Rose Ishbel (Isabel) Greely, FASLA
"The whole question of landscape development- streets, parks, private places- is a matter of design.
In order to create a successful whole it is necessary to think,
not so much of the individual plant,
as of its place in the whole scheme.
I think that the work of a landscape architect is interesting because he is dealing largely with living things,
that grow and change from year to year..."
Rose Greely, Nov. 12th 1934
“I never have the same request twice. It is fun to do jobs that give you a problem right from the beginning”
“Interview with Rose Greely”
Christian Science Monitor, June 1954
Rose Greely's childhood interest in wildlife led her to study agriculture at the University of Maryland She also dabbled in metal works and interior decorating, but discovered a true love for architecture and landscape architecture at the Smith College, where she met Gertrude Sawyer and other women designers.
After completing her education, Rose found many different jobs: she wrote articles for House Beautiful while working as a draftsman in the office of Fletcher Steele. When she moved to DC she was employed by architect Horace Peaslee. Rose became the first licensed female architect in DC and established her own practice.
Rose was known for her residential design and city gardens which took on an Arts and Crafts style with nuances of Spanish and Colonial Revivals. Her experience as a child and her education influenced Rose's designs to establish harmony between the interior and exterior of the home, blurring the threshold that divides landscape from architecture. She had over 500 commissions as an architect and landscape architect, which reveals the success of the practice she had built for herself.
Left: Rose as infant with Mother, Henrietta C.H. Nesmith Greely 1887
[Library of Congress]
Right: Adolphus Greely (1844-1935)
Despite Rose's “strict spatial organization” for city homes and gardens, she applied a more organic approach to country homes. She incorporated surrounding features of sites into her designs, smoothing the transition between the built environment and the wild with English Garden and Olmstedian principles in play. The Jefferson Patterson Estate is one example of her country home landscape design - her design is more defined at the perimeter of the home and moves out into the landscape with less detailed gestures.
“If the house is of a definite architectural period, the garden must have elements of the same character.”
from Joanne Seale Wilson’s “The Philosophy of Rose Greely”
1887 - Born February 18, Washington DC
- Went to National Cathedral School for Girls
1905 - Completed finishing school at Finch School, NYC & formal debut
1906-1915 - Studied the following
Agriculture at Maryland Agricultural College
Art Décor at the Art Institute of Chicago for one year
Metal work in DC for two years
Silver repousse and enameling on metal in Florence, Italy for one year
1916 - Enrolled in Cambridge School of Domestic and Landscape Architecture for Women (later part of Smith College)
1919 - Completed the landscape architecture course under Frost
1920 - Completed the architecture course under Frost
1921-1922 - Worked for Fletcher Steele
- Staff at The House Beautiful
1923 - Returned to DC, Drafted and designed for Horace W. Peaslee
1925 - First woman licensed to practice architecture in Washington DC
1926 - Opened her own firm
1623 H Street N.W. and later at 1701 I Street
1933 - Worked with Gertrude Sawyer at Jefferson Patterson Estate
1934 - Commanding Officers Quarters- Aberdeen Proving Grounds,
Maryland, Study of Planting
1935 - Her father, who lived with her, died
- Moved practice into Georgetown Home
1938 - Col. and Mrs. H.P. Le Clair, Friendship, Maryland, General Design Plan
for the Grounds
1940 - Mrs. A. Lothrop Luttrell, Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland
1941 - Mrs. C.G. Van Emon, Topographical Survey, Barnesville, Montgomery County, Maryland
1942-3, 1946, 1953-5 - Mrs. L. Corrin Strong, Washington, D.C. and Gibson Island, Maryland
1949-1951 - Mr. and Mrs. Albert Walker, Westmoreland Hills, Montgomery County, Maryland
1950 - Miss Mary Gore, “Marwood Estate,” River Road, Montgomery County,
1950-1951 - Miss Mary Gore, River Road, Potomac, Maryland, Swimming Pool
1951 - Mrs. Albert W. Walker, Westmoreland Hills, Maryland, General Design
1951-1954 - Mrs. Philip Bard, Hurstleigh, 6 Meadow Road, Baltimore County,
Maryland, Terrace and Rose Garden
1952-1958 - St. Timothy’s School, Miss Watkin’s Garden, Stevenson, Maryland
1953 - Admiral and Mrs Ralph Riggs, Rockville, Maryland
1956 - Mr. and Mrs. David Bruce, New Windsor, Carroll County, Maryland
1969 - Passed Away at her home in DC
NOTE: Greely did many other projects which are included in the link above
Rose Greely came from a military family, one of six children, her father was General Adolphus W. Greely, the Arctic explorer. Her mother was of a well- known West Coast family. Rose and her family moved frequently due to her father’s career. After her debut in 1905, the Greely family traveled for two years, visiting Europe, Central America, and Asia.
Berkeley, Ellen Perry., and Matilda McQuaid. Architecture: A Place for Women. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1989. Print.
Birnbaum, Charles A., and Robin S. Karson. Pioneers of American Landscape Design. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000. Print.
Greely, Rose. “A House the Combines Beauty and Comfort.” The House Beautiful (March 1992): 202-03. Print.
Greely, Rose. “Rose Greely Architectural Drawings and Papers 1909-1961.” Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. University of Virginia, n.d. Web.
Greely, Rose. “Correspondence with Leighey Family.” Letter to Mrs. Leighey. 19 May 1947. pag. University of Maryland, Maryland Room.
Lawson, Joanne Seale. “Remarkable Foundations: Rose Ishbel Greely, Landscape Architect.” Washington History 1st ser. 10 (1998): 46-57. Print.
“Point Farm: Rose Greely.” Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. The Maryland Department of Planning, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.
Wilson, Joanne Seale. “The Philosophy of Rose Greely, Landscape Architect.” The Journal of Preservation Technology XXXII (2001): 39-45. Print.