Sophia M. Sachs was the widow of Sam Sachs, who founded Sachs Electric Co. and was influential in the development of Chesterfield, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Mrs. Sachs retained her wonder of discovery until her death in May 1999. She shared that beauty with children of all ages through life. This facility is named in honor of her generous spirit.
The Butterfly House is a not-for-profit organization which was established in 1995 to increase awareness of the natural habitat in which butterflies thrive. Officers of the corporation were: Evelyn E. Newman, Lucy Lopata, Linda Penniman, Caroline Loughlin and Charles A. Lowenhaupt. The new facility was built entirely with private funds provided through donations of foundations, corporations, individuals, as well as membership support.
Ground was broken in June of 1997 and construction began on the Butterfly House. The 8,000 square foot Conservatory Garden is sheathed in 646 pieces of glass, each measuring 4' X 6' and weighing approximately 200 pounds. The center vault, soaring 36' 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 the butterflies. An additional 8,000 square feet adjacent to the Conservatory houses a classroom, theater, visitor amenities and gift shop. Christner, Inc., Bannes Consulting and BSI Constructors executed the design, project management and construction.
The Butterfly House opened its doors to the public on September 18, 1998 and provides educational opportunities to a diverse visitorship. In 2000 the outdoor area known as the Butterfly Garden was dedicated. The Butterfly House offers education programs, special events, lectures and, of course, the chance to witness butterflies in two habitats, one native and one tropical.
In July, 2001, the Butterfly House became a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden, a leader in horticultural displays, research and education. The following year, 2002, the second expansion of the facility opened and was designated the "Emerson Lakeside Terrace". This plaza area is the site for many special events, both public and private. The same year, the Butterfly House began participating with Butterfly Conservation Initiative, BFCI, of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the next year it was accredited by the AZA becoming the only dedicated insect facility in this organization.
The historic Faust Family greenhouse structure was renovated in 2007 and began supplying a significant portion of animal food needs, especially nectar for the butterflies. In 2007, the Butterfly House was also recognized by El Bosque Nuevo as providing funding, through purchases of pupae from this sustainable butterfly farming operation in Costa Rica, to purchase more than 16 acres of land for the protected reserve.