For nearly 70 years, the land that is now Oxon Cove Park, was a hospital farm. St. Elizabeths Hospital bought the property in 1891 to produce food for its ever-growing number of patients. The hospital was founded in 1855 to care for the mentally ill people of Washington, D.C. and the U.S. military.
St. Elizabeths was a bold project for its time. It was originally designed to hold 250 patients in the world's most modern hospital for the mentally ill. But, before the first building was completed, the outbreak of the Civil War forced the government to use much of the new hospital for wounded soldiers.
Dr. William Godding, superintendent of St. Elizabeths, established Godding Croft for patients with less severe disabilities to receive therapy from farm work. In turn, these patients produced food for the main institution at St. Elizabeths.
FYI: "Croft" is a Scottish term for a small farm.