Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy Celebrates ‘America’s Secret Garden’

Supporters and friends of Dumbarton Oaks Park celebrated the opening of the gates to the park at Lovers’ Lane April 12, the day that the park opened to the public for the first time in 1941.

With work completed by the springtime, members of the National Park Service and the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy gathered to enjoy the day and Georgetown’s renewed treasure of parkland. Among the crowd were Tara Morrison and Rebecca Karcher of NPS as well as landscape architect Mike McMahon — and conservancy members: board president Rebecca Trafton, restoration director Ann Aldrich, Liza Gilbert, Lindsey Milstein and Cecile Warnock.

Later in the month, Trafton had a special Earth Day message for friends of the park: “Two years ago, when Betsy Rogers of the Central Park Conservancy was speaking on our behalf at the Embassy of Italy, she challenged us to announce a first phase of Restoration.”

“We did: I announced the two-acre Signature Project at the entrance to the park, and on Earth Day 2012, we appealed to the public for the first time, asking for support to begin restoration.”

“Now, two years later, we are completing this $250,000 project, thanks to $50,000 from the National Park Foundation matched by our donors, $50,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and more than $100,000 worth of contributed trees and volunteer labor.”

“It has been a remarkable success — and suddenly from the bridge, one can look up, over erosion control matting, to Cherry Hill at Dumbarton Oaks and sense a connection between the Upper Gardens and the Lower Gardens, long lost and now regained. Sincere thanks are due to Rock Creek Park National Park Service staff, Signature Project Committee chair Liza Gilbert, Restoration Director Ann Aldrich, and the whole wonderful team of board members, friends and volunteers.”

The Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy is a non-profit organization established in 2010 that seeks to restore the bulk of one of America’s ten greatest garden landscape designs, namely 27-acre Dumbarton Oaks Park, formerly part of the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Georgetown. The estate is a milestone in the history of American landscape architecture and a landmark in our social history since it is the finest work of Beatrix Farrand, America’s first female professional landscape architect.


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