Donor of Popular Garden Site Passes

image001 Dr. Belinda Crompton Straight died peacefully on December 5, 2015, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Dr. Straight was a psychiatrist in Washington, D.C. for 55 years until 2007. In 1970, she and her former husband, Michael Straight, donated their house and property to the Fairfax County Park Authority. That land is now Green Spring Gardens.

“We’re saddened that she has passed, but very grateful for her enduring legacy to the residents of the County of Fairfax and beyond,” said Debbie Waugh, Green Spring’s Historic House Coordinator. Waugh said the Straight’s donation put Green Spring on the map historically because of the architect and designer they used at their home, because “it means the site is able to interpret the historical significance of the house and the landscape.”

The Historic House was the Straight’s family home. They raised five children there.  The following comments by Debbie Waugh were delivered at a memorial service for Dr. Straight.

Dr. Belinda Straight created an enduring legacy for the residents of Fairfax County and beyond. In 1970, she and her husband, Michael, jointly gifted their family home, Green Spring Farm in Alexandria, to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Their donation of 16 acres of land and the 1784 historic home was made on condition that the property be preserved for the benefit of the community. And so, Belinda’s Green Spring Farm became today’s Green Spring Gardens, a beautiful public garden, horticulture center and historic site enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.

When Belinda and Michael came to Green Spring Farm in 1942, the house had been standing for 158 years and already had an interesting history. But Michael and Belinda proceeded to write a whole new chapter that was to be pivotal. As soon as they arrived, they brought in two American masters of design – Colonial Revival architect Walter Macomber and famed landscape designer Beatrix Farrand – to redesign their house and gardens. As a result, Historic Green Spring is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. A pivotal chapter indeed.

To commemorate this unique claim to historical significance, a Historical Highway Marker was dedicated at Green Spring on June 12, 2010. That day we were honored to have Belinda in attendance and delighted when she chose to speak to the audience about her former home.

At marker dedication on June 12, 2010: Green Spring Gardens Site Manager Mary Olien, Dr. Belinda Straight, her son Michael Straight, Jr., and his wife, Audrey

At marker dedication on June 12, 2010: Green Spring Gardens Site Manager Mary Olien, Dr. Belinda Straight, her son Michael Straight, Jr., and his wife, Audrey

We know that Belinda was a generous and gracious hostess when she lived at Green Spring, opening her home to many distinguished guests as well as friends and neighbors in the community. Today, we uphold her tradition of hospitality by welcoming visitors to Green Spring Gardens and the Historic House year-round.

Her generous gift is now considered a treasure in our community that finds its way into the hearts of everyone who visits; it’s a sanctuary for quiet contemplation and enjoyment, it’s a resource for adults and children to discover nature and gardening, and it’s a historic home of grace and beauty where guests learn about local history and hear stories of the lives of its many former residents. Belinda was a woman ahead of her time, and she led a remarkable life of personal and professional achievement. At Green Spring, we will continue to enjoy sharing her story with our guests.

The staff and volunteers at Green Spring Gardens and all of our visitors are deeply grateful to Belinda for providing that all-important chapter in our story and a legacy that continues to enrich our lives.

 

Debbie Waugh is the Historic House Coordinator at Green Spring Gardens.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 11 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2008. Another Park Bond Referendum will be held in November 2012. Today, the Park Authority has 420 parks on approximately 23,168 acres of land. We offer 371 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park System is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: o Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist. o Eight golf courses including Laurel Hill, our newest, upscale course and clubhouse located in Southern Fairfax County o Five nature and visitor centers. Also seven Off-Leash Dog Activity areas o Several lakes including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax o The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter o Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel o An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter o Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel o Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent o A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly o A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale o Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community o Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center o Provides 274 athletic fields, including 30 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 500 school athletic fields PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: • A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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