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My Favorite Place: Mary-Louise Parker

Iconic residence of the sitting President of the United States; an unrecognizable Secret Service Agent watches from the roof

Photo: iStock

“I’ve been going to Washington since I was a child, and all the memorials are imprinted on me with varying degrees of impact and sentiment. But the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is the one I find most profoundly moving. I grew up as the daughter of a soldier, and this monument makes the most clearly articulated antiwar statement. There’s a very peaceful vibe, but it’s a kind of bittersweet tranquility. I remember coming around the corner and seeing it for the first time. It just stopped me. The city is filled with majesty—there’s such a grand structure and scale—but the FDR Memorial isn’t about scale. It doesn’t compete with the surrounding grandeur. It’s its own world, and it’s more about how the images and text are used. The design has a mazelike quality, but when you walk through, it also feels really open. It’s spiritual without being preachy or arch or even somber. It doesn’t smack me over the head. Instead, it just washes over me and makes me think. I almost always visit the memorial when I’m in D.C., and I take friends. Recently I took my son there, a little mother-son trip. You know, it shouldn’t be as stirring as it is—it should feel like a bunch of statues. But instead, it fills me with such hope.”

Mary-Louise Parker will star in Hedda Gabler at the American Airlines Theatre in New York starting January 6 (212/719-1300; roundabouttheatre.org). Her Showtime series, Weeds, begins its fifth season this summer.

—Reported by Dani Shapiro

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