Join the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a fascinating presentation by Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Justin will highlight Olmsted’s travels to England while he lived at Tosomock Farm on Staten Island, and his subsequent writings about these travels. Olmsted departed from Staten Island for a walking tour of England in April 1850, returned in October, and both wrote (1851) and published (1852) his observations in Walks and Talks of an American farmer in England while on Staten Island. Justin will discuss how these travels influenced Olmsted’s social thinking and landscape designs.
Concrete is the world’s most ubiquitous building material, and many important milestones of its development took place in Brooklyn. In this virtual program, we will examine concrete’s history, production, and chemistry, then discuss some of the landmark structures that drove the development of steel-reinforced concrete in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From Gowanus to DUMBO, Prospect Park to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we will look at monumental buildings and small details designed by some renowned architects, including Cass Gilbert, Albert Kahn, and Calvert Vaux.
- John C. Goodridge (1874) Beton-Coignet: A Description of the Material and its Uses in France and America
- Histoire de la maison Coignet (1900)
- Turner Construction (1919) A Record of War Activities
- “Pouring Concrete: The Brooklyn Navy Yard Prepares for War”
- Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation
- “Alternative materials could shrink concrete’s giant carbon footprint” (Chemical & Engineering News)
Though often overlooked due to his association with Frederick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux is an important figure in American architecture in his own right. A classically-trained architect, talented artist, and collaborator with landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing, he had already done major projects before working with Olmsted on Central Park, and would continue to design parks and public buildings after their partnership dissolved. To mark Vaux’ 197th birthday, we will examine his 40-year career in New York City, his distinctive architectural style, and his legacy of designing buildings and landscapes for the public good, including museums, parks both large and small, and housing for the poor.
- Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance
- Olana State Historic Site
- Prospect Park Alliance
- Calvert Vaux (1857) Villas and Cottages (Open Library)
- “Sketches from Prospect Park, Brooklyn,” Manufacturer and Builder, May 1870
- Andrew Jackson Downing, “A Talk about Public Parks and Gardens,” The Horticulturist, Oct 1848
- Francis R. Kowsky (2003) Country, Park, & City: The Architecture and Life of Calvert Vaux
- WATCH: Restoring the Concert Grove Pavilion
Join Turnstile Tours and the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a virtual panel discussion to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Frederick Law Olmsted’s report for the Staten Island Improvement Commission, a comprehensive plan for the island’s growth and development. We will hear unique perspectives about Staten Island in the late 1800s, Olmsted’s public health recommendations, and his legacy in the greenest borough of New York City. The panel will include Prof. Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Director of Graduate Landscape Architecture Program at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture; Jessica Kratz of the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center; naturalist Ed Johnson, emeritus curator of science at the Staten Island Museum; and moderated by Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours.
Built in 1874, the Concert Grove Pavilion is a stunning example of Prospect Park co-designer Calvert Vaux’ colorful and decorative style. Earlier this year, the Prospect Park Alliance completed a $2 million restoration of the pavilion, which was last restored in 1988. Joined by Prospect Park Alliance Assistant Architect Sheena Enriquez, we will look closely at the pavilion’s beautiful details, including its cast iron columns that contain motifs borrowed from Hindu, Chinese, Moorish, and Egyptian architecture, its elaborate roof finials and eaves, and its newly-illuminated stained glass ceiling. Sheena will share how the restoration team did extensive archival research, conducted color testing to match the pavilion’s original design, and repaired and recreated damaged or missing pieces.
- WATCH Restoring the Endale Arch
- “Return to Splendor” (Architectural Record)
- Become a Prospect Park Alliance member
Prospect Park Alliance recently completed the restoration of the Endale Arch, one of the original portals to the park designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. Get an insider’s look at the restoration process, which required years of research, incredibly skilled craftspeople, and painstakingly detailed work to bring the arch back to its original splendor. We will be joined by Sarena Rabinowitz, Assistant Architect, Design & Construction at the Alliance about the years-long, multi-phase process to restore the full arch, and Curtis Barnhart of Barnhart Restoration & Design, which did the restoration work on the stunning interior. We will also go live to the arch itself to see these wonderful details up close. This program is offered in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance, and the arch restoration was generously funded by the Tiger Baron Foundation, with additional support from Council Member Brad Lander through District 39 participatory budgeting.
Join us for a virtual exploration of Prospect Park’s waterways. We will look closely at the ingenious drainage system and chain of manmade streams and ponds that terminate in Brooklyn’s largest lake, follow the park’s scenic watercourse, and go inside one of the most unique features of the park: the 1869 Wellhouse, the park’s last remaining building by park designer Calvert Vaux, which once housed the machinery that fueled the watercourse and was recently restored by the Prospect Park Alliance and converted into the first composting restrooms in a NYC park.
Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted are best known for designing landmark landscapes in New York City and across the country, most notably Prospect Park and Central Park. Both men had wildly different lives and careers before their collaboration began, and yet they found incredible chemistry and creative energy together, though later their lives again diverged. This program will look closely at the biographies of both men and how their life experiences and outlooks are reflected in the spaces they created together.
- Frederick Law Olmsted Papers in the Library of Congress
- National Association for Olmsted Parks
- Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted (2012)
- WATCH: Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America (PBS)