Frederick Law Olmsted from JohnsHopkins University Press

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F R E D E R I C K L AW

OLMSTED

Plans and Views of Communities and Private Estates

EDITED BY CHARLES E. BEVERIDGE, LAUREN MEIER , AND IRENE MILLS


FREDERICK LAW

OLMSTED Plans and Views of Communities and Private Estates

edited by CHARLES E. BEVERIDGE, LAUREN MEIER, and IRENE MILLS

L

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 Five

Academic Campuses

Chapter Ten

Introduction

Chapter Six

Residential Institutions

Chapter Eleven Zoos and Arboreta

Chapter One Chapter Two

Residential Communities

Chapter Seven Grounds of Government

Chapter Twelve Cemeteries and Memorials

Industrial Areas

List of Illustrations

Chapter Three Regional and Town Planning Chapter Four

Resorts and Hotels

Private Estates

and Public Buildings Chapter Eight Expositions Chapter Nine

Summer Communities

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

16

Residential Communities


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

17


1.22. Bird’s-eye view of Newport, Rhode Island, 1878

22

Residential Communities


Frederick Law Olmsted’s designs helped make many American cities great.

1.23. Selected Commissions of the Olmsted Firm in Newport, Rhode Island

newpoRt, RHode island

23


4.38. View of pavilion at end of Moraine Farm lawn, with fieldstone arch and grotto below and lower-level garden, c. 1881

4.39. View from Wenham Lake showing full extent of Moraine Farm terrace

180

Private estates


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

17. Ibid.

“a faint perfume, but suggestive rather of aromatic foliage” than

18. Ibid.

7.38. View of entrance to Summer House and central fountain

united states caPitol Grounds, WashinGton, district of columbia

443


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

468


More than 500 illustrations, photographs, and plans.

8.9. View of Court of Honor, looking eastward toward Lake Michigan

World’s Columbian Exposition, ChiCago, illinois

469


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.

504

Summer CommunitieS

this volume displays the beautiful plans and reveals the significance of each commission within Olmsted’s entire body of work.


9.17. Bird’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

505


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 Cushing’s Island, 1889

CuShing’S iSland, CaSCo Bay, maine

495


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

516

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

517


F R E D E R I C K L AW

OLMSTED

Plans and Views of Communities and Private Estates

EDITED BY CHARLES E. BEVERIDGE, LAUREN MEIER , AND IRENE MILLS

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