In 1971, the Russian government tried to buy the property. That outraged horticultural philanthropist Enid Annenberg Haupt. To keep the property in American hands and open to the public, she bought it and gave more than $5 million in today’s dollars in a trust to do exactly that. The American Horticultural Society is not in financial trouble, and the American Horticultural Society board is following bad advice. Selling would violate the Haupt trust. Nothing should be done without an independent review of the trust and the board’s decision-making. What’s the rush? Who behind the scenes this time wants that property? And what do they want to do with it?
River Farm is enjoyed by thousands of Washingtonians. I was president of the nearby Wellington Heights Civic Association in the 1970s and can attest that it has been a valued place for kids and families to enjoy for decades. My children and I are deeply indebted to Haupt’s wisdom and generosity. To this native Virginian and longtime Alexandrian, the hurried, secretive decision suggests something is wrong. D.C. and Virginia officials need to look into this.
Robert H. Dugger, Alexandria