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Theodore Roosevelt Island, Potomac River, Washington, District of Columbia, DC

Theodore Roosevelt Island, Potomac River, Washington, District of Columbia, DC

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description

Summary

See also HABS DC-28 for additional documentation, includes drawings, photographs, and written data.
See also HAER VA-87, includes written data.
Significance: Theodore Roosevelt Island's primary significance rests on its role as a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt and his devotion to the conservation of America's natural resources. However, the site also enjoys a rich history with several additional periods of significance. Throughout its evolution, topography and geology have always mandated settlement patterns on and the development of the island landscape.

Archeological evidence shows that the island was in use by the area's Native American tribes from prehistory until the early eighteenth century. Furthermore, the island's alternate name of Analostan likely originated through an association with the Necostin (Anacostian) Indians. In 1717, Revolutionary Patriot George Mason IV, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, acquired the Island and established a ferry there in 1748. His son, John Mason, developed the island as a plantation estate and built a causeway connecting with the Virginia coast and a large Federal-style mansion, also named Analostan. The alternate historical name of Mason's Island stems from the Mason family's ownership of the site. Later, during the Civil War, Union forces occupied Theodore Roosevelt Island. During the summer of 1863 the island functioned as the camp of the 1st United States Colored Troops, an African American regiment composed of free blacks and escaped slaves. From May 1864-June 1865 a freedmen's refugee camp occupied much of the island, including the Mason mansion.

Following a long period of transient ownership, short-term tenancy, and disuse, the Roosevelt Memorial Association (RMA) purchased the island in 1931 as a national memorial to the former president. The following year the RMA gave the island to the federal government, but maintained planting and development rights. Between 1934-1945 the RMA retained renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to replant the island as a planned wilderness "to be preserved as nearly as possible as in its natural state." This concept of designed nature is significant in that it forces people to rethink the human relationship with the natural world, and indeed, what constitutes nature. Less abstractly, the planting plan, carried out by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers, "represents one of the most complete expressions of Olmsted's ideals on scenic preservation, through his attempt to recreate the island's presumed former appearance so that it could continue its natural evolution to a stable, 'climax' forest." Finally, Gugler's plaza and Manship's Theodore Roosevelt sculpture represent a distinct step in the development of presidential memorials within Washington, DC.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N15
Survey number: HALS DC-12
Building/structure dates: 1733-1792 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 1792-1833 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: ca. 1797- 1802 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: ca. 1796- ca. 1802 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 1852-1861 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1861-1865 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1863-1863 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1864-1864
Building/structure dates: 1864-1865 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1865-1867
Building/structure dates: 1867-1909 Demolished
Building/structure dates: ca. 1887- 1892 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1913-1914
Building/structure dates: 1914-1931
Building/structure dates: 1931-current Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1932-1947 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1932-1947 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1932-1947 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1933-current Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1934- ca. 1941 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1956-1966 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1956-1967 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: ca. 1961- 1966 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1963-1966 Subsequent Work
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 66000869

label_outline

Tags

date_range

Date

1920 - 1940
person

Contributors

Historic American Landscapes Survey, creator
Mason, George, IV, Owner
Mason, John, Owner
Hadfield, George
Hepburn, David
Bradley, William A., Sr.
1st U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment
Truth, Sojourner
Association of Friends for the Aid and Elevation of the Freedmen
Bradley, William A., Sr.
Bradley Family
Columbia Athletic Club
Leiter, Joseph
Washington Gas Light Company
Roosevelt Memorial Association (Theodore Roosevelt Association)
Olmsted, Frederick Law, Jr., Landscape Architect
Hubbard, Henry V.
Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects
National Park Service
Civilian Conservation Corps
Manship, Paul
Gugler, Eric
Fonderia Artistica Battaglia
Baldi & Sons
Dolinsky, Paul D., Chief, Historic American Landscapes Survey
O'Connor, Richard, Chief, Heritage Documentation Programs
Vela, David, superintendent
Muller, Bonita, project manager
Wenchel, Andrew, architect
NPS, George Washington Memorial Parkway
place

Location

create

Source

Library of Congress
copyright

Copyright info

No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government; images copied from other sources may be restricted. http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/114_habs.html

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