One of seven children, Ruth Havey was born and educated in Massachusetts, where she studied at Smith College and the Cambridge School of Domestic Architecture and Landscape Architecture. While she established her own landscape architecture practice in New York City in 1935, Havey’s legacy rests heavily on her association with the office of Beatrix Farrand, and her work spanning nearly forty years on a single project, the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. Havey worked closely with Farrand and the patron, Mildred Bliss, on much of the detailed design work in the garden. After Farrand’s departure, Havey returned to Dumbarton Oaks to work with Bliss, culminating in the intricate design of the Pebble Garden. Generally unacknowledged, Havey’s detailed design elements were highly valued by Farrand and Bliss, and her work provided continuity in the garden’s long history of experimentation and collaboration among numerous designers.
A member of the Association of Women in Architecture and the American Society of Landscape Architects, Havey’s other commissions include a fountain for the Meridian House in Washington, D.C., the Lawrence Coolidge cemetery plot in the Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, Massachusetts, and a playhouse for the garden of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Gamble in Fieldston, New York.