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Ruth Havey

Havey, Ruth, 1899-1980

Color photograph of Ruth Havey, ca. 1923, provided to Dumbarton Oaks by Ruth Havey's family members after 1980.One of seven children, Ruth Mildred Havey was born in Massachusetts in 1899. She attended school at Smith College and the Cambridge School of Domestic Architecture and Landscape Architecture, which was the first school in the country to provide women graduate training in the profession. She earned a certificate in Architecture in 1923 and a Masters of Architecture in 1934. Although Havey opened her own landscape architecture firm in New York in 1935, she is best known today for her contributions to the work of Beatrix Farrand at Dumbarton Oaks.

Havey began working in Beatrix Farrand’s New York office in 1928. She was one of three women there who helped with the Dumbarton Oaks project in the early years, including Anne Baker and Margaret H. Bailie. By 1933 Havey was the sole contributor to the project. She earned the trust of both Beatrix Farrand and Mildred Bliss through the execution of her first solo project at Dumbarton Oaks—the Green Garden inscription to Beatrix Farrand.

Havey continued work at Dumbarton Oaks even after the Blisses gifted the garden to Harvard University in 1940. Jointly employed by both Mildred Bliss and Harvard University, Havey provided a continuous design influence after Beatrix Farrand gradually ceded control of the gardens to Robert Patterson and later consultants. At the request of Mildred Bliss, Havey oversaw several projects that reimagined and updated previous Beatrix Farrand designs, integrating her own Rococo sensibilities. Her contributions to the garden include the Arbor Terrace parterre, the Provençal Fountain in the Ellipse, and the Pebble Garden.

Color photograph of Ruth Havey, ca. 1980, provided to Dumbarton Oaks by Ruth Havey's family members after 1980.Outside of Dumbarton Oaks, Ruth Havey was a member of the Association of Women in Architecture and the American Society of Landscape Architects. She took commissions out of her New York office, specializing in projects that integrated building architecture and garden landscape. However, Dumbarton Oaks was her longest-running commission, and she considered the Pebble Garden to be her masterpiece. Havey completed her last major project for Dumbarton Oaks in 1967, and when Mildred Bliss died in 1969, she resigned her post. Ruth Havey died in 1980.



Carder, James N. “Understanding the Need for Change: The Re-Design of the Ellipse.” DO Conversations. Last modified April 13, 2012.

Carder, James N. “Understanding the Need for Change: The Re-Design of the Tennis Court / Pebble Garden.” DO Conversations. Last modified April 20, 2012.

“Ruth Mildred Havey.” The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Last modified 2012.

Smith, Donald E. Interview by Barbara Harrelson and David Keil. Typed transcript. Dumbarton Oaks Oral History Project. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., August 6, 1992.