In many ways, the story of Woodend is the story of land use in our region

The buildings at Woodend Nature Sanctuary date from the late 1920s and the estate of Chester and Marion Wells.

The family hired the famous architect John Russell Pope to design their home, which at the time was considered a country house. Marion Wells bequeathed the 40 acres that remained in the estate to the Audubon Naturalist Society. But, of course, the land has a longer and richer history than just the story of this one family.

Before the Wells family arrived, the rolling hills of Woodend were once part of the hunting grounds of Algonquin-speaking people, were included in an early colonial land grant, and were intensively farmed for tobacco in a plantation system that exploited the labor of enslaved people. In recent decades, the forces of urbanization have surrounded Woodend and impacted the ecology within it. In many ways, the story of Woodend is the story of land use in our region. Delve into that history with the gorgeous documentary The Land of Woodend.


The Audubon Naturalist Society was founded in 1897, many decades before Woodend Sanctuary & Mansion would become its headquarters.

ANSlogo200X111Started by volunteers, ANS is the DC area’s longest-serving independent environmental organization. Watch the documentary (left), produced for ANS’s 100th anniversary to learn about our fascinating legacy. The organization's history includes the passing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,  the saving of the C&O Canal park, as well as naturalist luminaries Rachel Carson and Roger Tory Peterson, who helped to build ANS into the institution it is today.


Visit Woodend Sanctuary

8940 Jones Mill Road
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk
Admission is free

Thank you for leaving dogs and other pets at home

Download our Trail Map