Presidents Park preserves the cultural resources of the White House—its architecture, artifacts, landscape design, gardens and grounds, and the surrounding parklands—in ways that foster and preserve dignity and respect for the office of the presidency, while still allowing for their use. The park preserves Lafayette Park as open public space in the foreground of the White House, as a setting for passive activities (reflecting, observing, making a personal connection with the presidency), First Amendment activities within legal limitations, and as a support area for presidential inaugural activities.
President’s Park reflects the growth of the presidency, as well as the evolving social and cultural experiences of our nation. The park is the oldest federal reservation in the nation, and it is a nationally significant historic landscape that continues to reflect the design principles of Pierre Charles L’Enfant in 1791, Andrew Jackson Downing in 1851, and the Olmsted brothers in the 1930s—design principles that have withstood the test of time. President’s Park is integral to the historic layout of the city, which was initially designed to physically represent the functional relationships of the three branches of our government. Memorials that have been incorporated into the historic landscape design commemorate significant events and individuals in the nation’s history. The White House grounds contain commemorative plantings by presidents and first ladiesPresident’s Park, as a unit of the National Park Service since 1933, is responsible for the park areas surrounding the White House, including the Ellipse, Sherman Park, Lafayette Park, and the 1st Division Memorial Park.
With the White House as a back drop, President’s Park over time has played host to suffragettes, freedom riders, anti-war protestors, Easter egg rollers, and participants of festivities surrounding the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.