Theodore Roosevelt Island is the site of Roosevelt Memorial Plaza. The landscape is designed as a natural park, north of Columbia Island. The two landmarks are connected via a bridge, as well as a paved trail. The island is flanked by Little Island on the southern tip, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on the eastern shore.
The history of the island dates back to the Nacotchtank Indian relocation to the island in 1668. This is also how the island earned one of its names, 'Anacostine', in 1682. The island was then owned by Captain Randolph Brandt. His daughter Margaret Hammersley inherited the property upon his death in 1699.
The island changed ownership in 1724, via the purchase deal in favor of George Mason. His son John Mason, inherited the property in 1792 and worked extensively on the landscape till 1833. He constructed a mansion and developed elaborate gardens around the central structure during the early 19th century.
However, during the American Civil War, a causeway stagnated the water in the region, forcing the Masons to leave the island in 1831. Between 1913 and 1931, then known as Mason's Island, the area was owned by the Washington Gas Light Company.
Sadly, the landscape was neglected for a long time, with weeds and loose vegetation all over the sprawling island. Locals continued to call it 'Mason's Island' until the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the land from the Washington Gas Light Company in 1931.
The National Memorial stands on 88.5 acres of a lovely wooded island. The memorial features part of the Mason mansion that survived the onslaught of the American Civil War and a 1906 fire. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the land in 1931, to construct a memorial in honor of Theodore D. Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.
This Republican Party and Progressive Party leader was also a historian, explorer, naturalist, author, and soldier. The 'People's Darling' is now immortalized in the statue on Theodore Roosevelt Island, sculpted by Paul Manship.
The construction of the memorial was authorized by the Congress on May 21, 1932. Designed by architect Eric Gugler, the landmark includes a 17-foot statue of the president, four stone monoliths, and two large fountains. The stone monoliths flaunt Roosevelt quotes and achievements.
The property is looked after by the National Park Service that operates as a wing of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The National Memorial was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
The monument and natural park is open for public viewing all year round, except national holidays. The surrounding wilderness preserve is dedicated to the remembrance of the president's contributions to the preservation and conservation of wildlife, forests, and public lands.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is a visual treat for wildlife enthusiasts. It is rife with wooded areas that host bird refuges and monuments of national importance.
There are foot trails that wind lengths of over two miles, paying tribute to the carefully conserved natural flora and fauna of the region. Historians can revel in the Roosevelt tenets on conservation philosophy that are engraved on each of the four 21 feet granite tablets.