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Olmsteds: Landscapes and Legacies

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, in partnership with the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), hosted a three-day symposium as part of Olmsted 200, the national bicentennial commemoration of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. The symposium was held March 30, 2022 - April 2, 2022 in Boston, home to the Emerald Necklace, Olmsted’s last great public project. Adjacent to Boston is Brookline where the Olmsted firm’s home and office resided through 1980. For Olmsted, “nothing else compares in importance to us with the Boston work...I would have you decline any business that would stand in the way of doing the Best for Boston all the time." The symposium focused on the preservation of the legacies and landscapes of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and subsequent Olmsted firms that practiced at Fairsted in Brookline, MA.

The symposium was made possible by generous financial contributions from the Friends of Fairsted, National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP), and community supporters.

Presentations and poster topics included:

  • Preservation case studies
  • Community engagement
  • Adaptive reuse
  • Adaption for climate change
  • Landscape documentation
  • Accessibility
  • Vegetation Management

Through events, education, and advocacy at the local and national levels, Olmsted 200 ensures that the legacies of the Olmsteds live on across the country by renewing public and policy commitments to the preservation and maintenance of our historic parks and places. Olmsted Now is the Greater Boston effort, an inclusive coalition that connects communities and organizations commemorating Greater Boston’s bicentennial of Brookline-based Olmsted with the “fierce urgency of now.”

Keynote Speakers

Bridging the Past and the Future: The Legacies of the Olmsteds

Edward Eigen and Reverend and Mariama White-Hammond, look briefly at the history of the Olmsted firm and the creation of the modern practice of landscape design.

Edward A. Eigen

Edward A. Eigen is Senior Lecturer in the History of Landscape and Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. A historian of the long nineteenth century, in the European and Anglo-American contexts, his research and teaching focus on relationships in and between humanistic and scholarly traditions and the natural sciences and allied practices of knowledge production. With a background in art history, a professional training in design, and a doctorate in the history and theory of architecture from MIT, he is at home with and seeks to productively defamiliarize images, texts, and topographies of intricate description.

Reverend Mariama White-Hammond

Reverend Mariama White-Hammond is the Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston. In this role, Rev. White-Hammond is responsible for leading the Cabinet in achieving its mission of enhancing environmental justice and quality of life in Boston by protecting air, water, climate, and land resources, as well as preserving and improving the integrity of Boston's architectural and historic resources.

Presentations

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and the Improvement of Boulder, Colorado, Peter Pollock, FAICP

A Tale of Two Cities: Preserving the Olmsted Brothers Legacies in Seattle and Spokane, Washington, Natalie Perrin and Chrisanne Beckner, Historical Research Associates, Inc.

“Once in a Lifetime” Opportunity to Restore Greenspace to Boston's Franklin Park, Karen Mauney-Brodek, Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Olmsted Now: Greater Boston's Olmsted Bicentennial Focuses on His Justice Legacy, Jen Mergel, Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr’s Mountain Lake Sanctuary: The Creation and Legacy of a Didactic Landscape, Dennis Montagna, National Park Service

The Olmsted Brothers 1918 Report on Washington D.C.’s Rock Creek Park: America’s First National Park General Management Plan, Tim Davis, National Park Service

Bringing the Planting Fields Cultural Landscape Report to the Ground: Main Drive Renewal Project, Patricia O’Donnell, Heritage Landscapes LLC, Preservation Landscape Architects and Planners and Gina Wouters, Planting Fields Foundation

Incorporating Contemporary Accessibility Features into a Historic Landscape, Rhonda Buell Schier, National Park Service

Finding Olmsted in the Restoration of the U.S. Capitol Grounds, Gregory De Vries, Heritage Landscapes LLC, Preservation Landscape Architects and Planners and Melissa Westbrook at the Architect of the Capitol, U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum

Balancing Adaptation and Legacy: How the Washington National Cathedral is Protecting its Olmsted Woods in the Era of Climate Change, Martha Eberle, Andropogon Associates and Scott Todd, University of Pennsylvania Morris Arboretum

Creating a Campus: The 19th Century College Architecture of the Pioneer Valley, Gretchen Pineo, Public Archaeology Laboratory

Olmsted’s 1883 Plan for Colgate University and its Impacts on the Campus, Robert McVaugh, Colgate University

The Insane Asylum Landscapes of Olmsted and Vaux, Jennifer Thomas, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

Cambridge American Cemetery, Cortney Gjesfjeld, National Park Service

Author Talk

Rolf Diamant and Ethan Carr, authors of Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, and the National Park Idea. Learn about their research, which demonstrates how anti-slavery activism, war, and the remaking of the federal government gave rise to the American public park.

Partners and Sponsors

nps logo NCPTT Logo Friends of Fairsted Logo National Association of Olmsted ParksFriends of the Public Garden Logo Norman B Leventhal Logo Olmsted 200 Logo Emerald Necklace Logo Olmsted Now Logo Friends of NCPTT Logo

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

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Last updated: April 6, 2022