Mapping Cultural Philanthropy

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Enid A. Haupt Garden

The Enid A. Haupt Garden was endowed by and planned with the advice of the late publishing heiress Enid Annenberg Haupt. The 4.2-acre greenspace is emblematic of her engaged and long-standing philanthropic dedication to horticultural causes and has become a beloved natural fixture on the National Mall landscape.

I believe also that in giving, you must endow. Particularly if you give money for something you believe in [that] perhaps isn't [the organization’s] most important idea. But if it’s a sound idea, and I like it, I’ll fight for it.

Enid A. Haupt

Enid Haupt was born Enid Annenberg in Chicago on May 13, 1906, the fifth daughter of Sadie and Moses L. Annenberg.Enid Nemy, “Enid A. Haupt, Philanthropist, Dies at 99,” New York Times, October 27, 2005, Moses Annenberg had emigrated as a young boy from Germany to Chicago at the end of the nineteenth century, and his career in William Randolph Hearst’s burgeoning publishing empire was on the rise when she was born. Five months after Enid’s birth, Moses moved his growing family to Milwaukee, where he would make both his reputation and fortune.Christopher Ogden, Legacy: A Biography of Moses and Walter Annenberg (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999), 55. Though the eight Annenberg children would inherit their father’s fortune and tenacity, it was their mother who would instill in Enid and her siblings a sense of philanthropic responsibility. Sadie Annenberg felt that, because of their hard-earned wealth, the family had a duty to help others who were less fortunate.Ogden, Legacy, 287.

Enid attended the German-English Academy, “Milwaukee’s answer to Groton or Exeter,” and when the family moved to Long Island in 1920 to accommodate Moses’s new partnership with Hearst, Enid was sent to Mount Ida Seminary, a girls’ finishing school in Newton, Massachusetts.Ogden, Legacy, 69.

In May 1925, Enid married Norman E. Bensinger,“Society: Bensinger—Annenberg,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 18, 1925, 7. who was twenty years her senior and operated the infamous Bensinger’s billiard room in Chicago.“Norman Bensinger Dead at 79; Owned ‘Oldest’ Billiard Parlor,” New York Times, April 13, 1967, 43. Later, she would only remark that the marriage, “to which I never refer,” simply “wasn't the answer.”Nemy, “A Life of Editing, Collecting Art and Eating Sandwiches in a Rolls-Royce,” New York Times, November 11, 1970, 78. The marriage ended in 1935, and Enid wed Ira Haupt (1889–1963) a year later;“Sisters Married in Double Wedding,” New York Times, August 12, 1936, 16. this marriage lasted until Ira’s death in 1963. Enid’s second marriage was pivotal in launching her later philanthropy, introducing her to gardening and horticulture.

She began gardening in earnest early on in her second marriage, after urging her husband to find better-paying employment for his underpaid gardeners, which resulted in her being “the only gardener on the place.”Janny Scott, “Enid Haupt: A Rewarding Lifetime Spent Cultivating the Public’s Garden,” Los Angeles Times, August 15, 1993, Ira Haupt also cultivated her lifelong love of orchids, memorialized in the cultivar Cymbidium Enid Haupt. During their engagement, Haupt gave Enid a stem of cymbidium orchids (rare in the United States at the time), and she decided she wanted to grow them herself. She later recalled: “‘You said I could have anything I wanted for a [wedding] present. If you get me 13 single [cymbidium orchid] plants, I’ll be very happy.’ He said, ‘That's no present!’ I said, ‘For me, this will be the world.’”Scott, “Enid Haupt.”

Haupt and Johnson
Enid A. Haupt and Lady Bird Johnson in the Haupt Garden, 1988. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image #88-8669-12.

Seventeen Magazine

In 1953, Enid Haupt became editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine, founded by her brother Walter Annenberg (1908–2002) in 1944.Joe Holley, “Enid A. Haupt Dies at 99; Philanthropist Donated Millions for Green Spaces,” Washington Post, October 29, 2005, “Everyone must have been laughing to high heaven about my brother’s nepotism, and I vowed I would not embarrass myself or him,” she later said.Ogden, Legacy, 289. A few years of her leadership more than tripled advertising revenues to $18 million and doubled circulation to two million.Ogden, Legacy, 289. She served as editor and publisher until 1970, transforming the magazine into a sophisticated, modern publication for adolescent women that addressed wide-ranging issues including sexuality, dating, and mental health.Ogden, Legacy, 290. Her elegance and sophistication outside the office was also noteworthy, and she was inducted as a permanent member of the Fashion Hall of Fame.Nemy, “A Life.”

Horticultural Philanthropy

By the time of her death in 2005 at age 99, Enid Haupt had donated more than $140 million to philanthropic causes during the previous twenty-five years alone.Nemy, “Enid A. Haupt.” She and Ira Haupt had amassed an impressive art collection, and Enid gifted works valued at $13 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a Vuillard painting valued at $3.5 million to the National Gallery of Art. In 1983, in order to fund an ambulatory care center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, she sold fifteen French Impressionist paintings, including works by Gauguin, Cézanne, Renoir, and Van Gogh, to her brother, Walter H. Annenberg.Nemy, “Enid A. Haupt.” See also “Fashions in Living: Two Masterful Ways to Live with Art and Nature,” Vogue 161, no. 5 (1973): 182–85.

Despite this interest in art, her philanthropic donations largely supported her favorite pastime, gardening. Her contributions earned her the laudatory epithets, “fairy godmother of American horticulture” and the “patron saint of public gardens,””Scott, “Enid Haupt.” as well as the American Horticultural Society’s highest award for “horticultural achievement,” the Liberty Hyde Bailey Medal, in 1994.American Horticulturist 73, no. 9 (1994), 3. The profile accompanying her recognition attributes Haupt’s philanthropy to “a desire to find beauty, restore it to its ultimate level of excellence, and preserve it for future generations.”American Horticulturist 73, no. 9 (1994), 3. At age 87, Haupt reflected upon the importance of public gardens: “[Gardens provide] for people beauty they don’t have in their lives. People are refreshed, their minds are cleared when they take a walk in a garden. They’re seeing something that they don’t have, that they’ve heard about, that’s beautiful. It’s also a marvelous escape from reality.”Scott, “Enid Haupt.”

Haupt made her first major philanthropic gifts shortly after taking over Seventeen. In 1959, she funded a greenhouse-playground (officially titled the Enid A. Haupt Glass Garden but quickly nicknamed the Garden of Enid) for the young patients at New York University’s Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City, which remained one of her favorite contributions. She wanted, in her words, “to make these children a world” through the great benefit of public gardens.Scott, “Enid Haupt.”

Her other horticultural philanthropy included gifts to causes as varied as the cultivation and display of orchids at Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny and the establishment of Lady Bird Johnson’s National Wildflower Research Center in Austin, Texas. A long-time member of the American Horticultural Society, in 1973 she purchased River Farm, a George Washington estate in Alexandria, Virginia, slated to become a summer retreat for Soviet diplomats, and gifted it to the AHS as their new headquarters with the stipulation that it be open to the public.“Enid A. Haupt Garden,” Smithsonian Gardens, accessed June 28, 2018,

Haupt Conservatory
New York Botanical Garden, Haupt Conservatory, April 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/King of Hearts.

Perhaps her best-remembered gifts were to the New York Botanical Garden, which totaled $34 million in her lifetime, including $5 million to restore the elaborate Victorian glass greenhouse, now known as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, home to the NYBG’s permanent and special exhibitions.“Enid A. Haupt Garden,” Smithsonian Gardens. In 1989, she donated $1.5 million for the maintenance of the medieval gardens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters in New York City.Nadine Brozan, “Haupt’s Latest Gift to the Met: $1.5 Million for the Cloisters,” New York Times, May 10, 1989, B7.

Although generous in her philanthropy, Enid Haupt was also a notoriously exacting donor who was conscientious and protective of how her money was used. Various Smithsonian memoranda that document Enid Haupt’s gift of her namesake garden characterize her as a dedicated but mercurial philanthropist. They candidly describe her as “one of the most intelligent, forthright, and competent business persons” and “extremely generous if she is in favor,” but “extremely difficult to work with.”Smithsonian Institution Archives, accession 90-135, Smithsonian Institution, Office of Facilities Services, Director’s Files.

The Enid A. Haupt Garden

Moving mature saucer magnolias into the Haupt Garden, 1985. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image #85-17668-8A.

By 1987, when the Enid A. Haupt Garden officially opened in the South Yard of the Smithsonian Castle, the space had served myriad purposes for nearly a century and a half: as a bison grazing ground, astronomical observatory, taxidermy studio (for the Natural History Museum), and aircraft and rocket showcase (before the Air and Space Museum).EHT Traceries Inc., “South Mall Campus: Cultural Landscape Report,” June 2015, 48–51, More recently, the South Yard had been a Victorian Garden created for the Smithsonian’s bicentennial exhibitions in 1976, and it quickly became a treasured greenspace. Plans in the early 1980s for the new Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art on either side of the Smithsonian Castle were specifically designed to be ninety-six percent underground to preserve the Victorian Garden.EHT Traceries Inc., “South Mall Campus,” 112–113. However, then–Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley wanted to unify the new museums of the so-called Smithsonian Quadrangle by extending the Victorian Garden to embrace the new, above-ground architecture, in effect creating an institutional “front yard.”Ellen Posner and Jack Flam, “Architecture: Smithsonian Goes Underground . . . With Museums for African and Asian Art,” Wall Street Journal, October 6, 1987, 32. In 1982, Ripley invited Enid Haupt to visit the site, intending to ask her support for a Zen garden attached to the Sackler Gallery. After viewing the site and plans, she informed him: “I’m only interested in financing the whole thing. The entire garden. How much do you think it will cost?”Edwards Park and Jean-Paul Carlhian, A New View from the Castle, (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987), 56.

In March 1983, she signed a pledge of $3 million “for the design and implementation of a garden on the site of the Quadrangle Project,” to be “continually known as the Enid A. Haupt Garden.”Smithsonian Institution Archives, accession 90-135. She requested that only mature, high-quality plants be used so that she could see the garden “before I die” and required regular updates on its progress, inquiring after and advising on details as minute as plant cultivars and mulch quantity.Smithsonian Institution Archives, accession 90-135; Smithsonian Institution Archives, accession 03-029, Smithsonian Productions, Production Records. The actual landscape design of the garden was the collaborative effort of architect Jean-Paul Carlhian, principal in the Boston firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott; Lester Collins, a landscape architect from Millbrook, New York; Sasaki Associates Inc. of Watertown, Massachusetts; and James R. Buckler, founding director of the Smithsonian’s Office of Horticulture.

Enid A. Haupt, Jean-Paul Carlhian, and James R. Buckler tour the gardens at the opening dedication ceremony, May 21, 1987. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image #87-7361-20.

The official opening of the Enid A. Haupt Garden occurred on May 21, 1987, months before the formal opening of the new museums in September, per Haupt’s request. Henry Mitchell of the Washington Post likened the new garden to “a four-acre paradise . . . showing the power of good gardens to transform not only man but architecture, too.”Henry Mitchell, “The Smithsonian’s Garden Party,” Washington Post, May 22, 1987, B1. The redesigned Victorian Garden, measuring 144 by 66 feet and comprised of symmetrically patterned flower beds, saucer magnolia trees, brick walkways, and historical cast iron garden benches from the Smithsonian Gardens’ garden furniture collection, had axial walkways leading to two new thematic gardens flanking the new museum pavilions. To the west is the Moongate Garden, inspired by the Ming Dynasty Temple of Heaven Garden in Beijing, China, complementing the Asian collections of the Sackler Gallery. To the east is the Fountain Garden, fashioned in part after the Court of Lions at the Moorish Alhambra in Córdoba, Spain, and incorporating design elements of the architecture of North Africa.


Enid Haupt and the Smithsonian Institution intended the South Yard garden to serve as “a scholarly retreat for contemplation, an inviting pleasure garden, an educational expression of cultural and historic horticulture reflecting its contingent museums, and an extensive exhibition of rare and unusual plants and garden furnishings.”Smithsonian Institution Archives, accession 90-135. This intention conforms to the larger mission of what is now known as the Smithsonian Gardens (formerly the Office of Horticulture), which “strives to engage, inform, and inspire” by “extend[ing] the Smithsonian’s museum experience in a public garden setting.”“About Smithsonian Gardens,” Smithsonian Gardens, accessed June 27, 2018,

View of Quadrangle from top Forrestal Building, 1987. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image #87-7964-12.

Recognizing the ongoing maintenance costs of such a garden, in 1993, Enid Haupt established a $3 million endowment for maintenance of the garden in perpetuity along with a horticultural fellowship in her name.Archive of American Gardens, “Enid A. Haupt Endows Smithsonian Garden,” Smithsonian Partnership Report (Summer 1993). The endowment has allowed the garden, under the purview of the Smithsonian Castle alone, a degree of freedom in seasonal and long-term programming different from the other Smithsonian gardens, which are typically beholden thematically to a specific museum. Reflecting on her horticultural philanthropy, Enid Haupt remarked: “I believe also that in giving, you must endow. Particularly if you give money for something you believe in [that] perhaps isn't [the organization’s] most important idea. But if it’s a sound idea, and I like it, I’ll fight for it.”Scott, “Enid Haupt.”

Future of the Garden

The ongoing maintenance of the Enid A. Haupt Garden has been tested in recent years, as the Smithsonian Institution considers renovations of the South Mall Campus—encompassing the Quadrangle, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum—to improve connectivity, infrastructure, and security. The original plan, proposed by the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group in 2014, was intended in part to make the museum entrance pavilions more enticing from the National Mall but generated public and regulatory outcry for failing to preserve the character of the Haupt Garden. A subsequent cultural landscape report concluded that the Haupt Garden was but the latest in a long series of changes to the area and consequently did not necessarily meet the standards for historical preservation.EHT Traceries Inc., “South Mall Campus,” 167. However, the most recent plan, awaiting approval from the National Capital Planning Commission as of the summer of 2018, retains more of the Enid A. Haupt Garden than the original 2014 plan.Michael Neibauer, “Castle Reborn: Here’s the Preferred Plan for the Smithsonian’s $2B South Mall Campus Overhaul,” Washington Business Journal, December 21, 2017,

Profile by May Wang, 2018 summer intern