Spotlight: Joshua Klingle Pierce — Washington, DC
During the 19th century, the majority of the land now known as Rock Creek Park was owned by Isaac Peirce, one of Washington's most prominent land holders and mill owners. It was here that Isaac's son, Joshua Peirce, constructed his home in 1823 on top of a bluff overlooking the Rock Creek Valley and transformed an 82-acre tract of land into Washington D.C.'s first commercial nursery. Utilizing slave labor as the main work force until 1860, the nursery proved profitable and thrived for many decades. An avid horticulturalist, Peirce honored Swedish botanist Karl Von Linnaeus by naming both his property and his nursery Linnaean Hill.
The Linnaean Hill estate was comprised of eleven stone and wooden structures. In addition to the home, only three other structures still exist to remind us of Peirce's use of the land. One of the most important buildings in the complex was the greenhouse. Built in 1826, it was situated between the utility and potting sheds behind the mansion. It was in this building that Peirce expertly developed and cultivated highly prized varieties of camellias.
In 1890, during the creation of Rock Creek Park, the federal government purchased the home from Joshua's nephew, Joshua Peirce Klingle. Locally referred to as Klingle Mansion, the homestead served as the original Nature Center for Rock Creek Park from 1950-1960.