Frederick Law Olmsted Courtesy Fairsted, the Olmsted National Historic Site
Olmsted Documentary Headed to PBS
Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc. is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant supporting the making of an Olmsted documentary. With matching funds provided by WNED-TV in Buffalo, NY, the project is fully funded with production to start in July! Read the press release....
McMillan Park: An Olmsted Jr. Landscape At Risk, Washington D.C.
Fields of McMillan Park
As we all know, the Olmsted design team were visionaries. The historic 25 acre McMillan Park and Sand Filtration site in the heart of the nation’s capital is an unusual and unique Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. landscape. It is the oldest and biggest green roof which sits atop what was the largest slow sand filtration plant in the country. Conceived as a link in the “Emerald Necklace” of parks, open space and recreation facilities encircling the city, the park offers views of the United States Capitol and the Washington Monument. Read more...
New Trustees Join the NAOP Board
The NAOP Board of Trustees welcomed eight new members during its meeting in Detroit, MI, April 13-15, 2012: Lane Addonizio,
Associate Vice President for Planning at the Central Park Conservancy in New York, NY; Katie Eggers Comeau,
Architectural Historian at Bero Architecture PLLC in Rochester, NY; Rolf Diamant,
former superintendent of both the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Woodstock, VT, and Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, MA; Spencer Howard,
Partner at Artifacts Consulting, Inc., Tacoma, WA; Patrice Kish,
Director of the Office of Cultural Resources for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Boston, MA; Pamela J. Lazares,
philanthropist, Milton, MA; Nora Mitchell,
Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Vermont, Woodstock, VT, and founding director of the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, National Park Service; and Amy Marasco Newton,
Founder and President of the Newton Marasco Foundation and executive management consultant, Hillsboro, VA. Read more...
NAOP Visits Detroit, MI
Rosemarie Murane, NAOP Trustee
Belle Isle Conservatory
Hosted by the Belle Isle Conservancy, NAOP trustees held their spring meeting in Detroit, Michigan, to see the on-going restoration of Belle Isle Park, 982 acres on an island in the Detroit River with design work by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880's. The City of Detroit purchased the island in 1879 for $200,000 and four years later engaged Frederick Law Olmsted to create a master plan for Belle Isle.
Olmsted's intent to create an urban park surrounded by water, canals, ponds and lakes was partially realized and the subsequent tranquility of Belle Isle is notable. Olmsted’s conception of the Park included picturesque landscapes with passive recreational features. A Central Promenade was designed and installed. He also recommended forest areas should be kept intact, and there are still 200 acres of old growth in the Park.
The Belle Isle Conservancy (www.belleisleconservancy.org
) was formed after many discussions with members of the nearby communities. Four advocacy groups, which existed to support Belle Isle, merged to form the Conservancy. Over $2.5 million has been raised for restoration of the Park. Sarah Earley, conservancy president and a trustee of NAOP, is commended for her leadership in establishing the Conservancy. Read more...
Update from Louisville, KY
Audra Freeze, Olmsted Parks Conservancy
Olmsted Parks Conservancy Receives State Grant to Save the Ash Trees!
Volunteer Assisting with the Seeds to Trees Effort, Courtesy Audra Freeze
The Emerald Ash Borer is an exotic, metallic-green colored beetle that has killed 50 to 100 million ash trees in the United States since 2002. In the past decade, it has become one of the most destructive non-native insects found in the U.S. The beetle damages ash trees by feeding on the inner bark, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Once trees are infested with this invasive species most will die within two years.
To help combat the infestation, Olmsted Parks Conservancy received a $10,000 grant from the Kentucky Division of Forestry. The Conservancy will work closely with Metro Parks this summer to help treat 70-100 ash trees throughout the Frederick Law Olmsted Parks.
Innovative Plant for the Planet Program-Seeds to Trees:
Carolina Buckthorns for Seneca Park in Louisville
Two years ago, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy team responsible for woodland restoration discovered a grove of Carolina Buckthorn trees in Cherokee Park. This small grove of native trees was the only known population in any of the Frederick Law Olmsted Parks. Carolina Buckthorns produce small flowers accompanied by bright red berries, which ripen to black in the fall. The fully ripened fruit contains seeds that can be harvested for planting.
To help increase the tree population, the Olmsted Parks team collected seeds in partnership with Woody Warehouse Nursery. For two years the nursery nurtured the seedlings until they were sturdy enough to be planted outdoors. This past winter, 30 of the Carolina Buckthorns were planted in Seneca Park as part of Louisville Gas & Electric’s Plant for the Planet Program. Visit the Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s website for more information.
Master Plan for Genesee Valley Park West, Rochester, NY
Katie Eggers Comeau, NAOP Trustee
One of the "bow bridges" in Genesee Valley, Courtesy ParkBayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC
The City of Rochester has selected a team led by Bayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC, a Honeoye Falls-based firm with expertise in restoration and rehabilitation of historic landscapes, to produce a master plan for Genesee Valley Park West, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.
Genesee Valley Park is an example of Olmsted’s distinctive pastoral style, taking advantage of gently rolling terrain around the Genesee River south of downtown Rochester. Olmsted designated the portion of the park west of the river for active recreational use, such as boating. John C. Olmsted advised the Park Commission on appropriate ways to incorporate additional sports venues into this west section of the park as he oversaw implementation of the original design into the early 20th century. Genesee Valley Park West remains the most intensively developed portion of the park, now containing an ice rink, pool, rowing center, tennis and baseball courts, and other facilities. The aim of the current project is to analyze current conditions of buildings and landscape features, provide recommendations for historic landscape treatment, and produce schematic designs for the park, particularly focusing on a redesign of boating facilities. Read more...
Where are the Omsted Glasshouses? Seattle, WA
Joan Hockaday, advisory board, Friends of Seattle Olmsted Parks, and Eliza Davidson, NAOP Trustee
Springtime daffodils draw attention to the Conservatory, Courtesy Friends of Seattle Olmsted Parks
An enormous upwelling of public support for the 1912 Volunteer Park Conservatory has occurred this spring, as questions about public restoration and operations funding emerged in the press in February. By late May consultant recommendations for stabilizing both should be released, with promising strategies to assure the Conservatory another 100 years of life as a centerpiece of Volunteer Park's Olmsted Brothers design. Wine and chocolate tasting, moonlight viewing with live music, a glass art exhibit and the traditional Mother's Day weekend plant sale have all attracted enthusiastic visitors and new supporters.
Broader efforts to insure sustainable stewardship for the whole park are also underway, led by Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks. Like municipalities across the country, Seattle faces significant budget shortfalls. General Fund-supported departments like Parks and Recreation have been especially subject to damaging cutbacks, proposed Conservatory defunding being just one example. Growing use, diminishing maintenance and restoration backlogs make Seattle's treasured historic parks particularly vulnerable.
At this year's Friends of the Conservatory (Volunteer Park) annual membership meeting in April, Victorian gardens took center stage as two speakers reviewed the era and its glasshouse excesses and successes. The Olmsteds—beginning with Frederick Law Olmsted’s fascination with Sir Joseph Paxton's Great Conservatory at Chatsworth and then with Paxton's 1851 Crystal Palace in Hyde Park during his travels to England—soon found for clients more humble glass enclosures for parks and private estates across America. Read more...
Congratulations to Olmsted Linear Park Alliance, Atlanta, GA
NAOP congratulates Olmsted Linear Park Alliance (OLPA) in Atlanta, Georgia, for its recent awards. The park received the Marguerite Williams Award
, presented annually by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation to the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state. The park, located along Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Avenue in Druid Hills, also received an award in the Excellence in Rehabilitation
category. Read the press release...
Les Amis De La Montagne Recognizes NAOP Trustee, Quebec, Canada
Les Amis De La Montagne, an organization working to protect and enhance Mount Royal, Quebec, Canada through community involvement and environmental education, is celebrating Mount Royal Month!
As part of this month-long series of events, Les Amis De La Montagne is recognizing two people “for their body of work and their significant and exemplary contributions towards the realization of numerous projects that preserve the valuable heritage of Frederick Law Olmsted in Mount Royal Park.” This year’s recipients are Wendy Graham, landscape architect, Ville de Montreal from 1982 to 2012, and NAOP’s very own Trustee, Daniel Chartier, landscape architect, Ville de Montreal since 1977. Congratulations to Daniel and Wendy. Thank you for all of your tireless efforts!
The awards ceremony is on Tuesday, May 22 at 5:30pm. The Prix du Mont-Royal is an initiative of Les Amis de la Montagne presented in collaboration with the Ville de Montréal. The awards ceremony closes the festivities celebrating Mount Royal Month, one of the most important springtime conservation events in Montreal. For more information visit their website.
NAOP Receives Grant From the Driehaus Foundation
NAOP received a $15,000 grant award from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation to support ongoing work on volume 9 of the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers Series. Volume 9: The Last Great Projects, 1890–1895,
where the World's Columbian Exposition is detailed, will make a significant contribution to understanding the impact made by Olmsted on the city of Chicago. Read more...
Happy Birthday, Olmsted!
The staff at NAOP and people throughout the world celebrated the 190th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted on April 26th. Thank you to all who generously donated in honor of Olmsted’s birthday! It’s still not too late to celebrate! It's not too late to still give, donate now!
Show Your Support of NAOP by Posting our Membership Badge
The park and landscape design work of Olmsted and his successors reflects a vision of American communities and American society as relevant today as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries—a commitment to visually compelling and accessible green space that restores and nurtures the body and spirit of all people, regardless of their economic circumstances.
Your membership in the National Association for Olmsted Parks is not only helping to preserve historic places, but also ensures that the Olmsted ideals of quality design, preservation of natural open space, and access for all are upheld for future generations. Thank you for your support!
Leverage the Olmsted advocate network by proudly displaying the NAOP Member Web badge on your Web site or blog. Get the HTML code of the badge.
Lakeshore Homes Association: Preservation in Oakland, CA
Historic Ad, Courtesy Lakeshore Homes Association
The Lakeshore Homes Association, the second oldest west of the Mississippi, was founded in 1917 by the developer of Lakeshore Highlands as a way of protecting this “residential park” in the City of Oakland, California, designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Covenants, conditions and restrictions that go with the deeds to properties are managed by the Association. An advisory Neighborhood Preservation Committee reviews changes to the exterior of properties and hears neighbor disputes. Final decisions are made by the Association board.
The Association also acts as a repository of historic plans, photos and artifacts. It has given photos to the Oakland History Room of the Library. The Association plans events for the community and provides a structure for emergency preparedness using a cluster approach. When the City of Oakland could no longer do the pollarding (cutback of branches) of 266 City-owned sycamores in the parking (planting) strips, the Association took over. In the 1950’s, the Association lost a road battle that resulted in the loss of 160 homes. However, it was subsequently able to get the support of the City in concert with Mills College and other neighborhood groups for a ban on large trucks. The truck ban remains in effect and is the only one in the country on an interstate highway (580 Freeway).
Both the board and committees (Parks and Membership in addition to Neighborhood Preservation) are all volunteer-based. There is one full-time paid position of administrator, currently shared, with 30 hours for general administration and 10 for financial. Funding comes from annual dues from 1,056 homes.
The Association’s general administrator Claudia Skapik, who grew up in another Olmsted Brothers-designed community, Palos Verdes Estates, thought that the developer of Lakeshore Highlands and the Olmsted Brothers would recognize their project today and be pleased. “Having associations really keeps things preserved,” she said. Visit their website for more information.
Esley Hamilton, NAOP Trustee
Historic Grant Park by Jennifer Goad Cuthbertson and Philip M. Cuthbertson. Arcadia Publishing, 2011, 128 pages.
If you thought Atlanta, Georgia, couldn’t have a park named for a Union general, you were right; this one is named for Lemuel Pratt Grant (1817-1893), who donated 100 acres to the city in 1883. Piecemeal development followed over the following two decades before Olmsted Brothers presented a comprehensive plan in 1904. Today the park is perhaps best known for the Atlanta Cyclorama, an enormous cylindrical painting of the Battle of Atlanta created in the 1880s. Only a fragment of Lemuel Grant’s own residence survives, but authors’ proceeds from this book are dedicated to its restoration. Phil (NAOP Trustee) and Jennifer Cuthbertson have been able to loosen the typically rigid Images of America format used by Arcadia to include full-page pictures and the story not just of the park but of the surrounding neighborhoods, set in the context of the rise of Atlanta from the ashes of the Civil War to the dominant city of the South.
Hosts at the recent NAOP board meeting at Belle Isle Park in Detroit directed our attention to not just one book but two that have been published about this park. They date back a few years but are still worth celebrating:
Island in the City: Belle Isle, Detroit’s Beautiful Island. How Belle Isle Changed Detroit Forever by Janet Anderson et al. Detroit Historical Museum, 2001, 106 pages.
Detroit’s Belle Isle: Island Park Gem by Michael Rodriguez and Thomas Featherstone. Arcadia Publishing, 2003, 128 pages.
An important book about the work of the Olmsteds in New Jersey has just been published, and the author appropriately draws attention to an earlier and equally good book focusing on the earliest executed Olmsted work in the state. Jokes about the Garden State fall flat once you have seen the range of beautiful landscapes that these books document:
Olmsted Parks in New Jersey by Jeanne Kolva. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2011, 176 pages.
Cadwalader Heights: The History of an Olmsted Neighborhood: Trenton, New Jersey by Glenn R. Modica. Trenton, N.J.: Bucks Digital Printing, 2007, 185 pages.