The Cathedral Grounds

The 59 acres surrounding the Washington National Cathedral are a rich landscape tapestry. The grounds, know as the Cathedral Close, consist of cultivated gardens (the Bishop’s Garden), 5 acres of oak and beech forest (the Olmsted Woods), a terraced outdoor amphitheater, athletic fields, and the landscaped grounds of the institutions and schools.

The original plan of the Cathedral Close was developed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. from 1907-1927 – at the time of the building of the Cathedral apse and the excavation of the nave of the Cathedral. Olmsted, in conjunction with the Cathedral architects, designed the roads, sited the buildings, laid out the Bishop's Garden, and solved most of the design problems of the site.

Olmsted's design has endured because its main features continue to meet the aspirations and needs of a Gothic-style Cathedral. Later landscape designers included All Hallows Guild member Florence Brown Bratenahl (wife of the Cathedral's first Dean). Mrs. Bratenahl made important contributions to the landscape of the Close in the form of additions and refinements to the Olmsted plan. These include the Pilgrim Steps, entrances to the Bishop's Garden, the George Washington statue and plaza at the foot of the Pilgrim Steps, the North Cloister Garth, and the West Front court and oak grove.

Help us Keep the
Gardens Growing

Partner with us to ensure that the 59 acres of gardens and grounds surrounding Washington National Cathedral continue to be a haven of peace and refreshment in the midst of the Nation’s Capital.