In 2016 the Friends of Fairsted and the National Park Service launched a project to create a Reading Room for visitors at Fairsted, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. This room, located in the former family library at Fairsted, Olmsted’s home and office, honors the memory of Caroline Loughlin, a Friends of Fairsted founding member, whose family foundation gave a generous donation for the project. Established to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the Olmsted firm’s role in its creation, the Friend’s initial goal was to acquire 100 books offering an expansive view of the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted and of the diverse work of the Olmsted firm over its century of practice, as well as more general garden and landscape history books relevant to the Olmsted’s work. This collection has continued to grow over the past years serving as a complement to the interpretive exhibits of the Olmsted site as well as the Olmsted Archives. The comfortably furnished Reading Room serves as a pleasant place for leisurely reading and short-term research for visitors after they have taken a tour of the exhibits and grounds. A small computer station, with links to websites devoted to Olmsted research, is available for use.
Before the National Park Service acquired Fairsted in 1980, the Olmsted firm’s office library was an essential resource for its work, with books, periodicals, and other material used for research and inspiration. The new Reading Room does not replicate the original library, but contains a collection of books that reflects the proliferation of new titles that have emerged over the past forty years on Frederick Law Olmsted, his sons John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., their partners and collaborators, and the work of the Olmsted firm. The collection includes the multivolume set of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as biographies of Olmsted Sr. and principals of the firm such as Charles Eliot, Warren Manning, and Arthur Shurcliff. Visitors will find books on individual Olmsted-designed parks: Central Park; Boston’s Emerald Necklace; and the Portland, Maine; Buffalo and Los Angeles park systems. It includes regional Olmsted studies as well as books on the greater context of landscape architecture in the United States. Several books written specifically for children are included. The scope and individual titles for the Reading Room collection are selected by a committee comprised of members of the interpretive and curatorial staff of Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and the Friends of Fairsted. A list of titles in this growing collection will be available soon.
The Friends of Fairsted invite you to visit Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and enjoy this new addition. The Reading Room is open to the public during the NPS operating hours at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
Donate to Fairsted Reading Room
Your gift to support the Reading Room can be donated online or by check. Please make your check payable to Friends of Fairsted with a note of Fairsted Reading Room on the memo line and mail to: Friends of Fairsted, Reading Room Project, c/o Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, 99 Warren Street, Brookline, MA 02445.
This project was made possible with major support provided by the Caroline Loughlin Fund of Vanguard Charitable, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, and the Library of American Landscape History. A complete list of supporters will be included in the 2017 annual report.