The Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington, D.C., dates to the 18th century. In 1920, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss acquired the property and renovated it to house their pre-Columbian and Byzantine collections and library. Working with landscape architect Beatrix Ferrand, they transformed 54 acres into a series of noteworthy gardens. In 1940, they created the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection to be administered by Harvard University trustees.
The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, gardening and landscaping, and pre-Columbian studies through fellowships, internships, meetings and exhibitions. The institution welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books, objects, images and documents. Visitors from the public also are welcome to stroll the historic gardens, walk through the museum filled with world-class art collections, and enjoy concerts and lectures in the music room.
As founding members of the institution, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss called upon future policymakers to remember Dumbarton Oaks and its gardens have educational importance and humanistic value. These ambitions continue to guide Dumbarton Oaks with close attention given to retaining its vitality through constant renewal.
To this end, in 2013, a plan was developed to revitalize Dumbarton Oaks' campus. Included in the renovation plans were four buildings—the potting shed, the refectory, a guest house and the operations building. Chosen for its exceptional roofing work performed on other Dumbarton Oaks buildings, James Myers Co. Inc., Beltsville, Md., was selected for the project.