In the mid-1950s, development threatened to destroy the beautiful landscape along the Maryland shore of the Potomac River. Instead of enjoying the same view that George Washington did more than two hundred years ago, visitors to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate would have seen an oil tank farm, a sewage treatment plant, or housing developments.
Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton of Ohio, a member of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, sprang into action. She purchased a 500-acre farm directly across the Potomac from Mount Vernon and next to the Moyaone Reserve, an environmentally conscious planned community. Bolton donated her farm for the creation of the Accokeek Foundation and, with a coalition of organizations that included the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Moyaone Association, and Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, launched an ambitious program to protect six-miles of shoreline. This large-scale landscape conservation effort led to the creation of Piscataway Park, the first national park established to “preserve historic vistas.”
Today, the Accokeek Foundation partners with the National Park Service to provide programs and services to enhance the park visitor experience and steward 200 acres of Piscataway Park which covers, in total, approximately 5,000 acres, from Piscataway Creek to Marshall Hall on the Potomac River. An effort that began out of a desire to “preserve the view,” in the end has preserved much more. The full conservation area protects a wealth of environmental, cultural, and historic resources, from wetlands to farms to nationally significant historic sites.
By honoring the park’s river location, the Piscataway people, and the sacredness of this land, the Accokeek Foundation shares with people and communities through nature, agriculture, cultural history, and foodways, the value that this land and soil hold, including evolving stories about different communities’ reliance on it for sustenance. Park visitors experience the interconnectedness of all life as they come to know the historical and cultural significance and regenerative potential of the indigenous landscape that is Piscataway Park.
The park is open daily to visitors who enjoy a quiet landscape for recreation and reflection. Annually, thousands of school children visit for farm-based education, learning about environmental stewardship through a historical lens. With support from donors and members, the Accokeek Foundation provides a natural space for all to enjoy, for generations to come.
Frances Payne Bolton
When development threatened the Maryland shore of the Potomac River, Congresswoman Bolton, the Mount Vernon Ladies Vice Regent from Ohio, sprang into action and purchased the land that would one day be Piscataway Park.
How We Work with Others
We honor our river location, the Piscataway people, and the sacredness of this land.
We stand against injustice and systemic racism and are committed to hearing truths that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color share.
We actively listen to others’ voices so we can understand, gain knowledge, and broaden our perspectives.
We respect our planet and its resources and work to restore and protect them.
We work cooperatively with our partners to provide safe and just access to public lands.
How We Work Together
We strive for a transparent, positive, and equitable organizational culture where board, staff, volunteers, collaborators, and the community feel comfortable expressing themselves.
We collaborate internally with trust, respect, passion, and dedication to a just world and a healthy planet.
We intentionally seek to diversify our staff and board to assure we represent the communities we seek to serve.
Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton purchases a 485-acre farm across the Potomac from Mount Vernon to save it from development as an oil tank farm.
The Accokeek Foundation is formed with Mrs. Bolton serving as its first president.
The National Colonial Farm is established as a living demonstration of 18th century Tidewater farming and husbandry.
Piscataway Park is dedicated in a ceremony on Washington's birthday.
An 18th-century tobacco barn is relocated and built on the National Colonial Farm.
Reconstruction begins on the Laurel Branch house, which was built circa 1770, then moved to the National Colonial Farm to preserve its architectural history.
New "green" Education Center opens to host school tours, educational programming, and meetings.