John Hennessy Saul

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John Hennessy Saul (December 25, 1819-May 11, 1897) was a prominent horticulturist and landscape architect who assisted in the planning and the development of the National Mall in Washington D.C. and served as the first Chairman of Washington D.C.’s Parks commission.

Biography[edit]

John Hennessy Saul was born in County Cork, Ireland, the son of James Saul (1779-1869) and Mary Hennessy (1790-1880), both also born in County Cork. His surname is of Norman-Irish origin being a corruption of DeSalle. Saul worked in various nurseries in Ireland, assisting his father, eventually becoming a manager of several nurseries.[1] In 1851, he emigrated to the United States preceded by his brother, also a horticulturalist, who had emigrated in 1849, to work for noted landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing.[1][2][3] From 1851 to 1853, he was responsible along with William Dunlop Brackenridge for improving the National Mall, Lafayette Square, and the Smithsonian Museum grounds.[1][4]

In 1852, he started a seed business. In 1854, Saul became the first Chairman of Washington’s Parks commission, the forerunner of the Park and Planning Commission for the city.[5] In 1854, he purchased his first nursery and in 1872, he purchased his second. He operated twenty greenhouses using his horticultural skills to create numerous new varieties of plants. He was a member of the American Society of Florists and was a frequent contributor to the journal The Horticulturalist.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He married, Rosina M. Lawley, who was born in England, in a Catholic ceremony in England.[1] He died on May 11, 1897.[1] His son, Bernard Francis Saul (January 16, 1872 - February 1, 1931) was the founder Washington D.C.'s first mortgage bank, the B. F. Saul Company.

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