Brookline, MA
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site  
Brookline, Massachusetts
United States

Fairsted— now called the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site— houses a massive collection of approximately 1,000,000 working documents.

About Fairsted

Frederick Law Olmsted established Fairsted in Brookline, MA, in 1883, moving his family from the hustle and bustle of New York City to be closer to his friend Henry Hobson Richardson and important Boston-area work. The modest 1810 farmhouse, situated on a rustic 1.75 acres of land, served not only as the family’s primary residence but also as the first full-scale professional office of landscape architecture. There, Olmsted, his sons and their successors created plans for approximately 6,000 landscape projects. Fairsted provided a place of training for young professionals in the field throughout the firm’s history.

Although Fairsted was a relatively small property, the Olmsteds took advantage of every inch of space to showcase key Olmsted landscape design principles and elements— curvilinear paths, the balance of shadow and sun, layered plant material, borrowed views and sequencing. Fairsted sat adjacent to an open lawn which contrasted with the dense plantings near the house. Vines and evergreen shrubs covered the façade.

The legacy of Olmsted and the firm remain an important narrative in American history. In 1979, through a Congressional act, the National Park Service acquired the home, office, cultural landscape and extraordinary archive of approximately 1,000,000 working documents. By 1990, NPS staff had begun a 14-year project to catalog and conserve the historic plans and drawings for public accessibility. About 15 years later, the park service began comprehensively to digitize the collection, with the digitization of other key archival collections closely following.

Today, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site welcomes visitors for enjoyment and respite— and if they’re interested, a tour or two. The restored cultural landscape is open year-round and facilitated programs are offered on a seasonal basis.


    NPS/Olmsted NHS

    NPS/Olmsted NHS

    Charlie Beveridge at Fairsted

    NPS/Olmsted NHS

    NPS/Olmsted NHS


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