Shown above: The new US Park Police Horse Stables and Wells Fargo Education Center on the National Mall in Washington, DC, was entirely funded by private philanthropy, thanks to the Trust for the National Mall’s generous supporters.
The National Mall, one of America’s most iconic public spaces, has recently undergone a transformation with the opening of the new US Park Police Horse Stables and Wells Fargo Education Center. Built by the Trust for the National Mall in partnership with the National Park Service, the new stables are a major upgrade from the original 1970s facility. “The barn is truly stunning, automatic feeders, wash stalls, custom saddle stands, absolutely beautiful cedar,” said Quatrefoil Senior Graphic Designer Cole Breeding. “It’s night and day from before.”
Quatrefoil was excited to be a part of the first phase of interior interpretation, designing graphics, hands-on gear, and multimedia displays for the Education Center, which highlights the rich history of the United States Park Police Mounted Unit and the incredible bond between officers and their horses. The legacy of the Mounted Unit dates back to 1791, when George Washington established a commission to protect the nation’s capital, employing “park watchmen” to safeguard public lands and buildings. Although the force has transitioned through various federal entities over the years, the US Park Police can trace its lineage back to those early watchmen.
The Horse Mounted Patrol was added in 1934, with one modest horse rented from a local stable. Horses, as the original all-terrain vehicles, are ideally suited for patrolling the urban parks. During demonstrations and events, inaugurations and festivals, they can move easily through crowds while providing officers with a higher vantage point to view the surroundings. With the motto, “honor, integrity, service”, the tradition of the Horse Mounted Patrol continues across national parks in Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco.
“Seeing the joy that the horses bring to everyone and looking back at that history, it’s really amazing, especially because we’re here in DC,” Cole reflects. “But also because we’re here in DC, and the building is on the National Mall, we have to make sure the design and exhibits hold up to hundreds of thousands of visitors. The MLK Memorial is across the street, and the Lincoln Memorial is just to the left. This will be a major stopping point for a lot of people. Seeing the horses, it’s a bit of a lighter moment and a respite for those who’ve been taking in the monuments,” Cole reflected.
“We’ll learn a lot about how people engage with the exhibits,” said Manjit Kingra, Senior Project Manager at Quatrefoil. “That will be critical research for phase II.” The second phase of the Education Center will introduce exterior interpretive signage and additional displays on horse care, grooming, and feeding. The Education Center will also showcase moving interviews with current and former officers. For Manjit, “The whole thing was inspiring. I loved the horses. Getting to meet the horses and the officers was great!”
As people explore the National Mall, they’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history of the United States Park Police Mounted Unit and appreciate the vital role they’ve played in protecting and serving the community.
Learn more about the project, and see an amazing timelapse video of the building during construction: https://nationalmall.org/content/horse-stables