In 1851, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux first met at Andrew Downing’s home, Highland Gardens, in Newburgh, NY. Drawn together by a shared aesthetic and democratic vision, the three pursued careers often centered around Hudson River landscapes and architecture. In addition to Downing Park, their final collaboration, Olmsted and Vaux worked on a range of projects across the region, together and individually. 

From September 13-15, the Olmsted Network’s annual conference will explore the lives and varied works of these individuals.  

On Friday, we’ll kick things off in style at the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson. Designed by Vaux and owner Frederic Church, this hilltop estate has stunning views of the river Church loved to paint. After a tour and lecture, there will be a cocktail reception on the piazza.  

Saturday will be spent in and around the city of Newburgh. Distinguished lecturers, Frank Kowsky (SUNY) and Sara Zewde (Harvard), will deliver keynotes on the local park’s history and Olmsted’s role as a social reformer and designer. During a working lunch with local and federal officials, we will discuss the importance of thriving parks for neighborhood revitalization. The afternoon will be spent in the park itself and with a bus tour of other key sites around town. 

The final day of the conference will be spent on Vassar College’s campus, exploring how landscape design can advance physical and mental well-being. In addition to lectures on the college’s history, we will discuss the Hudson River State Hospital, designed by Olmsted and Vaux, and the challenges faced in trying to preserve it. The afternoon will feature a selection of tours, and the day will be capped off with our awards dinner at the Vassar College Alumnae House. 

More details coming soon! Have questions? Email us at

Registration will open in May.