A new mile marker honors Wolf Trap’s founder

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts recognizes Catherine Filene Shouse’s generosity and activism.

Photo courtesy of Angelina Namkung, Wolf Trap Foundation

Catherine Filene Shouse, a women’s rights activist and founder of the popular Vienna performance space is honored with a historical mile marker at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

A small crowd of immediate family, longtime staff members and guests gathered in front of a podium at the 1500 block of Trap Road, Vienna, on Oct. 18 at 10:30 a.m., excited for the highway marker’s unveiling.

David Robertson, Shouse’s great-grandson, began his speech by drawing attention to the atmosphere of a perfect fall day complete with shining sun and crisp, cool air. Shortly thereafter, he listed off a handful of Shouse’s many accomplishments, among them being the first woman to earn a master’s degree in education from Harvard University; creating career opportunities for women in the 1950s via the first Intercollegiate Vocational Conference for Women; and raising $500,000 in only one month during World War II.

Once Robertson concluded, a plastic Virginia emblem poster was swiftly removed to reveal the the park’s latest addition, a mile marker reading: “Catherine Filene Shouse 1896-1194.”

“This is something that very few people could have accomplished,” John Robertson, a grandson of Shouse’s, said. “[Wolf Trap has] become really just a unique state of education and entertainment. That’s our family’s biggest pride and that’s what we support. That’s the legacy: education.”

The family continues to have close ties with the facility’s staff members, some of whom have worked at Wolf Trap for over 30 years.

“I have a nephew Andy … who is out here 20 times a season,” John Robertson went on. “It’s his heritage. It’s everyone’s heritage. It’s your heritage.”

In addition to the achievements listed above, Shouse also donated 100 acres of land to the federal government in an effort to create a cultural haven for the environment.

“What I hope people take from this is to remember the greatness of the people that came before us,” Arvind Manocha, CEO and president of Wolf Trap Foundation of the Performing Arts, said. “Sometimes we can take for granted the joys in our life and assume that they just happen. But they don’t just happen. It takes people.”