Thursday, December 3, 2015

New! Treekeeper Workshop Dec 6, 11-1 pm

Join our Treekeepers this Sunday! From 11 am our team will help needy city trees near Emmet Park. This is a triangle park along Mass Ave between 24th and S Streets, facing the Chad Embassy at 2401 Mass Ave (where RMA arranged many trees).

Look for our red wagon and white sign. For updates on the day, text Jon Gossens 802-272-0332. Best to wear dirt-friendly clothing and shoes. You may just appear. Or sign in on our Volunteer page.  We’ll have the RMA release form for new volunteers to sign upon arrival.

What's Emmet Park? Learn why it is important on our Historic Initiative page. RMA is pushing to save the big Deodar cedar and to add new shade trees there. Besides the cedrus Deodara the park has a black gum tree, Nyssa sylvatica, we planted in 2008. See their foliage below.
Foliage and branches of Deodar cedar in Emmet Park. (RMA)

Fall foliage of black gum tree we planted in Emmet Park. (RMA)

 Who are our volunteers? RMA volunteers come from different backgrounds and parts of the Metro area. They work as best fits their schedules. They do the essential work of our nonprofit organization.

Please visit the Volunteer page and tell us your skills and interests. Many of those who help are pictured as Faces of RMA on our Why Restore Mass Ave page. Our volunteer Associates and Board of Directors are pictured here on the site.

We LOVE our volunteers! See you Sunday!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Emmet Park: Statue and Cedar can Coexist

The proposed removal of a large Deodar cedar tree (cedrus Deodora) in Emmet Park may be unneccessary, said Restore Mass Ave in a Comment to the National Park Service on November 11. The park is in a triangle of land bounded by Mass Ave, 24th and S Street NW; the large, gray-green evergreen is a notable feature of this part of Embassy Row.

The Park Service has proposed removing the big tree to make the statue of Irish patriot Robert Emmet more visible. Also because sap drip from its branches allegedly could harm the bronze statue.

Based on expert advice, Restore Mass Ave suggested the cedar can remain without sap drip harming the statue.  This finding is in a Note on Statue and Sap which accompanied the filing. For the complete filing see Our PDFs page.

Our group also proposed planting two new shade trees on the neglected upper slopes of the park, in the DC land which runs along the curbs. This area at  S and 24th Streets is now a hot traffic corner. Tall trees there would be away from, yet frame the statue and connect the formal streetscape of Mass Ave with the old-growth forested hill of Kalorama.

Please visit our Historic Landscape Initiative page to view a slideshow of Restore Mass Ave's work near Emmet Park. We've arranged new trees; we care for    several of them ourselves. The embassies of Chad and of Cameroon also care for trees facing the park. Catoctin Construction, which is renovating the Embassy of Cameroon, refilled the water baga around a young cherrywe planted in the park. (see Tree Care Blog, January 2012.)

All these activities, together, fit RMA's motto: "Many stakeholders, one landscape."    

Right: Three matching "Red Sunset" red maple street trees in glorious fall colors. They face the Embassy of Chad (2401 Mass) and are cared for by that Embassy. They are across S Street from Emmet Park.

All photos: Restore Mass Ave

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pest Harming District's Willow Oaks

Restore Mass Ave announced today that it has treated the willow oaks on historic Embassy Row infected by a pest called oak lecanium scale (Parthenolecanium quercifix). But other willow oaks along DC streets are suffering badly from this pest.

This warning was issued today by the manager of RMA's project, William Eck of Bartlett Tree Expert Company in Gaithersburg, Md.  Though this scale has been known a long time, Eck warns that it is getting worse.
Damaged pin oak, 2500 block of Mass Ave.

Eck, who is an arborist and manager for Bartlett, said some of the badly infected trees are majestic willow oaks along MacArthur Boulevard, Lowell Street and Loughboro Road and 46th Street in Northwest.  Eck also reports bad scale damage to these iconic trees on M Street and nearby streets in Southeast. Many of these large, majestic willow oaks are city "street trees."

In today's press release with Eck's warning, Restore Mass Ave called on the DC Urban Forestry Administration, which has charge of the city's 131,000 street trees, to inform the public whether the threat from oak lecanium scale is getting worse. In the past, this well-known scale tended to fade away each season so treatment was not needed.

Residents and businesses should look for signs of scale on the willow and pin oaks (see RMA photo). RMA President Deborah Shapley urged the public "to consider treatment for less damaged and nearby undamaged trees." The scale spreads from tree to tree and does not respect boundaries between city-owned street trees and privately maintained trees nearby.
Oak lecanium scales along twig of a Mass Ave willow oak.

After Eck /Bartlett identified the scale as damaging or about to damage twelve trees in the 2500 block of Mass Ave, RMA hired the firm to treat the trees; some were city trees, and some were second row trees facing them across the sidewalk. Go to our Second Row of Trees page for more on our project which could be a model for public-private response to the threat.

Nearly all of the hundreds of trees along the Embassy Row part of Massachusetts Avenue NW are lindens or elms. RMA has also arranged swamp white oaks (Quercus bicolor) which is in a sub-genus of the oak family that this pest does not care about.  Fortunately, just twelve willow oaks and pin oaks were judged at risk. For more info and a photo of our worst damaged tree please visit our Green Your Street page.

Eck says watering and mulching are the best way to prevent the scale from hurting these trees. When they grow healthy and strong, they can resist these pests.

Photos: Restore Mass Ave

Monday, August 31, 2015

Netherlands Residence benefit draws new supporters

Many new supporters came to the reception honoring the work of Restore Mass Ave, hosted by the Netherlands Ambassador H.E. Rudolph Bekink and Mrs. Gabrielle de Kuyper Bekink, at their stunning Residence overlooking Massachusetts Avenue.

The event was covered in Washington Life and The Georgetowner. See In the News.

John Peters Irelan, Benefit Chairman, and the Benefit Committee made it a great evening. They won support even from those who could not attend, as it was a busy May evening. 

Visit our new 2015 Benefit page for event photos, key supporters and the 2015 Committee.
Guests listen to (brief) remarks about Restore Mass Ave.

H.E. Rudolph Bekink and Mrs. Bekink
John Peters Irelan and Barbara Jones
Top and left photos: Washington Life Magazine                    Lower right photo: Jillian Fishman/RMA

The residence at Massachusetts Avenue, S and 24th Streets faces the federal triangle park featuring the statue of Irish patriot Robert Emmet. RMA is reviving the historic landscape in this area, through tree plantings with several embassies, supporting tree services and work by volunteer Treekeepers.  At the party Treekeepers sported their "No Mulch Volcano" buttons. Below Treekeepers Jon Gossens and Caitlin Phillips spread the word.

Jon Gossens and Caitlin Phillips

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Award ceremony for our book at Constitution Hall

Here are photos of the award ceremony for RMA's book and its print and online design, held May 6 at DAR Constitution Hall.
Left to right: Deborah Shapley, Author and President of RMA;` Sally Murray James of Cutting Edge Design; Jillian Fishman of the RMA Board of Directors; Gill Fishman of Gill Fishman Associates, and Gretchen Pfaehler, Chair, DC Historic Preservation Review Board. More than 500 people attended the event and reception for the thirteen awards.

Below: A video about our project was shown to the audience. The video is here. Videos about all the winning projects are here on YouTube. They were made by videographer Jason Hornick.

The annual awards have been given since 2003 by the Office of Historic Preservation of the District of Columbia Office of Planning.

They are co-sponsored by the DC Historic Preservation Office, the DC Preservation League, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

Among other 2015 winners were the L'Enfant Trust Historic Properties Redevelopment Program which creates affordable housing in the Anacostia neighborhood, from older homes about to meet the wrecking ball.  Another winner was the sole Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the area. The mostly immigrant congregation needed a home for worship, and created it from an unused 19th century fire station. 
The award to Restore Mass Ave's book was the only one featuring landscape restoration and environment. It was great to have Gill Fishman on hand. His Cambridge, Mass., firm designed how the trees, greenspace and Beaux Arts architecture of Embassy Row could be experienced online. o our new website. Also RMA's new logo, designed by the Fishman firm, had won a Graphic Design USA award. So kudos were in order!

  The program and RMA award plaque.

The two top photos are courtesy of Jason Hornick. Other photos are by Jillian Fishman/RMA.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

RMA book wins 2015 Historic Preservation Award!

Our new book, A Grand Avenue Revival, has won the 2015 District of Columbia Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation in Public Education. The award is made annually by the DC Historic Preservation Office with cosponsors.
Cover and sample page from A Grand Avenue Revival

"This award hugely strengthens our campaign to persuade Embassy Row stakeholders to invest in green elements that revive the original landscape in a way appropriate for the 21st century," said RMA President Deborah Shapley.

"We hope it will make more people turn to this book, because it shows others how to 'green' their streets, besides serving as a guide to our landscape projects here," she said.

Order your free print copy here or download the pdf. 

A Grand Avenue Revival was written by Shapley and available free of charge. The design and printing was sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and local groups.*

Co-winners are the book designer, Cutting Edge Design (Sally Murray James, principal), and Gill Fishman Design (Gll Fishman, principal).  The Fishman firm designed RMA's web site and brand to enhance RMA's book and historic program. The firm also won a Graphic Design USA Award for the new RMA logo.

The public is invited to Constitution Hall on May 6, when 13 Historic Preservation awards will be presented to 43 individuals, firms and organizations. Those attending will see a video about each winning project.
DAR Constitution Hall
Wednesday May 6, 2015
DAR Constitution Hall.
1776 D Street NW
7 pm  awards ceremony; reception follows.

Registration opens soon.
Check RMA's Upcoming Events page or
 the Preservation Office event page.

       The event will draw a Who's Who of planners, preservationists, and leaders concerned with the capital city. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to attend.  The venue will be appropriatly grand: Constitution Hall was designed by John Russell Pope for the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). It was built in 1929, the era when many "palaces" were designed along Massachusetts Avenue to fit among the landscape of majestic trees already there.

      Restore Mass Ave's award adds an environmental dimension to this year's winners. "We are reviving the landscape that connects and explains Mass Ave's architecture and purpose, while showing how "greening" will help the city in future," Shapley says.

     The  Historic Preservation Office, part of DC Office of Planning, cosponsors this annual award with the DC Preservation League  and the DAR.  We at RMA welcome news that another winner will be Sally Berk, a well-known architectural historian and Kalorama neighbor, who will receive the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award.

      Go here for the 2014 Historic Preservation Awardees and videos about those projects.

* A Grand Avenue Revival: Massachusetts Avenue Landscape History & Design Guide,
Sponsors for design & production:
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Sheridan Kalorama Neighborhood Council
Sheridan Kalorama Historic .. Association
Dupont Circle Citizens Association 

DAR Constitution Hall photo: Party Earth 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

RMA's new logo wins national award!

Our new logo won a national award! Gill Fishman Associates earned a prize for the new RMA logo in Graphic Design USA's yearly competition. The Fishman firm, which designed RMA's web site and brand, walked off with 17 awards in this competition, in which thousands of firms around the country submit their designs.

You can find our new logo throughout RMA's social media, digital and print materials. The logo is central to the lovely, evocative web site the Fishman firm designed for us, offering 30 pages of visually arresting images.

The RMA rebranding did not happen overnight. 

"Our program crosses many fields of endeavor which had to be unified visually," says Deborah Shapley,  President of RMA.

"Maps are an example," Shapley explains. "We had a layer of interactive tree data on a map of our part of Washington. Fishman enlarged the map to be easier for users. He framed it in a soft, gray-blue. The new page suggests our wonderful, historic avenue even as visitors utilize twenty-first century technology." Explore our interactive tree tool today! Go to to learn more about the tree species on our grand avenue and enjoy street views.

About Gill Fishman Associates
Gill Fishman Associates ( is a leading design and branding firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its A-list of clients include the Harvard Brain Initiative, the Boston Preservation Council, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Boston. The office is located on "the other Mass Ave" - a popular street cross-cutting Cambridge and Boston. Below are sample brands the firm created for prestigious clients.
 Mr. Fishman's appreciation of elegant, treed landscape comes in part from living in a picturesque, wooded landscape in Brookline designed by Frederick Law Olmsted at the turn of the twentieth century.  
About the award
Since 1963 Graphic Design USA ( has been the news magazine for graphic designers and other creative professionals.

Friday, January 30, 2015

9 new trees will make allée

Nine trees were just planted! Look for the line of staked trees in the big lawns on the east side of Mass Ave going uphill from 30th Street to the South Africa Embassy.

An energetic Casey Trees crew planted at nearly the exact sites where the original trees were planted in 1904, forming a majestic streetscape for decades thereafter.

Casey Trees planted this "second row" for the Department of State Office of Foreign Missions, which manages the two vacant buildings there. We at Restore Mass Ave are grateful that Cliffton Seagroves and Suzanne McPartland of OFM heard our message about the importance of  "re-greening" Embassy Row by replanting the original allées wherever we can.

Jabbari Brew of Casey Trees
Two trees in the line going in.

Jim Woodworth and Deborah Shapley

But this isn't 1880. It's not even 1904. We had to decide: What species to plant here for the 21st century?

Along the curb is a row of little-leaf lindens (Tilia cordata). OFM, advised by RMA and Casey Trees, made the new second row be mostly American lindens (Tilia americana).

American linden thrives along DC streets and is the historic tree for Mass Ave. According to RMA's book A Grand Avenue Revival, American lindens were planted uniformly on both sides of Mass Ave for four rows stretching seven miles across the city, after the double rows were planted here.

The nine new trees include three red maples (Acer rubrum). Jim Woodworth of Casey Trees recommended them for variety and to compliment the unusual Mideast-style domed building behind them.

The brick Georgian mansion and domed building next door used to be the Residence and Embassy of Iran. Since 1979, when the US broke ties with that country, the State Department OFM has had custody of the properties.

OFM officials said that planting this site with large-type trees was an excellent form of "green diplomacy" for the United States.               -  Deborah Shapley

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Historical society party launches our book

      Mud-filled streets. A red line slashing across the iconic map of Pierre L'Enfant's plan for the capital.  Cloning the Champs Elysées. Sherlock Holmes....
      Guests learned the connections among these things at a reception launching our book A Grand Avenue Revival at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. December 6.
Neither rain nor downtown traffic kept history fans away.
       Deborah Shapley, author, explained why Mass Ave was planned by L'Enfant as the city's longest east-west avenue (the red-line slash graphic). She said the post-Civil War leaders of Washington copied the Champs Elysées' use of parked green space and tree rows to create a designed public thoroughfare - and to save money on the amount of muddy roadway to be paved.
        RMA's first phase, she said, had been devoted to adding trees to reform the historic allées along the two-mile Embassy Row section of Mass Ave -- which originally had seven miles of linden allées.  She thanked Casey Trees for having donated historic-type trees, that, parallel with city sidewalk trees, are regrowing the original views.
     A Grand Avenue Revival is the platform for RMA's next goal: complete landscape restoration, so future generations can enjoy the original landscape highlighting the street's famous architecture.
     But what, exactly, was that landscape?
Craig Moran, Lily Nguyen
     The answers are shown in the book, based old-photo sleuthing worthy of Sherlock Holmes!
Deborah Shapley with John Suau and Anne McDonough of HSW

Barbara J. Saffir
Norma Lombardi
Davis Lee Kennedy
     Guests included the designer of the innovative volume, Sally Murray James, of Cutting Edge Design DC, Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, introduced Ms. Shapley.  Guests included Dr. Clifford Janey, Embassy Row resident and DC Schools Superintendent under Mayor Anthony Williams. Davis Lee Kennedy, publisher of The Current, attended. Among the DC history fans was Barbara J. Saffir, author of Walking Washington, DC.
        HSW's locale at the Carnegie Library of Washington at Mass Ave and 9th Street NW, was a special venue linked to the crucial period described in the book. We offer special thanks to John Suau, Executive Director of HSW, and the staff, particularly events manager Karen Harris.
         View some of the Dec 6 presentation on our Historic Initiative Page.  Our website offers free download of A Grand Avenue Revival.  Request your free print copy on our Contact Us page.
                                                                                  Photos:  Richard Royce/RMA