The Many A’s of Alice L. L. Ferguson

By Lori Arguelles, Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever stood on Mount Vernon’s portico and partaken of the pastoral panorama across the Potomac River? Have you ever wondered how such an amazing preservation effort was accomplished? It was all made possible thanks to the vision and leadership of three women from the 20th century, whose dedicated efforts have helped ensure that the vista is as remarkable today as it was when it was built nearly 250 years ago in the mid -18th century.

I invite you to come and learn more about Ann Pamela Cunningham, Alice L. L. Ferguson, and Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton, all of whom blazed new trails in historic preservation and land conservation. Stories of these remarkable women will be featured as part of Women with a View, on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 2 p.m. The event is hosted by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association at the Smith Auditorium at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and will be followed by a tour of the mansion and cocktail reception.

Every day, as Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, I have the privilege of carrying on the legacy of our truly amazing namesake and I am often struck the breadth and depth of her endeavors.  I’ve taken to referring to her abundant accomplishments as the ‘Many A’s of Alice’ which is in fact the title of the talk I will give in conjunction with the symposium on March 9th.   I hope you will join us for this event,  please visit the Women With a View website for more information and to purchase tickets.  In the meantime, here’s a little preview:

As a woman coming of age at the turn of the 20th century, Alice L. L. Ferguson lived and worked during both World Wars, The Jazz Age, the Great Depression and the New Deal that brought intellectual energy to Washington, DC.  During this time the modern woman challenged past norms finding a new voice through education, creative expression, travel, activism and independence.  Alice was an accomplished artist that trained at the Corcoran School of Art.  Her marriage to Henry G. Ferguson, a world-renowned geologist, presaged a life of adventure and travel that also involved purchasing a ’country home’—Hard Bargain Farm–in Accokeek, MD.  This avant-garde adventurer became an architect, agrarian, activist, archeologist and author, all as a result of that purchase.  Instrumental in shaping and ultimately preserving the landscape now known as the Mount Vernon viewshed, we owe much to the amazing life and legacy of Alice L. L. Ferguson.