"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
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Kenmore

Address: 1201 Washington Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Phone: 540.373.3381
Web site: http://www.kenmore.org

Kenmore, the home of Betty Washington, sister of George Washington, and her husband, Colonel Fielding Lewis, a strong supporter of the Revolutionary cause, was once the main dwelling on a plantation of 1,300 acres near Fredericksburg, Va. After Betty Lewis's death in 1797, the property changed hands until being purchased by the Gordon family in 1819, who actually named it "Kenmore." It remained in private hands until the Kenmore Association (now known as George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation) saved the house from destruction in the 1920s. The Garden Club of Virginia took an interest in the restoration of its gardens in 1924, although work did not begin in earnest until 1929, when the acquisition of adjoining property enabled the application of a plan conceived by famed landscape architect Charles F. Gillette. Imaginative fund-raising to support the project led to the creation of what is now a highly popular annual event, Historic Garden Week. Acquisition of additional land and buildings on the eastern side of the mansion allowed an expansion of the original plan, including the construction of an enclosing wall, that was undertaken by the design and under the direction of Gillette beginning in 1940. The restoration of the Kenmore gardens was the first of The Garden Club's restoration projects and thus set precedents for all of the club's future endeavors.

As a part of all of The Garden Club's restoration projects, committee members visit sites regularly following the restoration work. As Ralph E. Griswold, fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, has explained: "Realizing that restoration without intelligent maintenance was as foolish as expecting plants not to grow, The Garden Club required owners to guarantee perpetual maintenance and provided for periodic inspection to ensure the fulfillment of that guarantee." In the case of Kenmore, this led to additional plans in the early 1990s, including the design of a "wilderness walk" along the southwestern edge of the Kenmore property prepared by the Club's landscape architect, Rudy J. Favretti of Connecticut.

Note:
The images presented here record various stages of the property's landscape restoration. Since additional work has been supported by The Garden Club of Virginia at many properties, these images do not necessarily represent the current-day experience. Also, accession numbers reflect the year in which an image was received by the Virginia Historical Society, not the year in which it was taken.

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Description

Walkway to the rear entrance to Kenmore, lined with common boxwood.

Slide, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Museum Collection
Accession number: 1997.31.1.G

View from the rear porch at Kenmore toward the walkway and gardens

Slide, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Museum Collection
Accession number: 1997.31.1.C

Entrance walk and gate, featuring tree-shaded lawn at the front of the house

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Museum Collection
Accession number: 1997.31.1.L

Garden walk

Slide, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Museum Collection
Accession number: 1997.31.1.B

The enclosing garden wall. Built at the direction of The Garden Club, the wall was modeled after the enclosure at Ware Church in Gloucester County.

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Museum Collection
Accession number: 1997.31.1.M

The Entrance lawn

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Museum Collection
Accession number: 1997.31.1.K

Another view of the entrance lawn and walk

Photographic print, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscripts Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

The garden sundial

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

The rear garden is planted with an array of authentic perennials arranged on an eighteenth-century formal garden plan

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

Descending the stone stairs toward the garden gate

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

The garden gate

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 4

View of the Garden pavilion, which was copied from the pavilion at Federal Hill in Fredericksburg

Photographic print, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 4

Proposed Arrangement for the Grounds at Kenmore, by Charles F. Gillette, 1925

Drawing, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Wall Details for Kenmore in Fredericksburg, by Charles F. Gillette, 1930

Drawing, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Additional brick walks at Kenmore, by Charles F. Gillette, 1936. New walks circled the mansion house and included some re-laying of extant walkways

Drawing, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Garden Walls and Fence Details for Kenmore, by Charles F. Gillette, 1940

Drawing, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Planting Plan for the Wilderness Walk, southwest of the mansion house and gift shop, by Rudy J. Favretti, 1992

Drawing, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Border Bed and Details, Kenmore, by Rudy J. Favretti, 1992. Border for the Wilderness Walk, with plant specifications

Drawing, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 3

Report of the chairman of the Kenmore Committee, Mrs. Thomas S. (Laura Martin) Wheelwright, May 18, 1932. Provides thorough documentation of the first phase of the Kenmore restoration and related activities

Report, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3

Invoice, 1940, of Charles F. Gillette for work done at Kenmore in the second phase of the initial restoration, including construction of gates and walls

Invoice, Gardens, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2

Restoration Committee Report, ca. 1993, including a summary of the Kenmore project and landscape plans

Report, Restoration Committee, Kenmore, Fredericksburg, Va.
Manuscript Collection
Call number: Mss3 G1673 a Section 2
Multiple Page Document:  Page 1  |  Page 2

 

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Last updated March 15, 2011