Anacostia Park: Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens – Washington DC


Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens is situated on the banks of the Anacostia River at the north end of Anacostia Park.  It is a marsh area that includes several cultivated ponds preserving rare waterlilies and lotuses. Originally known as the Shaw Lily Garden, it was saved from destruction by dredging in the Anacostia River in the 1930s.

The park and gardens were taken under the wing of the National Park Service (NPS) as part of Anacostia Park and the Capitol Parks system and expanded with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which worked in Anacostia Park for several years in the 1930s. The CCC enrollees raised the dykes and improved the trails in the gardens.

An Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) report on CCC work around the District of Columbia says this:  “The CCC enrollees raised the dykes defining the lily pools eighteen inches (in) order to provide additional assurance that the Anacostia River would not overflow into them. Fieldwork conducted in 2004 found that the trails used to navigate through the site are mostly located on the tops of dykes, some of which might have initially resulted from CCC work at the site…. The lily gardens remain intact and in good care.”

Unfortunately, the NPS website on Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens makes no mention of the role of the CCC in their preservation and improvement.

Source notes

Civilian Conservation Corps Activities in the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, National Capital Parks-Central, Washington, DC, HABS DC-858,, accessed February 2013.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - on May 25, 2013.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

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Location Info

1550 Anacostia Avenue Northeast
Washington, D.C. 20019

Coordinates: 38.9126, -76.9418

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