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Jul 15, 2015 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association announced today the opening of a new exhibit, The Kennedy Rose Garden, Traditionally American, which explores President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 vision for a new garden adjacent to the Oval Office. The exhibit is free and open to the public July 16 – September 12, 2015; Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m – 3 p.m.

The Rose Garden was designed by Mrs. Rachel Lambert Mellon, and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy personally thanked her by creating a “memory book” chronicling the transformation of the garden. This private album was presented to Mrs. Mellon in 1966. It is presented to the public in its entirety for the first time in the exhibit.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to digitally turn the pages of the large book, viewing the photos, plant clippings, personal notes, and select video footage of President Kennedy in the completed garden. A re-creation of the steps the president personally selected for the garden is included in the exhibit as well.

“Bringing to life the historic stories and spaces of the White House is the distinct privilege of the White House Historical Association,” said Stewart McLaurin, the Association’s president. “This exhibit will allow the public to appreciate the careful thought and design that went into the Rose Garden by President and Mrs. Kennedy, as well as the larger role the garden has played as a private space for first families and a public setting for many diplomatic and ceremonial events.”

Also included in the exhibit are personal letters between landscape architect Perry H. Wheeler, Mrs. Kennedy, and others discussing the items needed to create the “memory book” for Mrs. Mellon. A bench, identical to those in use in the Rose Garden, is also on view.

Since its creation as a period-appropriate “colonial garden” by First Lady Edith Roosevelt in 1902, the West Garden, the precursor to the Rose Garden, has been seen as a standout garden among the beautiful and lush gardens and grounds that comprise the 86-acre White House grounds. First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson inspired more formal plantings in the garden in 1913.

President Kennedy’s transformation of the garden has proven to stand the test of time and has become an iconic backdrop for the nine presidents who have continued to use the space as he envisioned, as a garden that is “traditionally American.”

Exhibit Details, Events, & Related Materials

The Kennedy Rose Garden, Traditionally American

  • July 16 – September 12, 2015
  • Monday – Saturday, 10a.m. – 3p.m.
  • Closed August 7, 8, and Sept. 7.
  • Entrance: 748 Jackson Place, NW Washington, D.C. 20006

The Kennedy Rose Garden Open House

Join us for a fabulous, free garden party as we celebrate and explore the Rose Garden through activities, discussion, crafts and more. Activities for all ages, families are encouraged to attend.

  • Sunday, August 2, 2015 10a.m. – 3p.m.

White House History Journal: President Kennedy’s Rose Garden

Just released, the latest issue of the Association’s awarding winning publication features new scholarship and articles on President Kennedy’s Rose Garden and other related White House articles and other related White House articles. It is available for purchase in the Association’s stores or online at shop.whitehousehistory.org.

About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $45 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission. 

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org

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