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A Tale of Two Cities: Preserving the Olmsted Brothers Legacies in Seattle and Spokane, Washington

Natalie Perrin and Chrisanne Beckner
Natalie Perrin and Chrisanne Beckner

NPS Photo

Abstract

The Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects took their famous father’s principles of landscape design into the 20th century, designing parks and boulevard plans for numerous young cities in the topographically gifted Northwest. One hundred years later, two of these cities, Seattle and Spokane, are reassessing the Olmsted plans that influenced everything from land acquisition to park design and funding for Parks departments. In each case, HRA was asked to survey and document city parks under an MPD so as to identify appropriate areas of significance and provide guidelines for assessing the integrity of parks from all periods of city development.

The process of preparing these MPDs provided HRA with rare insight into how cities are valuing the history of Olmsted Brothers designs within their park systems. While Seattle seeks to identify itself as a city designed around the Olmsted plan for parks and boulevards, Spokane identifies the Olmsted Brothers as one influence among many from the City Beautiful movement. While Seattle ties every park even loosely associated with the Olmsted Brothers into a single codified Olmsted Brothers system, Spokane thinks more holistically, tying Olmsted Brothers parks into its broader recreational system.

As both Spokane and Seattle look toward the next 100 years, they are actively reviewing and revising their understanding of the Olmsted Brothers legacy and how it should guide future citywide park design and management. This paper will introduce readers to the Olmsted Brothers parks in Seattle and Spokane, providing key examples from original planning documents, and compare and contrast each city’s approach to preserving and interpreting the Olmsted Brothers legacy into the future.

Presenter Biographies

Natalie Perrin

Natalie Perrin is HRA’s President Elect, Principal Architectural Historian, and manages the HRA-Eugene office. After joining HRA in 2008, she served as principal investigator on numerous cultural resources management projects, including Historic Structures Reports for properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP); NRHP nominations (individual, district, and multiple property documents); Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Reports (HABS/HAER); Historic Property Management Plans (HPMPs); Design Reviews; Restoration and Rehabilitation Consulting projects; and surveys with Section 106 Evaluations. With specialized training in building conservation technology, Natalie is particularly adept at evaluating historic resources from the ground up.

Chrisanne Beckner

Chrisanne Beckner, HRA Senior Architectural Historian, joined HRA in 2013 and recently took over management of HRA’s architectural history program. She has surveyed and evaluated buildings, structures, and many park landscapes; and prepared numerous cultural resources technical reports in support of private and public projects, including those in the transportation, energy, and hydroelectric fields. She has listed numerous properties in the NRHP, including, in partnership with Natalie Perrin, Seattle’s Olmsted Brothers-designed Lake Washington Boulevard. Perrin and Beckner also prepared Multiple Property Documents (MPDs) for Olmsted parks and boulevards in both Seattle and Spokane, Washington.

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Duration:
55.222 seconds

A Tale of Two Cities: Preserving the Olmsted Brothers Legacies in Seattle and Spokane, Washington

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
Duration:
58.625 seconds

A Tale of Two Cities: Preserving the Olmsted Brothers Legacies in Seattle and Spokane, Washington

Presenter Biographies

Natalie Perrin

Natalie Perrin is HRA’s President Elect, Principal Architectural Historian, and manages the HRA-Eugene office. After joining HRA in 2008, she served as principal investigator on numerous cultural resources management projects, including Historic Structures Reports for properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP); NRHP nominations (individual, district, and multiple property documents); Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Reports (HABS/HAER); Historic Property Management Plans (HPMPs); Design Reviews; Restoration and Rehabilitation Consulting projects; and surveys with Section 106 Evaluations. With specialized training in building conservation technology, Natalie is particularly adept at evaluating historic resources from the ground up.

Chrisanne Beckner

Chrisanne Beckner, HRA Senior Architectural Historian, joined HRA in 2013 and recently took over management of HRA’s architectural history program. She has surveyed and evaluated buildings, structures, and many park landscapes; and prepared numerous cultural resources technical reports in support of private and public projects, including those in the transportation, energy, and hydroelectric fields. She has listed numerous properties in the NRHP, including, in partnership with Natalie Perrin, Seattle’s Olmsted Brothers-designed Lake Washington Boulevard. Perrin and Beckner also prepared Multiple Property Documents (MPDs) for Olmsted parks and boulevards in both Seattle and Spokane, Washington.

Part of a series of articles titled Olmsteds: Landscapes and Legacies.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Last updated: April 4, 2022