The Kingwood Capital Campaign

In 1937, Ohio Brass President, Charles Kelley King, commissioned the National Recreation Association for their recommendations on how to utilize his 47-acre estate. Inspired by this report, Mr. King established a Trust Agreement in 1945 to operate a public garden to be called Kingwood Center. Open to the public since 1953, Kingwood Center set forth to provide beautiful gardens and diverse cultural experiences. In the beginning, the income from the trust alone provided for all of Kingwood's activities.

As years went by and Kingwood grew, the trust was faced with additional strain to support all of the expenses. Services our guests had come to expect became a challenge to provide. The recession in 2008 was a pivotal point  where the transition began to intentionally expand and diversify income. A five-dollar per car admission fee, a significant increase in memberships, and the arrival of wedding or private event rentals all provided financial support. Currently, the admission fee is $5 a person and free for children ages 12 and under. 

However, the addition of an admission fee imparted a greater obligation to offer value to each guest's experience. It was time to lay out a plan to develop and diversify earned income, add value, sustain excellence, and attract support. In late 2014, a master planning process was initiated that would lead to a strategic vision and plans for both interpretation and facilities. 

The strategic vision urged a three-pronged effort for financial support through the trust, earned income, and fundraising. The interpretive plan looks to the precedent set forth in Mr. King's estate as a model of how to preserve the garden's ambiance, even during expansion. The facility plan features a unique and improved new way to experience Kingwood - a visitor center. 

The Garden Gateway Visitor Center

The new facility will dramatically improve Kingwood Center Gardens' ability to expand capacity and service to the public, furthering the vision of Mr. King as written in the guidelines of the his trust. The visitor experience will be significantly enhanced through intentional interactions, expanded programs, and educational encounters.  Based on expert analyses from botanical garden specialists assisting with master planning, one of Kingwood's greatest weaknesses from a visitor perspective is the arrival experience. Other than a small shed positioned at the entrance to the parking area, central access to the gardens or a point at which to efficiently and effectively orient the visitor does not exist. 

The new Garden Gateway Visitor Center

with Auto Garden parking area will provide:

  • An accessible, welcoming location for visitors and members serving as an experiential gateway to the Gardens

  • Unique new or updated garden areas

  • Ticket purchasing point and membership sales opportunity

  • Space for orientation, information, interpretation

  • An exhibit gallery highlighting the business and historical legacy of Mr. King; other exhibits will focus on regional history featuring businesses, entrepreneurs, and notable figures

  • Alternative indoor experiences during inclement weather

  • Garden Gateway Cafe with indoor and outdoor seating

  • Gift shop and greenhouse store to generate retail sales

  • Multi-purpose Kingwood Ballroom with break-out rooms

  • Staff offices; conference rooms

  • Responsible 21st century stewardship principles to manage storm water are featured in the auto garden and terraces

Additional Project Information


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