Find out at a lecture at Samford University, Thursday, October 20th by the president of the White House Historical Association, Stewart McLaurin. Tickets go on sale October 15th HERE
Stewart McLaurin is the president of the White House Historical Association. He will speak at Samford on Thursday evening, October 20. His topic will be James Hoban, the Irish born designer and builder of the White House, and the skilled Europeans, enslaved workers, and free laborers who built the White House.
Consulting producer on the PBS film, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America, Cotton had not only visited, but was often intimately familiar with many of the Olmsted projects he discussed. His slides traveled the audience across America, giving the history, motivation, and importance of each of the parks and green spaces. Many are well-known and include:
The Biltmore Estate
Central Park in NYC
The Capitol Grounds and The Washington Mall
The Great White City – Chicago
Boston’s Emerald Necklace
Prospect Park in Brooklyn
Cotton emphasized the social importance of the Olmsted legacy. The green spaces and parks were designed to be available to all walks of life, to enhance the health and well-being of visitors, to encourage social engagement across economic & cultural divides, to provide forestry and landscape experiments, and to stand the test of time. As he stated, Frederick Law Olmsted and his sons were true artists of the landscape, while working on a vast scale, in FOUR dimensions, with the fourth being time…to allow their design visions to mature over decades.
However, their public spaces were not always green, as Cotton illustrated by Olmsted’s plan for the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. There, Olmsted’s step design again encouraged democracy and provided an open forum for public engagement.
As another example, their design for Niagra Falls restored and enhanced the beauty that was already there. Before and after images were startling.
The evening lecture at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens entitled, Celebrating Olmsted with Historian Laurence Cotton, on February 16th, filled overnight. In an effort to accommodate all those with an interest in attending, an additional lecture has been added at 10AM. Registration opens to the public at 5PM on Wednesday, January 19th.