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Rose Greely, Landscape Architect

In 1925 at the age of 38, Rose Greely became the first licensed female architect in Washington, DC. Greely is known as a pioneering landscape architect, who ran her own thriving firm for 40 years, working primarily (though not exclusively) on residential commissions. Among her clients were ambassadors, senators, businessmen, military figures, and socialites – including a few who called Tenleytown home.

Greely designed gardens at Under Oak, a private residence on Nebraska Avenue owned by the granddaughter of the founder of Dow Chemical Company, and also worked the grounds of 4000 Nebraska Avenue. The latter is now the site of the residence of the Ambassador of Japan, but was the home of Mrs. Andrew Parker, whose husband had been the president of the department store Woodward & Lothrop. Greely also designed pathways, plantings, and a playground for the Hillcrest Children’s Home, now the site of the National Presbyterian School.

In 1916, Greely joined a handful of young women to train under Harvard architecture professor Henry Atherton Frost at the Cambridge School of Domestic and Landscape Architecture for Women, a school Frost helped found that later became a part of Smith College. Greely completed her coursework in 1920 and thereafter worked in Boston for several landscape architects and for House Beautiful as a writer. Greely returned to Washington, DC, in 1923 and worked for architect Horace Peaslee for a couple of years until she opened her own business.

Though Greely was the first woman licensed as an architect in Washington, she was not the only woman architect practicing in the area at the time. Greely collaborated on projects with Gertrude Sawyer, another Cambridge School graduate and Peaslee protégée, including, Point Farm, the country retreat of Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson Patterson in Calvert County, MD. Point Farm, now the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, offers an opportunity for the public to see the works of these two together.

Additional information about Greely, Sawyer, and 10 other women architects who practiced in Maryland from the 1920s to the 1960s, can be found in the Baltimore Architecture Foundation’s online exhibit, Early Women in Architecture in Maryland.


Remarkable Foundations: Rose Ishbel Greely, Landscape Architect, Author(s): Joanne Seale Lawson, Source: Washington History, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring/Summer, 1998), pp. 46-69

A Guide to the Rose Greely Architectural Drawsings and Papers, 1909-1961, University of Virginia Library Special Collections Department, Accession Number 10772. 

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