Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial

Black and white of stone memorial with plaque in middle with trees in the background
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial

Olmsted Archives

Quick Facts
Gatlinburg, TN
Olmsted Designed Memorial
Olmsted Brothers were hired by the National Park Service in 1938 to create a memorial to John D. Rockefeller’s mother Laura. With only a budget of $20,000, and working in harsh winter conditions, Olmsted Brothers tasked partner Henry Hubbard with the design.

Hubbard was tasked with transforming the “nose of a little hill” into a spiral of two terraces climbing up the hill’s slope. When it came to construction for the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, the Civilian Conservation Corps were commissioned, working until 1940.

When development began, Hubbard created a clay model of two semicircular stone block terraces hugging the face of the hill, connected by steps leading to a lookout. Models were created at the request of a client and were almost immediately taken apart after completion of the design. After Hubbard created his model for the Spelman Memorial, he took a light and tracked the path of sunlight, to ensure that light shined on the memorial. This extra attention to detail is what helped make the Olmsted firm so prolific.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Last updated: October 21, 2023