National Register of Historic Places

Featured National Park:
Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove On The Potomac (in Lady Bird Johnson Park)
Featured Historic Site
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
Visit a National Park
National Park Service Press Release on the passing of Lady Bird Johnson
National Register Home

"Lady Bird" Johnson

National Register Remembers Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady who “Beautified” America

Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady and wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, passed away at the age of 94 on July 11, 2007. Through her work in supporting new National Parks and in leading her campaign to “Beautify America” she left an abiding legacy in the history of the American Republic, the preservation field, and the Department of the Interior.

[photo] Lady Bird Johnson and link to bigger image
"Lady Bird" Johnson was a good friend to the National Park Service
Photo courtesy of National Park Service

In "With Heritage So Rich", the document that lead to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Lady Bird Johnson wrote "...the truth [is] that the buildings which express our national heritage are not simply interesting. They give a sense of continuity and of heightened reality to our thinking about the whole meaning of the American past."

President Bush remarked “Laura and I mourn the passing of our good friend, and a warm and gracious woman, Lady Bird Johnson.” Former Presidents and First Ladies, as well as a broad spectrum of politicians, government officials, and American citizens from all walks of life echoed these sentiments. Speaking on July 12, 2007, at the presentation of the Preserve America Grants, First Lady Laura Bush, who shares with her predecessor being a First Lady from Texas and an abiding interest in historic preservation, said “Yesterday, our country lost one of its most dedicated advocates for natural and historic preservation: Lady Bird Johnson. As we remember her love of America's environment and history, it's appropriate that we're meeting here in the Cannon Office Building -- where her husband spent his early days in politics. And we're here today to talk about what each of us can do to build on their legacy of preservation.” During her life Mrs. Johnson received honors from other leaders; President Gerald Ford presented her with the Medal of Freedom in 1977 and she received the Congressional Gold Medal from President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

[photo] Lady Bird Johnson and Stewart Udall
Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall with Lady Bird Johnson on the Snake River in 1964
Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Born in Karnack, Texas to Thomas Jefferson Taylor II and Minnie Lee Pattillo in 1912, her birth name of “Claudia” was forever replaced by the nickname Lady Bird given her by Alice Tittle, her African American nursemaid. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism in 1934, she met and wed a young Congressional aide named Lyndon Baines Johnson. Two daughters were born to the union, Lynda and Luci. The family became nationally known to the American public when Lyndon Johnson became President after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Having seen her husband rise from U.S. Congressman to Senator to Vice-President, and then to President, Lady Bird was accustomed to the world of politics, and was able to influence legislation and policy that met her goals and those of others desiring to beautify America. Her “Keep America Beautiful, Inc.” was originally founded in 1953, and Lady Bird's tireless advocacy for the organization throughout the 1960s brought national attention to the organization's mission to bring natural beauty to America's public spaces. As First Lady, she was instrumental in convening the White House Conference on Natural Beauty in 1965.

During the Johnson Administration (1963-1969), 3.6 million acres of land were added to the National Park System. Included in this acquisition were Redwood National Park, Fire Island National Seashore, and the North Cascades National Park. Other conservation and environmental accomplishments of his administration included the approval of the Wilderness Act and the establishment of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

[photo] Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove in Lady Bird Johnson Park
Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove in Lady Bird Johnson Park
Photo courtesy of National Park Service

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac, designed by the prominent Virginia landscape architect Meade Palmer, in collaboration with the architectural and engineering firm of Mills and Petticord and sculptor Harold Vogel, is one example of the implementation of Lady Bird’s vision. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 14, 1998, the grove is located in Lady Bird Johnson Park on Columbia Island, opposite Arlington National Cemetery. The park was named for Mrs. Johnson in recognition of her contributions toward the Beautification of America through her establishment of the Committee for the Beautification of the National Capital. This was a favorite view of the Johnsons during the many occasions they drove on the George Washington Memorial Parkway returning to Washington D.C. The LBJ Grove has been recognized nationally with design awards by the American Association of Nurserymen and the American Contractors Association, while Meade Palmer was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Medal in 1991, ASLA’s highest professional honor, in recognition of his accomplishments. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac was authorized by Congress in 1973 in order to establish an official Presidential memorial to the late President, who died that year.
National Register file on the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove Park

The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park contains 2 properties associated with Lyndon B. Johnson, his boyhood home and a reconstruction of his birthplace farmhouse on the original site. In December 1972, President and Mrs. Johnson gave the LBJ Ranch house and surrounding property to the people of the United States as a National Historic Site. Mrs. Johnson continued to live at the Ranch until her passing.
National Register file on the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

[photo] Lady Bird Johnson and link to bigger image
Lyndon Baines and Lady Bird Johnson
Photo courtesy of National Park Service

People from the National Park Service have fond memories of Lady Bird Johnson. Historian Carolyn Pitts, retired from the National Historic Landmarks Program, remembers when Lady Bird used to sit on the meetings of the National Park System Advisory Board in the early days of the program. “She would have lunch at the Department of Interior cafeteria with the staff, instead of a private dining room,” recalled Pitts. “She asked me where the younger people on the staff ate their lunch, and I pointed them out at a table, and she went over and wanted to know what each of them did…she was a very sharp person with no airs.” Perhaps the best memorial to Lady Bird Johnson came from current National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar, who said “The National Park Service family extends its deepest condolences to the family of Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson’s strength and graciousness, and her contribution to conservation in this country will be missed by all. Our hearts go out to her family but we thank them for sharing her with us for so long.”