F R E D E R I C K L AW
Plans and Views of Communities and Private Estates
EDITED BY CHARLES E. BEVERIDGE, LAUREN MEIER , AND IRENE MILLS
OLMSTED Plans and Views of Communities and Private Estates
edited by CHARLES E. BEVERIDGE, LAUREN MEIER, and IRENE MILLS
avishly illustrated with over 500 images, this book presents Olmsted’s design commissions for a wide range of projects. The rich collection of studies, lithographs, paintings, and historical photographs
depicts Olmsted’s planning for residential communities, regional and town plans, academic campuses,
grounds of public buildings, zoos, arboreta, and cemeteries. Focusing on living spaces designed to promote physical and mental well-being, the book showcases more than seventy of Olmsted’s designs, including the community of Riverside, IL; the Stanford University campus; the US Capitol grounds; the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893; the National Zoo; and George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate.
Illuminating Olmsted’s design theory, this volume displays the beautiful plans and reveals the
Master landscape architect
significance of each commission within his entire body of work. Readers concerned with the quality of the environment in which we live and work, as well as architects, landscape architects,
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903)
urban planners, historians, and preservationists, will find stimulating insights in Plans and Views
is renowned for his public parks,
of Communities and Private Estates.
but few know the extent of his accomplishment in meeting other needs of society.
Charles E. Beveridge (ALEXANDRIA, VA) is the leading Olmsted authority in the country and the series editor of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted. Lauren Meier (BELMONT, MA) is a landscape preservationist and a coeditor of The Master List of Design Projects of the Olmsted Firm, 1857–1979. Irene Mills (SPRINGFIELD, VA) is a landscape designer. Beveridge, Meier, and Mills are the coeditors of Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks.
FULL OF ORIGINAL PLANS AND HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS, THIS BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED COLLECTION IS THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE PRESENTATION OF OLMSTED’S DESIGN CONCEPTS FOR COMMUNITIES AND PRIVATE ESTATES.
“A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN LETTERS, AN IMPORTANT STEP IN THE DOCUMENTATION OF THIS AMERICAN GENIUS.”
“[S]UPERBLY DONE, REFLECTING CREDIT “[H]ANDSOMELY PRODUCED, AND THE ON BOTH THE EDITORS AND PUBLISHER. EDITORS HAVE PROVIDED THE EDITORIA NECESSARY ADDITION TO ALL AL SCAFFOLDING THAT HAS BECOME UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE LIBRARIES.” ONE OF THE MAJOR GLORIES OF —Smithsonian —Choice AMERICAN HISTORICAL SCHOLARSHIP.” —Maryland Historical Magazine
TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgments
Chapter Eleven Zoos and Arboreta
Chapter One Chapter Two
Chapter Seven Grounds of Government
Chapter Twelve Cemeteries and Memorials
List of Illustrations
Chapter Three Regional and Town Planning Chapter Four
Resorts and Hotels
and Public Buildings Chapter Eight Expositions Chapter Nine
List of Repositories Index
SWAMPSCOTT LAND TRUST SWAMPSCOTT, MASSACHUSETTS The town of Swampscott on the north shore of Boston, with its
Land Trust. Young Mudge had been killed while commanding the
rocky, hilly terrain, was a promising site for suburban residence.
Second Massachusetts Infantry Regiment at the battle of Gettys-
Olmsted’s opportunity to create a residential community there
burg. The Civil War theme continued in the entire eastern half of
came in 1888 on 130 acres of a former private estate, “Elmwood.”
the development, with streets named for famous Union generals
The founder of that estate, Enoch Redington Mudge, had amassed
and admirals as well as leading Civil War figures in Massachusetts.
his fortune in Boston while living in Swampscott. Commuting to
For the second time, by making a Civil War memorial the central
Boston was facilitated by a branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad.
element of his planning for a New England town, Olmsted paid rev-
Working with his stepson John C. Olmsted, now his partner, Olmsted planned streets that curved through the site, winding around the principal hills. A large rock outcropping back from the shore received special
erence, as he had at North Easton, to those who had sacrificed to preserve the Union. Olmsted’s design took full advantage of the special character of the terrain of the site, preserving the natural scenery and siting lots
treatment, being reserved as a public space. Olmsted organized the
for residences that fostered the pleasant suburban life he sought to
area between this “Outlook Rock” and the shore by a theme that
make possible. As with his residential community planning in the
gave a distinctive character to the entire subdivision. An allée,
region at the time, he proposed to use deed restrictions excluding
“Monument Avenue,” extended directly from Outlook Rock to the
commercial, industrial and other intrusive uses from the property.
harbor, terminating at a Civil War monument, an obelisk bearing
He and his partner, John C. Olmsted, also prepared extensive
the names of men from Swampscott who were killed in the war.
orders for plant materials for the Trust to use in planting streets and
Chief of these was Charles Redington Mudge, the son of the man
avenues, recommending ways to use plantings to preserve views of
who had created the estate being subdivided by the Swampscott
the countryside and the sea created by the street plan.
1.18. View of Swampscott harbor and beach on Nahant Bay, 1871
Lavishly illustrated. A visual feast.
1.19. General Plan for Swampscott Land Trust, 1888 (Plan 1053-11)
swampsCot t land tRust, swampsCot t, massaCHuset ts
1.22. Birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s-eye view of Newport, Rhode Island, 1878
Frederick Law Olmstedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s designs helped make many American cities great.
1.23. Selected Commissions of the Olmsted Firm in Newport, Rhode Island
newpoRt, RHode island
4.38. View of pavilion at end of Moraine Farm lawn, with fieldstone arch and grotto below and lower-level garden, c.Â 1881
4.39. View from Wenham Lake showing full extent of Moraine Farm terrace
Perhaps in response to Phillips’s reluctance to avoid landscape
An article in Garden and Forest of 1895 and an aerial photograph
gardening in the approach to his house, Olmsted relented at one
of 1929 show the extent of forest planting that was achieved, still
point in his intention to plant a forest right up to the mansion. He
leaving extensive open pasture land in areas to the west of the
proposed to have a more open space near the west side of the house
house and terrace where Olmsted had envisioned a forest of pine,
by planting groups of shade trees there, which he described as a
larch, birch and hickory that would represent “escape from the
“park-like treatment, leaving from 100 to 150 feet in which suffi-
farmer & the landscape gardener.”
cient light would fall on the ground to allow a fair close turf to be maintained . . . I should use chiefly elms & bass wood with a view to
17. FLO to Philips, March 6, 1882; Papers of FLO, 7: 591.
rapid lofty growth grouping with house, in views of it from the E., North & South,” he directed.17
4.40. Illustration published in Garden and Forest in 1895 showing Moraine Farm property. Extent of forest planting shown in green.
7.37. Elevations for Summer House by Thomas Wisedell, September 2, 1879 (Plan 2820-44)
442 Grounds of Government and Public buildinGs
Summer House In preparing the west grounds of the Capitol to improve the expe-
the sweeter fragrance of flowers.17 One opening with a metal screen
rience of approach from the city to the west, Olmsted designed a
overlooked a sunken alcove lined with rocks and planted with
unique feature—a structure that he called the Summer House. His
mosses and delicate ivies, producing an effect “suggestive of the
intent was to provide a resting place for visitors approaching the
coolness of a grotto and adapted to the growth of plants found in
Capitol during the hot summer months. The circular one-story build-
cool and moist situations.”18 To enhance an atmosphere of envelop-
ing of brick was set low into the hillside, all elements of its design
ment in foliage and shade, Olmsted planted trees overhanging the
focused on providing cool shade and refreshment. The interior of the
Summer House that gave it special character from their delicate
structure was open to the sky while bluestone seats ranged around its
and unusual foliage, including Cedrela sinensis and Aralia. The
center were sheltered from sun and rain by a tile roof. In the center
building was constructed of brick decorated with light tracery
stood a fountain offering the sight and sound of running water and
patterns designed by Thomas Wisedell. Olmsted piled earth and
opportunity for refreshment from water overflowing the fountain.
stones around the walls and covered them densely with ivy, ground
Olmsted engaged the Tiffany company to create a small carillon
cover and shrubs that made the structure recessive, rather than
run by the fountain’s overflow that produced “sounds suggestive
intrusive on the grounds and views of the Capitol.
of melody but not a tune and not so distinct as to be always distinguished above the tinkling and murmur of the water” flowing into the space below it.16 Wide screens of stone in the brick walls
16. FLO to Frederick H. Cobb, May 30, 1881; FLO Papers/LC, Box 19, Folder 7 (Reel 18: 372–73).
behind the bluestone seats opened the interior to breezes bearing
“a faint perfume, but suggestive rather of aromatic foliage” than
7.38. View of entrance to Summer House and central fountain
united states caPitol Grounds, WashinGton, district of columbia
The Court of Honor John Root’s compiled “Block Plan” that the architects agreed to
A later requirement was added, that the facades of these build-
adopt in early January 1891 established the grand central entrance
ings be uniformly white. This caused the resignation of William Pre-
court, which came to be called the “Court of Honor,” as a principal
tyman, the director of color for the Exposition, and led to popular
feature of the Exposition. As designed by the five leading archi-
designation of the Fair as the “White City.” Olmsted was surprised
tects to whom the exhibition buildings fronting on the court were
and disconcerted by this development. “The architects are going
assigned, the architectural effect of the court was remarkable. Under
to make it much whiter than, having regard to general effects of
Burnham’s leadership an impressive unity among the buildings was
landscape or scenery, I should have been disposed to have them,”
achieved by a uniform cornice height and employment of a single
he declared, “I fear that against the clear blue sky and the blue lake,
classical style, variously called “Francis I” or “Italian Renaissance.”
great towering masses of white, glistening in the clear, hot Summer
This choice led Olmsted to remark to his partners about the “grand,
sunlight of Chicago, with the glare of the water that we are to have
permanent monuments” that these structures of staff—a kind of
both within and without the Exposition grounds, will be overpower-
plaster of Paris—were to be constructed, expressing a concern that
ing.”9 His solution was one that he had already considered as a way
they were “going to look too assuming of architectural stateliness
to provide elements of variety and festivity for the Exposition.
and to be overburdened with sculptural and other efforts for grandeur and grandiloquent pomp.”8 After all, the purpose of the Fair was not to construct a city, but rather to erect a temporary stage-set
8. FLO, “Report to Partners on Exposition Universelle,” [April 25–29, 1892]; Papers of FLO, 9: 511.
for a festive celebration.
9. FLO to Rudolph Ulrich, March 11, 1893; Papers of FLO, 9: 606.
8.8. Bird’seye view of Exposition, 1893
More than 500 illustrations, photographs, and plans.
8.9. View of Court of Honor, looking eastward toward Lake Michigan
Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Columbian Exposition, ChiCago, illinois
DENVER & LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN RESORT JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLORADO In 1890 Olmsted was engaged to prepare a plan for the Denver &
In addition to roads and sidewalks, the resort company was to
Lookout Mountain Resort Company for its property on Lookout
provide a communal water system adequate for meeting the needs
Mountain west of Denver. His concern was to create a residential
of the residents, including irrigating the lush plantings that Olm-
community setting with attractively sited lots served by roads and
sted hoped to see established in the manner he proposed for nearby
sidewalks that secured pleasant and convenient circulation during
Lake Wauconda. The site considered for the reservoir was that of a
all seasons. Well-constructed paths leading to shelters at choice
present-day reservoir of the nearby city of Golden.
vista points would facilitate outdoor activity and enjoyment of the mountain scenery. No buildings were to be permitted at these points or that blocked the finest distant views. Olmsted and his
6. Frederick Law Olmsted to Archie Campbell Fisk, April 21, 1890; Papers of FLO, 9: 99.
partners located many of the lots on the headland now occupied by Colorow Point Park overlooking the city of Golden between Chimney Canyon and a deep canyon on the west that descends 1,500 feet to Clear Creek. A separate section of lots was located south of the terminal station of the company’s railroad that ran between Denver and Lookout Mountain. A hotel to serve day-trippers arriving by the railroad was planned close to the station, while a group of shops next to the station was to provide for their shopping needs. The hotel was to be set on a low hill with a view down the canyon to Clear Creek. Its appearance was to be consistent with Olmsted’s desire to achieve a rugged, rustic atmosphere for the resort, in contrast to something appropriate for a suburban or urban situation. The hotel was to be constructed “with a rustic exterior of the native stone” that lay scattered nearby. It should be no more than two stories high and “solid, substantial and plain.”6 Its grounds were to be arranged to encourage guests to spend their time outdoors.
this volume displays the beautiful plans and reveals the significance of each commission within Olmsted’s entire body of work.
9.17. Birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s-eye view showing relation of Denver & Lookout Mountain Resort to Denver, with connecting railroad, c.1890. The proposed resort is located at center left.
denver & lookout mountain reSort, JefferSon Count y, Colorado
To increase the pleasure offered by the scenic beauty of the
Much of Cushing’s island had suffered from the deforestation
common land, Olmsted recommended construction of rustic shel-
that had so distressed Olmsted concerning the Boston Harbor
ters at special spots for protection from rain and sun. To prevent
islands when he sought to secure them for public access and enjoy-
concentration of buildings that would adversely affect the expe-
ment, proposing a program of reforestation to improve their scenic
rience of natural scenery, large private lots of from four to seven
character. He found the northern part of Cushing’s island “bare
acres were to be ranged near the shore on the north and south sides
and bleak of aspect,” and proposed to line the new roads shown in
of the island, with restrictions requiring that buildings be placed at
his plan with trees and low hedges and thickets of shrubbery. He
least five hundred feet apart. Thus separated, the houses on large
looked forward to restoring parts of the “old natural growth” of
lots should be no higher than two stories and their lower stories
spruce and fir and commented favorably on the sheltered valleys
should be constructed of local stone. He directed that “no fence or
of willows that were a notable part of the landscape.
other structure shall be placed between them and the sea, except of rough local stone.”
9.7. John Calvin Stevens, “Sketch for a Summer
9.8. View showing rock outcroppings and
Residence, Cushing’s Island,” c.1883
deforested conditions on Cushing’s Island
494 Summer CommunitieS
covers design commissions for iconic u.s. landmarks and decadent private gardens.
9.9. Willows on Cushingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Island, 1889
CuShingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S iSland, CaSCo Bay, maine
10.7. View of bath houses along Central Avenue, Hot Springs, 1888
Army and Navy Hospital is the large, square building at far right. Large building at far left is New Arlington Hotel where Fountain Avenue meets Central Avenue. Wide, open “park” area shown in front of bath houses. “Ramble” area behind bath houses shown as turf and wooded hillside with steam columns from scattered hot springs.
10.8. View southward from Eastman Hotel, 1901, with Army and Navy Hospital and Hot Springs Mountain at right, bath houses and Central Avenue at left
ResoRts and Hotels
HOT SPRINGS RESERVATION HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS The Hot Springs Reservation in Arkansas was created by Congress
be available. He also wished to improve what he referred to as the
in 1832 to preserve public access to the hot mineral springs there
“park” between the bath houses and Central Avenue, a sixty-foot-
that were valued for their healing and health-promoting qualities.
wide open space. His concern was with providing outdoor recre-
By the time of Olmsted’s involvement beginning in 1892, the sig-
ation, promenading, shopping and relaxing in gardens. He antic-
nificant element of the reservation was a quarter-mile-long strip
ipated a need for an “open gallery, hall or portico” for concerts or
of privately operated bath houses, a government-operated bath
exercise during inclement weather. While the area of bath houses
house, and a military hospital ranged along Central Avenue on the
on the side of Hot Springs Mountain was his primary focus, he
east side of Hot Springs Mountain. A program of improvements was
wished to consider construction of new drives and other facilities
begun at that time by the department of the interior, and the officer
on both North Mountain and West Mountain.8
in charge of managing the program was Lieutenant Robert Stevens. Secretary of the Interior John W. Noble took a close interest, as shown by his instructions to Stevens: he was to “make the reservation attractive and accessible to invalids and visitors desiring and
8. Secretary John W. Noble, Department of the Interior, to Lieutenant Robert R. Stevens, U.S. Army, May 31, 1892; Olmsted Associates Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Series B, Reel 59: 441-42.
needing exercise” that would supplement their experience of the hot baths at the springs. Noble emphasized the importance of constructing paths for the purpose, leaving the issue of constructing carriage drives to an assessment of whether funds for them would
Hot spRings ReseRvation, Hot spRings, aRkansas
F R E D E R I C K L AW
Plans and Views of Communities and Private Estates
EDITED BY CHARLES E. BEVERIDGE, LAUREN MEIER , AND IRENE MILLS
PUBLICATION DATE OCTOBER 2020 978-1-4214-3867-2 $74.95 £55.50 hc 608 pages 11 x 11 12 color photos, 258 color illus., 210 b&w photos, 49 b&w illus.
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“BEVERIDGE, THE PREEMINENT OLMSTED SCHOLAR . . . GATHERS IN A SUMPTUOUS, GORGEOUS VOLUME THE DESIGNS THAT DEFINED WHAT MADE MANY AMERICAN CITIES GREAT, AND LIVABLE.”—Harvard Magazine