the ground water situation was less critical than it is today. The Porters installed a metal cattle tank in 1938. Thirty-five feet in diameter, it was set on a concrete base, and it was one of the town’s first private swimming pools. Every fall the pool was drained and used to irrigate the grounds surrounding the house, as well as the growing fields across the street. One wall of the cattle tank remains today and is part of a grassy “amphitheatre” just east of the reception garden.||
Cleaning out the “swimming pool” 1940s. (l – r) Bernice, Grace, Sophia
South sunporch, early 1960s. Now southern end of Porter Hall.
|As ground water began to recede, the original well pumping depth was lowered to 165 feet. This gave a strong, steady flow of water less mineralized than that from other sources. Eventually the receding ground table made it necessary to shut off the private well and connect to the City’s water system. The well and its equipment were enclosed in what became storage space behind the east wall of the south porch.|
|The house and garden continued to evolve. A reflecting pool was installed in what is now the front Porter patio (outside the current Gift Shop). It was edged with native flagstone and stocked with fish and aquatic plants including hyacinths, lotus, grasses, and white pond lilies. The roots of a large eucalyptus tree eventually caused the sides of the pool to collapse and in 1971, it was replaced by a brick patio and fountain—still in evidence today.||
View from northwest of the reflecting pool, early 1960s
Now bricked-in Porter Patio