Restoration of the
Anne Spencer House Garden
Among the most important projects to unfold during the club’s first half-century is the restoration of the garden of the Anne Spencer House on Pierce Street, beginning in 1983. Led by Nell Holt and Jane White, this undertaking revitalized the grounds and garden of Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer. Her home is both a Virginia Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Landmarks and recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.
Beyond the hundreds of hours invested in research, planning, and gardening, Hillside also contributed more than $8,000 toward the garden’s restoration. The total value of the work done there was over $20,000, which included numerous in-kind gifts of labor and materials from club members and the community.
Hillside received the 1985 Common Wealth Award of $6,000 from the Garden Club of Virginia, spurring the club to complete the project and fund a $10,000 endowment to support its subsequent maintenance. Of special significance is the fact that this garden is the only known restored garden of an African American in existence.
In 2008 Hillside again became actively involved in restoration efforts for the Anne Spencer Garden, and in 2009, the club was once again the recipient of the Common Wealth Award for the Garden.
The $10,000 award was used primarily for restoration of the fish pond and installation of audio information stations. In 2010 Hillside donated $19,000 from its treasury and endowment funds for further restoration needs in the Garden. Those funds, along with contributions from club members and friends of the garden, made possible the restoration of the grape arbor and wisteria pergola, which was completed in 2011.