One sunny day must have steered my car down a random Rockville street, swooping up a hill right into the parking lot of Glenview Mansion. The tennis courts and open grassy areas drew my attention as a place to relax outdoors and then I found myself passing under weathered stone archways into a series of terraced gardens surrounding a historic mansion. To find such garden luxury moments away from the congested shopping corridor of 355 is such a pleasant contrast. The integration of public neighborhood park and historic formal gardens is seamless, and each is fully enhanced by the juxtaposition to the other.
Boxwood hedges with floral edging accentuate the front view of the house and also have a strong presence in the garden, their green masses pushing up against the not-quite-crumbling walls. There is so much detail in the stonework from the inset benches along the walls, the stately columns and staircases separating terraces, to the lions engraved into the pillars of the archway. The full effect of the terraced gardens can be witnessed best from behind the fountain, looking back up at the side of the house and the ornate steps between levels. This same location offers views of the valley rolling out below that surely gave the mansion its descriptive name.
Originally the property was farmland but eventually became the summer home of a wealthy DC family and was redeveloped in 1926 into a luxury country estate designed for entertaining. The farmhouse was converted into a Neoclassical mansion and Italian Renaissance style terraced gardens were built into the hillside alongside the residence. After the death of his wife the wealthy owner sold most the property to developers but the land around the home was eventually purchased by the City of Rockville and turned into a civic center and public park. It is refreshing in this age of real-estate madness that this large swath of land has been saved from development and preserves a glimpse of when Rockville was a wealthy vacation destination in the countryside.
Final Rating: I love the fact that you can drive moments away from the madness of Rockville Pike and be transported into another time by this magical place. The fact that this beautifully landscaped property, once the playground of the upperclass, is now a public park for anyone to come and enjoy for free makes it all the more rewarding. The cherry blossom trees that line the curved drive up to the mansion make quite a statement in the spring, but the shady terraced gardens and extensive stonework throughout give Glenview its regal character. There is something about the way the formal gardens are tucked away on the side of the mansion that give them a secretive quality and make you feel like you’ve discovered a hidden spot, outside of time. THREE BLOOMS