Save River Farm Committee
Nominated by the Blue Ridge Garden Club

River Farm, on the banks of the Potomac River south of Old Town Alexandria, was originally part of George Washington’s land holdings. It remained in the family through the 1850s. The next century saw a succession of owners until Edith Annenberg Haupt, philanthropist, gardener, and American Horticultural Society board member, helped thwart a move by the Soviet Embassy to convert the property into a dacha for its staff. She was instrumental in securing River Farm as the AHS headquarters.

This historically significant landscape was redesigned by the Olmsted Bros. once it became AHS headquarters. When AHS desperately needed revenue to weather the effects of the pandemic, the property was listed for sale. The threat of development of this open, green and public space spurred Save River Farm, a grassroots initiative which spread to the local community and then to the state and national level—all thanks to the Save River Farm Committee. It was an unprecedented campaign that brought together like-minded historical, architectural and conservation organizations, parks groups, civic associations, committed neighbors and political leaders. The committee worked with local governments to establish an Historic Overlay District on the property to control development in case the property was sold. The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust stepped up to house the Save River Farm effort under its auspices, and the Northern Virginia Park Authority mobilized efforts to buy the property. Local volunteers played a key part in keeping the public informed of ongoing developments. After a year-long battle, AHS announced that River Farm will continue as the AHS headquarters and remain open to the public.

This outstanding collaboration resulted in the protection of this beautiful historic property.


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