Virtual talk highlights Olmstead legacy

PUTNEY — The Putney Public Library will present a talk by Ann McEntee on Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.

Olmsted designed our first city parks, park systems, and model suburban communities. He promoted environmentalism and the subsequent creation of the national park system. Greatly influenced by his New England upbringing, Olmsted instilled in us a love of our American landscapes.

This talk begins with a brief overview of Olmsted's early life here in New England and his numerous jobs before partnering with the architect, Calvert Vaux, to design Central Park. These various jobs were significant in that each of them taught him skills that served him well in his work as a landscape architect.

The talk then turns to two of his New England works, the “Emerald Necklace” in Boston and Shelburne Farms in Vermont, that display his fundamental design principles and techniques.

Boston's park system reveals Olmsted's sensitivity to the growing city and the need to “green” it through parkland and parkways.

Shelburne Farms, one of his two contributions to the Country Place/Estate Movement, presents additional design strategies while underscoring his fundamental design principle, “look to the genius of the place.” Through both works, we can understand how the majestic scenery of New England shaped and then directed his work as a designer of great landscapes.

McEntee is a former communications and theatre professor. She left teaching to earn a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of New Mexico. While living in Santa Fe, she earned her certification as a master gardener, and more recently, her Advanced Master Gardener certification.

Ann currently teaches architectural and landscape history for Keene State College's CALL (Cheshire Academy for Lifelong Learning) program and works part-time as a landscape consultant. The former lead gardener at the Cathedral of the Pines, she presents garden talks to area townships and organizations.

The free talk is intended for a general audience, but pays particular attention to the interests of gardeners and those interested in exploring these Olmsted sites with family and friends. Email the library for a link to the Zoom presentation at [email protected].

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