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