Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Even before their purchase by the National Park Service in 1938, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens have been an important site for botanical study since the 19th century.

Located in marshland on the eastern shore of the Anacostia River, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens contain important collections of water plants, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. The gardens are associated with the botanical study and development of water plants as the site of early experiments in hybridization. The land that the gardens currently occupy was purchased for farmland by war veteran and civil servant W.B. Shaw following the Civil War and operated as the commercial Shaw Gardens by Shaw and his daughter, Helen Shaw Fowler, from 1882 to 1938. In 1938, the National Park Service purchased the land. Today, the nine-acre gardens include water lilies and other species of plant life in a series of irregular ponds and marshes on the Anacostia River floodplain. The site also includes the board-and-batten Administration Building, constructed in 1912, and two greenhouses, built in 1913.

Although Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are locally important today as a part of Washington's Park System, their greater significance lies in the contributions to the botanical study and development of water plants and gardens carried out under the direction of the Shaws. It remains a noted water garden under the National Park Service.

DC Inventory: March 7, 1968 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: August 25, 1978



Anacostia Avenue & Douglas Street, NE