Oheka Castle, Huntington, Long Island, NY

A Wonderful Weekend of Olmsted on Long Island

What’s Out There Weekend: Olmsted On Long Island, organized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) in partnership with Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, was held on the weekend of October 22nd and 23rd, following a stimulating two-day symposium held at the arboretum. Both the symposium, Situating the Residential Projects of the Olmsted Firm, and What’s Out There Weekend: Olmsted on Long Island were organized by TCLF to honor the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., capping a year of commemorative programming. The What’s Out There Weekend, TCLF’s 23rd such event, was marked by the publication of a 40-page guidebook, authored by symposium speaker Arleyn Levee, that features a dozen landscapes designed by Olmsted, Sr., and his successor firms between the 1880s and the 1930s.

Lecture at Planting Fields, Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY
Lecture at Planting Fields, Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY - Photo by Roger Crum, 2022

The symposium included panels and presentations by notable landscape architects, landscape historians, and historic preservation professionals. Scholar John Dixon Hunt commenced the symposium with a keynote address that probed the notion of “place-making.” After, attendees were treated to several captivating presentations, including one by TCLF President and CEO, Charles Birnbaum and another by renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin. Many of the presentations are available to view on the Planting Field Foundation’s webpage. The event was followed by a reception to thank the speakers and tour guides who graciously offered their time and knowledge to the symposium and the What’s Out There Weekend. Attendees had the opportunity to meet all three authors (Charles A. Birnbaum, Arleyn Levee, and Dena Tasse-Winter) of TCLF’s recently released book, Experiencing Olmsted: The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s North American Landscapes, published by Timber Press in September.

Reception at La Selva, Brookville, Long Island, NY
Reception at La Selva, Brookville, Long Island, NY - Photo by Charles A. Birnbaum, 2022

The weekend of free, expert-led tours was kicked off on a sunny yet brisk Saturday morning with a tour of Locust Valley Cemetery led by Amy Driscoll. Soon after, Patricia O’Donnell, the principal and founder of Heritage Landscapes, LLC, (who also presented at the symposium) assembled a large group in front of Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum before guiding the attendees throughout the extensive state historic park, expertly conveying the vision of its designers. Other tours held on Saturday morning included Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve and Dosoris Cemetery, led by Jessica Brassler and John Melillo, respectively. The afternoon tours continued to be met with sunny skies and eager attendees. Attendees of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory tour were treated to views of verdant rolling lawns, stately trees, and Ospreys soaring overhead. Additional afternoon tours included the Memorial Cemetery of St. Johns Church, led by Patricia O’Donnell; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Campus, guided by Daniel Miller; The Creek, led by Thomas Dunne; and Nassau County Courthouse led by Daniel G. Looney. One What's Out There Weekend attendee wrote, “it was a wonderful experience. Sorry we didn't attend more. Will definitely be revisiting these sites.”

Planting Fields, Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY
Planting Fields, Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY - Photo by Allan Greller, 2022

Sunday began with a tour of Bayard Cutting Arboretum, led by Kevin Wiecks, followed by Munsey Park Incorporated Village, led by Andrew Cronson. At Welwyn Preserve, Jolanta Zamecka led the many attendees through the property’s garden and wooded trails leading from the mansion to the Long Island Sound. The majority of the tours offered throughout the weekend were fully booked, including the last four: Lattingtown Gold Coast Estate, led by Henry P. Davison III; La Selva, led by Debra Del Vecchio; Conklin Amphitheater (Seminary of the Immaculate Conception), guided by Bruce Baumann and Stephen Ubertini; and Oheka Castle, led by Paul Mateyunas. After the tour of Lattingtown Gold Coast Estate, one attendee wrote, “I've toured many Long Island estates. By far, this was the best one because it was led by Mr. Davison, who is a historian and phenomenal storyteller. Thank you for curating this event!”

Cold Spring Harbor Labs, Long Island, NY
Cold Spring Harbor Labs, Long Island, NY - Photo by Allan Greller, 2022

What's Out There Weekend: Olmsted on Long Island was made possible with the support of Planting Fields Foundation, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, as well as the tireless efforts of Olmsted scholar, Arleyn Levee who researched and authored the accompanying guidebook. Levee was instrumental in bringing a dozen Olmsted designed landscapes to life, broadening the visibility of each. The What’s Out There Olmsted On Long Island guidebook is available for purchase or viewable as a free PDF on the TCLF website.