Inspired in the late 1950s by growing cultural ties between Oregon and Japan, Mayor Terry Schrunk and members of the Portland community conceived the idea of building a Japanese garden on the site of the old zoo in Washington Park.
This initiative sparked the interest of Margueritte (Maggie) Drake, who showed up at the first Japanese Garden committee meeting held by the city of Portland in 1963.
From then on, Drake became an integral part of Portland Japanese Garden – from serving on the Board of Directors for nearly five decades, becoming the first female Board President (1993-1995), and being unanimously nominated as Board Member Emeritus in honor of her unparalleled years of service in 2010.
In the summer of 2021, at age 94, Drake generously participated in an interview with KGW (local NBC affiliate), where she shares her story and recounts on the growth of the Portland community and of course, the Garden.
“The Garden is never static”Maggie Drake
Drake says, “The Garden is never static,” and that it has been one of her life’s pleasures to watch Portland Japanese Garden mature from what it was – merely a pile of rubble and dirt with a few leftover buildings from the old zoo site – to the world-class garden and organization it is today. Portland Japanese Garden is the manifestation of a continuous effort by a dedicated community.
To learn more about the history of Portland Japanese Garden, see here.