Back in 1902, First Lady Edith Roosevelt (wife of President Theodore Roosevelt) took it upon herself to convert an area of the White House grounds that once housed stables for horses and carriages into a classic colonial garden as part of the Roosevelt renovation. In 1913, First Lady Ellen Louise Axson Wilson (first wife of President Woodrow Wilson) followed her lead by replacing what had become known as the West Garden with a Rose Garden, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt went on to appoint famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (son of the creator of New York's Central Park) to freshen up the design of the Rose Garden in 1935. In 1961, under the direction of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, amateur gardener Rachel Lambert "Bunny" Mellon was asked to designed the current garden, which led to what is known today as the Kennedy Rose Garden, adjacent to the Oval Office and Cabinet Room.
"It was part of a general landscape redesign of the White House complex," says Dan Roberts, a liberal arts and history professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, who also serves as executive producer and host of the syndicated history radio program "A Moment in Time," in an email interview. "The Rose Garden balanced the structure with the East Garden, or Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, on the other side of living quarters in the central and original building of the White House. This is essentially the Rose Garden we know today."