Occupying one acre between M Street and the C&O Canal in Georgetown and bisected by Key Bridge, this site commemorates Francis Scott Key’s legacy as the writer of “The Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. Located near the historical site of Key’s place of residence, which was dismantled in 1947, the Francis Scott Key Foundation embarked on a fundraising campaign to build the park on a vacant lot following approval from the National Capital Planning Commission in 1988. Designed by Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, the park was dedicated in 1993 and donated to the National Park Service.
The park is designed to offer opportunities for passive reflection. The centerpiece of the site, a brownstone and brick plaza, comprises a wisteria-draped limestone pergola and a bronze bust of Key sculpted by Betty Mailhouse Dunston. The bust is positioned towards a 60-foot flagpole topped with a replica of the 15-star flag that inspired Key’s poem. Magnolia trees and formal sweeps of colorful perennials surround the plaza. Precisely positioned trees and meadow plants occupy terraces installed into the park’s hillside, framing vistas of the Canal and the Potomac. Curving brick pathways wind throughout the site, flanked with strategically placed benches directed towards expansive views.