A Division of the Missouri Botanical Garden
The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden, officially opened to the public September 18, 1998. Located in St. Louis County’s Faust Park, the central feature of the attraction is an 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory where visitors mingle with more than 60 species of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in free flight. The Butterfly House was the first facility dedicated entirely to invertebrates in the country to be granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The Conservatory is lushly planted with nearly 100 species of exotic flowering tropical plants. Visitors see enormous species diversity including huge iridescent blue Morphos from Costa Rica, the Ruby Lacewing from Malaysia and the Golden Birdwing from the Philippines. The Miracle of Metamorphosis display exhibits chrysalides with butterflies emerging as visitors watch.
A visit to the Butterfly House is not only exciting and educational, but promotes environmental stewardship through example. An additional 8,000 square feet of interior space is devoted to living exhibits, classrooms and visitor amenities.
The Emerson Theater provides an inspiring orientation of the life cycle of butterflies and a preview of the wonder to come. The Lopata Learning Lab is the focus of formal and informal classes and demonstrations for all ages. No visit is complete without a stop in the upscale Butterfly House Gift Shop, brimming with butterfly-inspired merchandise.
More exhibits and environments for exploration are located just outside the building. The Entry Plaza is paved with “messages” from St. Louis families. The two Sculpture Gardens that flank the entry plaza are inhabited with playful creatures by St. Louis artist Robert Cassilly. The creatures include a 30-foot-long “Lopatapillar” caterpillar designed for youthful investigation and an enormous mysterious Monarch butterfly with faceted eyes. The sculpture is surrounded by plants that provide nectar and shelter to native species of butterflies.
Stepping outside offers a several native butterfly gardens and plantings where visitors learn how to attract butterflies to their own homes and neighborhoods. In 2015, the Butterfly House opened, "Nature Trek," an interactive nature trail for families.
Ground was broken in June of 1997, and construction began on the Butterfly House. The 8,000-square-foot Conservatory is sheathed in 646 pieces of glass, each measuring four-by-six-foot and weighing approximately 200 pounds. The center vault, soaring to 36-foot high at its apex, is one of five vaults designed to minimize visual (and flight) obstruction.
Great care was taken in the design and engineering of the building to assure a natural and safe habitat for butterflies. An additional 8,000 square feet adjacent to the Conservatory houses classrooms, a theater, visitor amenities and a gift shop.
The Christner Partnership, Bannes Consulting and BSI Construction executed design, product management and construction.
In June 2000, the Butterfly House opened the Butterfly Garden, featuring nectar sources and host plants to attract both native and migratory butterflies. The Butterfly Garden has earned certification as a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Teaching Habitat. Landscape architect Matt Moynihan designed the Butterfly Garden under the direction of Butterfly House staff horticulturalists.
Sophia M. Sachs
The Butterfly House is named in honor and memory of Sophia M. Sachs, wife of the late Sam Sachs, who founded Sachs Electric Company and played a key role in the early development of Chesterfield, Mo.
The first butterfly house opened in 1976 on an island in the English Channel. The first butterfly house appeared in the United States in 1988. When the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House opened its doors in September 1998, it became the ninth such facility in the United States, and the only butterfly house in the Midwest at that time.
Faust Park Facts
Rich in History
What is now a 200-acre public park in St. Louis County was originally Thornhill Farm, owned by Missouri’s second governor, Frederick Bates. At the turn of the 19th century, the estate was purchased by the Faust family, prominent in St. Louis history.
For many years, it was home to Leicester Busch Faust, grandson of Adolphus Busch and Tony Faust, and his wife Mary (née Plant), descended from Pierre Laclede, the founder of St. Louis. In 1968, the Fausts donated 98 acres of their farm, including the original Bates house, to St. Louis County. The house was restored and the land used to create Faust Park.
Rich in Architecture
In 1997, the remainder of the family estate (approximately 100 acres), which had remained a private enclave for more than a century, was also donated to the County. The estate’s Manor House and outbuildings were designed by Tom P. Barnett, one of the most skilled architects to work in St. Louis. Barnett, Haynes, and Barnett designed many prominent structures in St. Louis including the new St. Louis Cathedral and #1 Portland Place. The Manor House is a unique example of Pueblo Revival styles. A freestanding conservatory, the Victorian Greenhouse (now restored for use by the Butterfly House), is a romantic focal point for the estate. Even the dairy barn is distinguished by its “Lamella” roof, a complex wooden structure that spans the entire 100-by-50-feet without intervening support.
A Family Recreation Area
Today’s visitors to Faust Park find a beautifully maintained park with picnic and play area, and several family attractions. The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House is filled with excitement and surprise. The park is also home to the fully restored St. Louis Carousel, where visitors can ride one of the more than 60 hand-carved animals in indoor comfort. Families enjoy a look back in time by touring the Historic Village, re-created with structures from 19th century St. Louis. Faust Park is often the site of concerts and special events.
Faust Park is easily accessible from the major highways in the area.
From the intersection of I-64/40 and I-270: Take I-64/40 west to the Clarkson/Olive exit (19-B). Turn right on Olive; Faust Park is about two miles down the road on the left.
From the intersection of I-70 and I-270: Take I-270 south to I-64/40 west to the Clarkson/Olive exit (19-B). Turn right on Olive; Faust Park is about two miles down the road on the left.
The Faust Park phone number is (314) 615-8328.