Continuing Traditions: The Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House

Those familiar with the Waverly Community House’s outdoor landscape often look forward to springtime each year as the flowers begin to bloom and greenery starts to show, indicating to everyone that warmer, brighter days are ahead. One of the most beautiful locations to witness this beauty on the Comm’s outdoor grounds is the Memorial Garden, which sits alongside the beloved Community House Playground. As with most of the additions at the Comm, the Memorial Garden has a history all its own, filled with a sense of beauty, community, and family.

The exquisite Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House filled with flowers, Commander Peter Belin, 1948greenery, and seating for the public to enjoy was gifted to the Comm by Harry Lammot Belin in memory of his father, Captain Peter Belin. Peter Belin was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and spent part of his youth in both Istanbul and Peking, where his father, Ferdinand Lammot Belin was a Foreign Service Officer. Peter later received his education at schools in Switzerland and the United States, ultimately graduating from Yale University as a young adult in 1936. Captain Belin was a passenger aboard the ill-fated Hindenburg Zeppelin when it burned and crashed in Lakehurst New Jersey in 1937. He began his naval career later that year and spent most of it in intelligence; his overseas posts included London, Paris, and the Mediterranean. Peter Belin retired in 1960 and lived at “Evermay,” a historic estate in Georgetown; one of Peter’s great interests was historic preservation and he engaged in many conservation efforts throughout his life. Mr. Belin dedicated much of his life to service with one of his most significant contributions being the establishment of the Belin Arts Scholarship in 1964; this award continues to aid artists today and has been expanded upon and redefined throughout the years to reach individuals across the world. Captain Peter Belin died on February 23rd, 1982, however his presence reverberates through both the scholarship and Memorial Garden, established by his son, Harry Lammot Belin in May of 1996.

MG PamphletThe Peter Belin Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House was designed by J. Wayne Pratt, R.L.A., landscape architect. It was installed by Four Seasons Lawn Care and organized by the Landscape Committee of the Waverly Community House Board of Trustees. The formal Dedication Ceremony took place on May 19th, 1996 at 12:00 noon with opening remarks, followed by a luncheon attended by Mr. Belin’s friends, family, and local community members. Opening remarks were made by Harry Belin who spoke fondly of his father, the Waverly Community House, and the Abingtons. Part of his speech is quoted below.

“Why Waverly for a family memorial to my father? After all, there were other places he enjoyed and loved such as “Evermay,” our estate and gardens in Washington D.C., or Chateau Andelot in France, or Conversation Peace at Virginia Beach. Each had its special spot in my father’s heart. But, as best as my memory can serve, we all know that he became the most excited to go, and he was the happiest and most at ease with his extended family in the Abingtons. My father enjoyed life to its fullest. In so doing, highest on his list of priorities was a childlike Joie de Vivre (with humor at its core), and family and friends. In this context, I believe he considered Waverly his most favorite “playground.” It is hoped that in establishing this Memorial Garden close by the Comm’s own playground, thus may my father’s spirit live on at the heart of the village he loved dearly and amongst one of the most joyful of sounds God has designed …..children at play.” — Harry L. Belin (May 19th, 1996)

The Memorial Garden at the Waverly Community House has been serving the community since its establishment in 1996. It was later upgraded in 2017, thanks again to the generosity and guidance of Harry Belin. It is a resting place, a play area, a quiet reflection spot, an area of tranquility for all to enjoy, and of course– it is a gift to the community, beloved by individuals and families of all ages and walks of life.

This garden is dedicated to the memory of Peter Belin (1913-1982). May the sounds of children at play sing of his love for Waverly, and the people of the Abingtons.

This remembrance is dedicated to our great friend, Harry Lammot Belin (1942-2019).Garden 7