Josiah Henson Historic Park

Honoring a Man of Achievement

Bethesda, MD

Client

The Maryland - National Capital Parks & Planning Commission, Montgomery Parks (M-NCPPC)

Team

Ziger|Snead Architects, A. Morton Thomas, Proun Design

Cost

$4.5 Million

Services

Park design, Historic preservation, Urban tree preservation, Forest conservation/mitigation and permitting, Wayfinding/interpretation

Contextual analysis Sketch plan of Josiah Henson Park

The Josiah Henson Historic Park is a 3.34-acre park that honors the life of the enslaved man who inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Once part of the Riley Plantation, the Riley/Bolton House, is the historic centerpiece of the site. The log kitchen, built-in 1850, is the “cabin” in which Uncle Tom was said to reside. M-NCPPC’s goal for the project was to provide a respectful and functional park that tells the story of Reverend Josiah Henson’s resilience and perseverance.

Josiah Henson master plan

Balancing Goals

The design team of architects, engineers, and exhibit designers worked closely with Floura Teeter to create a landscape of restraint – striking a balance between telling the important story of the site as it may have been during Henson’s life and working around ongoing archaeological digs.

Riley Bolton House

Floura Teeter provided tree assessment, protection, and forest conservation work for the project which included preserving two County Champion trees. The landscape design minimized grading to carefully incorporate the trees and to safeguard additional unfound artifacts.

Stormwater management plantings
Welcome sign at Old Georgetown Road

I visited the museum with my two daughters, and I just cannot comment enough on how important the landscape design was as part of the whole experience. The landscape was the connector between the two buildings but also an important relief from the purposely intense experiences found inside. Loved sitting on the log benches and looking over the beautiful landscape that was also surprisingly secluded from the busy street.

Miharu Morimoto AIA, Senior Associate, Ziger|Snead Architects

Project Team