Olmsted Brothers

The Olmsted Brothers company was an influential landscape architectural firm in the United States, formed in 1898 by brothers John Charles Olmsted (1852–1920) and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (1870–1957), who were the sons of the eminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.


The Olmsted brothers inherited the nation's first landscape architecture business from their father Frederick Law Olmsted. This firm was a successor to the earlier firm of Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot after the death of their partner Charles Eliot in 1897. The two brothers were among the founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and played an influential role in creating the National Park Service. Prior to their takeover of the firm, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. had worked as an apprentice under his father, helping to design projects such as Biltmore Estate and the World's Columbian Exposition before graduating from Harvard University. The firm employed nearly 60 staff at its peak in the early 1930s. Notable landscape architects in the firm included James Frederick Dawson and Percival Gallagher.[1][2] The last Olmsted family member in the firm, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., retired in 1949.[3] The firm itself remained in operation, moving from Brookline in 1980 and continuing in Fremont, NH until 2000. This created one continuous firm from 1858-2000.[4]

Office and archives

"Fairsted", the firm's 100-year-old business headquarters and design office, has been carefully preserved as the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, located on 7 acres (2.833 ha) of landscaped grounds at 99 Warren St., Brookline, Massachusetts. It offers excellent insights into the practice of large-scale landscape design and engineering. The site also houses an archive (access by appointment only) of the firm's designs, plant lists, and photos for hundreds of projects.

Design work

The Olmsted Brothers completed numerous high-profile projects, many of which remain popular to this day, including park systems, universities, exposition grounds, libraries, hospitals, residential neighborhoods and state capitols. Notable commissions include the roadways in the Great Smoky Mountains and Acadia National Parks, Yosemite Valley, Atlanta's Piedmont Park, a residential neighborhood in Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada: Uplands; entire park systems in cities such as Portland and Seattle,[5] and Washington state's Northern State Hospital. The Olmsted Brothers also co-authored, with Harland Bartholomew, a 1930 report for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce entitled "Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region" encouraging the preservation of outdoor public space in southern California.[6] The report was largely ignored by the city, but became an important urban planning reference.

Selected private and civic designs

Campus designs


  1. "Percival Gallagher". The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  2. "Percival Gallagher". Smithsonian Institution Research Information System: Archives, Manuscripts and Photographs Catalog. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  3. Valerie Easton (27 April 2003). "Masters Of Green". The Seattle Times. seattletimes.com. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  4. Filler, Martin (November 5, 2015). "America's Green Giant". New York Review of Books. 62 (17): 16. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  5. David B. Williams (May 2, 1999). "The Olmsted Legacy -- The Fabled Massachusetts Landscape Firm Got To Seattle Early, And That Has Made All The Difference". The Seattle Times. seattletimes.com. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  6. Hise, Greg; Deverell, William (7 June 2000). Eden by Design: The 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Plan for the Los Angeles Region. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22415-5.
  7. Simon Romero, Sandra La Fuente P. contributor (27 December 2010). "A Venezuelan Oasis of Elitism Counts Its Days". The New York Times. p. A1 NY ed. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  8. "Company Timeline". Kohler Company.
  9. Cheri Goldner. "The History of Metro Parks". Summit Metro Parks. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  10. "Oldfields – Lilly House & Gardens". Indianapolis Museum of Art. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  11. "The battle over Prouty Garden is not over - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  12. Jean P. Yearby, Historic American Engineering Record No. NJ-55, "Rahway River Park, Swimming Pool," 1985.
  13. http://www.hartford.gov/parks/204-riverside-park
  14. Williams, David B. "A brief history of Seattle's Olmstead legacy". City of Seattle. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  15. Kershner, Jim (July 18, 2007). "Olmstead parks in Spokane". HistoryLink.org. Washington State History. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  16. Cotton, Laurence. "John Charles Olmsted in the Pacific Northwest". PBS.org. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  17. Troy University (1930)
  18. Crimson View, Grove City College Office of Admissions, p. 7
  19. "Huntingdon History". Huntingdon College. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  20. "The Old Crescent". Indiana Historic Landscapes Alliance. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  21. "History of LSU". Louisiana State University. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  22. Geoffrey Blodgett (11 May 1995). "The Grand March of Oberlin campus plans". Observer. Oberlin College. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  23. "The Ohio State University". Campus Heritage Network. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  24. "Report on Oregon Agricultural College" (PDF). Oregon State University. 1 October 1909. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  25. "Campus planning history". University of Idaho. (Facilities Services). Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  26. "History of the University of Idaho". University of Idaho. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  27. "About Montevallo:UM Quick Facts". University of Montevallo. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  28. "Original 1904 Planting Plan for the Western State Normal School". Western Michigan University. Retrieved 2012-04-12.

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