The symposium will feature stories of the extraordinary women whose vision and leadership blazed new trails in historic preservation and land conservation.: Ann Pamela Cunningham, founder of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association; Alice Ferguson, artist and amateur archaeologist, who began the effort to protect the natural landscape along the Potomac across from Mount Vernon; and Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton, who halted commercial development along the Potomac through purchase of a key property and then created the Accokeek Foundation to continue preservation efforts. A coalition of partners launched a campaign that led to permanent protection of this landscape through the creation of Piscataway Park, a significant milestone in the history of land conservation and public / private partnerships.
2:00 - 2:15
Barbara B. Lucas, Regent Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association
Welcome and Introduction
2:15 - 2:45
Julia A. King, Professor, St. Mary’s College, Maryland, The Nation’s River: History, Environment, and Stewardship in the Potomac River Valley
2:45 - 3:15
Carol Cadou, Vice President Historic Preservation and Collections, Mount Vernon
“Religiously Guarded from Change”: Ann Pamela Cunningham’s Vision for George Washington’s Mount Vernon
3:15 - 3:45
Lori Arguelles, Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation, The Many A’s of Alice: The Life and Legacy of Alice Ferguson
3:45 - 4:00
4:00 - 4:30
John H. Sprinkle, Jr., Bureau Historian, National Park Service, Valuing Vision: Frances Payne Bolton and the Preservation of George’s Washington’s “Overview”
4:30 - 5:00
Lisa Hayes, President, Accokeek Foundation, A View for the Future
5:00 - 6:00
Cocktails in Ann Pamela Cunningham Building and tours of the Viewshed and Mansion
Julia A. King
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
By the mid-20th-century, the Potomac River had become both “the nation’s river” and, in President Johnson’s words, a “national disgrace.” The first label acknowledged the river’s unparalleled role in American history while the second lamented the environmental challenges the last hundred years had visited upon the Potomac. These environmental challenges had been shaped by the river’s history, from population growth to westward expansion, from rising standards of living to issues of state sovereignty. This presentation provides a regional context for the stewardship first modeled by Ann Pamela Cunningham and, nearly a century later, by Alice Ferguson and Frances Payne Bolton. These women recognized that the Potomac’s environmental history is indivisible from its human history, and that land conservation and historic preservation are obvious bedfellows. It’s a lesson that bears repeating in the 21st century.
Vice President Historic Preservation & Collections, MVLA
When Ann Pamela Cunningham founded the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in 1853, she charted new territory for female philanthropy in America as well as historic preservation in this country. Her early efforts to protect and to preserve George Washington’s Mount Vernon articulated what has become known as Whole Place Preservation. The members of the Ladies’ Association who have followed Cunningham have religiously followed her lead in guarding Mount Vernon lands and views from change. This illustrated lecture explores the roots of land conservation in Cunningham’s 19th century vision as well as in the 20th and 21st century efforts of the Regents and Vice Regents who have followed her.
Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation
As a woman coming of age at the turn of the 20th century, Alice L. L. Ferguson lived and worked during both World Wars, The Jazz Age, the Great Depression and the New Deal that brought intellectual energy to Washington, DC. During this time the modern woman challenged past norms finding a new voice through education, creative expression, travel, activism and independence. Alice was an accomplished artist that trained at the Corcoran School of Art. Her marriage to Henry G. Ferguson, a world-renowned geologist, presaged a life of adventure and travel that also involved purchasing a ’country home’—Hard Bargain Farm--in Accokeek, MD. This avant-garde adventurer became an architect, agrarian, activist, archeologist and author, all as a result of that purchase. Instrumental in shaping and ultimately preserving the landscape now known as the Mount Vernon viewshed, we owe much to the amazing life and legacy of Alice L. L. Ferguson.
John H. Sprinkle, Jr., Ph.D.
Bureau Historian, National Park Service
Representative Francis Payne Bolton, who served as Vice Regent for Ohio from 1938 to the late-1970s, is generally considered “second only to Ann Pamela Cunningham” for her contribution to the preservation of Mount Vernon. This often-quoted accolade stems from her dedication during the third quarter of the twentieth century to ensuring that the view across the Potomac River from the estate would never be compromised by unsightly development. The significance of Mrs. Bolton’s vision and the value she placed on preserving what contemporaries called Washington’s “overview” can be elucidated by seating her achievements within a national context for the historic preservation and land conservation movements from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.
Lisa Hayes, PhD
President and CEO, The Accokeek Foundation
How can the legacy of these "women with a view" shape the preservation landscape of the future? Dr. Hayes will explore the opportunities for transforming this history-making effort of the past into the centerpiece of a national conversation on a holistic approach to conservation and preservation.
Lisa Hayes, PhD. As President of the Accokeek Foundation, Dr. Hayes continues the Foundation’s pivotal work in preservation of the Mount Vernon Viewshed that was the original reason for the Foundation's creation in 1957, Through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service, the Accokeek Foundation connects visitors to history, agriculture, and nature through its stewardship of 200 acres of Piscataway Park and educational programming at the National Colonial Farm and the Ecosystem Farm. She serves as co-chair of the Potomac River Heritage Tourism Alliance and is on the Indigenous Cultural Landscape team of the National Park Service's Captain John Smith Trail. Before earning a PhD in American Studies at the University at Buffalo, Hayes was an actress and playwright. She continues her creative work when possible, and will be debuting a new solo play on women and war in The Hague in April.