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The 22nd Annual Tudor Place Garden Party (Photos)

The event honored preservationist Niente Ingersoll Smith.
The bustling bar and honoree Niente Ingersoll Smith with Marcia Mayo. Photographs by Carol Ross Joynt.

Cloudy skies, random thunder, and a downpour did not seriously dampen the 22nd annual garden party of Tudor Place, the historic museum house in Georgetown. The so-called Spring Garden Party is a high point of Washington’s social calendar as it transitions into summer. The lavish cocktail party and buffet dinner event draws some of the city’s most reclusive cave dwellers for a last urban hurrah before packing up for summer homes among mountains, lakes, and oceans. That probably explains the exuberant spirit (though the massive center bar played a pivotal role, too).

Each year Tudor Place uses the party to raise essential funds but also to honor a member of the community. This year it honored Niente Ingersoll Smith, who was described as “an avid preservationist with a lifelong passion for architectural history and American and English decorative arts.” All three are important components of Tudor Place, which was built in the early 19th century by Martha Custis Peter, the granddaughter of Martha Washington, and her husband, Thomas. They used an inheritance from President George Washington to buy the land that sits high on a hill. The house was completed in 1816.

Smith, who lives in Georgetown, has been a long-time advocate of Tudor Place, has served on many of the museum’s committees, and is now an honorary trustee. The garden party’s co-chairs, Liz Dougherty, Page Evans, and Colman Rackley Riddell, praised Smith as “steadfast and indispensable to this organization’s success.”

The packed soiree featured several buffets, the Levine Faculty Jazz Trio, some speeches, and those all-important bars—a large one under the center of the tent and another on the lawn, an outpost for those who didn’t mind venturing across wet grass and between rain drops. Boots proved to be the most sensible footwear.

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