|From||United States of America|
|Birth||17 April 1885, Olympia, Thurston County, Washington, USA|
|Death||4 September 1969, Olympia, Thurston County, Washington, USA (aged 84 years)|
Margaret McKenny (April 17, 1885 - August 1969) was an American landscape architect, naturalist, activist, and writer who was referred to as the "Grand Dame" of Northwest mushrooming.
Born in Olympia, Washington, she was a child of General Thomas I. McKenny, who served as a General in the Civil War as well as Indian Agent for Washington Territory. Her mother was Cynthia Adelaide, and she was an only child.
Education and Career
After attending local schools in Olympia, McKenny attended one of the few schools of landscape architecture open to women students at the turn of the century called the Lowthorpe School in Groton, Massachusetts. While attending Lowthorpe, she joined the Boston Mycological Club, creating a pathway to become a nationally-recognized mycologist. After moving back to Olympia, McKenny operated a Montessori school from 1913 to 1919.
In 1919, she moved to New York City and worked for the Garden Club of America and the New York City Gardens Club as a landscape architect, among other organizations. In addition to writing for the New York Botanical Garden, she also became a staff member of the Nature Lore School at the American Museum of Natural History.
McKenny returned to Olympia in 1943. Among other jobs, she worked as official photographer for the Washington State Parks Commission.
McKenny led several efforts to preserving local open spaces in Olympia from private development. Those locations include Sylvester Park in the downtown core of the city, which is included in the listing for the Olympia Downtown Historic District. Another notable success is Watershed Park, a 153-acre temperate rainforest in the central core of the city. McKenney founded a group called "Citizens of the Future" which circulated a petition to save the park from development, and was ultimately successful because of a trial in the Washington Supreme Court.
McKenny is also credited with being "Among the first to articulate the need for the Nisqually River" delta in an era when the Port of Tacoma considered dredging the delta for a deepwater harbor and the City of Seattle considered putting a garbage dump there. In the longterm, McKenny's activism resulted in the establishment of the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
In addition to several other organizations, McKenny is credited with founding the Olympia Audubon Society.
The Olympia School District named Margaret McKenny Elementary School in her memory; the Washington State Department of Natural Resources named the Margaret McKenny Campground in Capitol State Forest for her; and the Olympia City Council named the Margaret McKenny Park for her.