Dumbarton Oaks is a famous 19th century mansion situated in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) famous for its gardens. Currently housing the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, a scholarship center for Byzantine studies and landscape architecture history( since the year 1940) which now publishes the journal Dumbarton Oaks Papers and other reference books in their major field, this mansion was built in 1800 as a residence to U.S. Senator and Vice President John C. Calhoun. However later, it was bought and owned by Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss who in turn was an art collector and thus cherished a taste for “classical” masterpieces with beautiful creativity.
The gardens of Dumbarton Oaks which are about are about ten acres (which is nearly four hectares) in area, were designed by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in the period between 1922 and1947. Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss collaborated with him in this work. Since then, many other architects worked with Mildred Bliss, to name a few, Philip Johnson, Ruth Havey and Alden Hopkins, to change and modify certain elements of design by Farrand. Although the book written by Farrand “Plant Book “ that compiles her suggestions and directions for the maintenance of these gardens still proves to be effiecient even after more than 65 years.
A series of terraces on the hill behind the mansion mark these beautiful gardens. Among them are Beech Terrace, Lover’s Lane Pool, Pebble Terrace, Urn Terrace, formal Rose Garden, Star Garden, Green Garden and Arbor Terrace. They comprise of the Star Garden, Green Garden, and Beach Terrace along with the Urn Terrace, formal Rose Garden, Arbor Terrace and not to forget the remarkable Fountain Terrace, Lover’s Lane Pool, and Pebble Terrace. Also comprising the scenic natural surroundings are Prunus Walk, Camellia Circle, Crabapple Hill, Forsythia Hill, Cherry Hill and Fairview Hill. These altogether present quite a majestic view for the visitors.
The famous “Dumbarton Oaks” concerto gets its name from this mansion surrounded by these beautiful gardens, after Mr. Bliss commissioned Igor Stravinsky for a concerto on the occasion of his thirtieth wedding anniversary in 1938. In 1940, the Blisses donated their large and important collections of artifacts and books together with the house and its grounds to establish the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection the management of which now lies in the hands of trustees of Harvard University.
There are two visiting seasons for these gardens i.e. the regular season and the winter season. During the regular season, the gardens remain open for public viewing from 15th to October 31st between 2:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m. except on Mondays. During the winter season, the gardens remain open for public viewing from 1st to 14th March between 2:00 p.m and 5:00 p.m. except on Mondays. However the gardens remain closed during unpleasant weather, federal holidays as well as on Christmas Eve. The admission charges to the gardens are $8.00 for general and $5.00 for senior citizens (ages 60 +), students, and children (ages 2–12). However there are no entry fees for Harvard students, faculty, & staff.