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SUB-SERIES — Folder: 12 Identifier: DDO-RB-GAR-001

Dumbarton Oaks Garden, Director's House and Terrace

Scope and Contents

Seven black and white photographs of exterior and interior views of the Director's House and Terrace. Before 1941, the building that anchored the southern side of the Service Court was the Garage. The second-floor residential rooms housed some of the Blisses’ male staff.

After the Robert and Mildred Bliss gifted Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University, architect Thomas T. Waterman converted the upstairs living areas into a single residence for John Thacher and his family. The footprint of the building remained the same until 1949, when G. Morris Steinbraker and Company constructed a two-story addition on the northeast end facing the Service Court. Further additions by Steinbraker in 1969 expanded the living quarters south into the existing terrace.

For the plantings around the Director’s House, Farrand emphasized privacy. Screens of trees, deciduous and evergreen, were planted on the east and west to block views from the North Vista and the Service Court driveway. The terrace to the south of the residence featured two pre-Bliss sycamores set into deep tree wells. A Rococo-style wooden trellis cut the terrace off from the Bowling Green to the south until 1949-1950, when it was removed due to rot. Ruth Havey took the removal of the trellis as an opportunity to reenvision the entire terrace. She wrote to Mildred Bliss in 1950 about transforming the terrace into a private, light, and airy entertainment space. By 1963, the terrace featured a brick patio between the sycamores, with steps leading south into the Bowling Green. The addition of wooden tables with iron chairs provided for outdoor dining.


  • 1921-1979

Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in English with a few items in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, or Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

An appointment is required to consult the collection. Please submit appointment requests here: For research queries, contact the staff of Rare Book Collection (


8 linear feet (23 boxes of textual material with approximately 2631 items; 2411 drawings; and 1235 photographs)

Repository Details

Part of the Dumbarton Oaks Repository

Dumbarton Oaks holds archival collections in its Rare Book Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, and the Dumbarton Oaks Archives. The collections include: the papers of noteworthy scholars in the three fields that Dumbarton Oaks supports (Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape); image collections depicting objects or sites of topical interest to scholars in the three fields; Beatrix Farrand’s personal archive of letters and original drawings that document the development of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden; and institutional records and architectural plans and drawings documenting the history of Dumbarton Oaks. For more information about hours and to make an appointment to consult any of the collections listed here, please fill out the request form:

1703 32nd Street, NW
Washington DC 20007 USA