Activities and Projects

2016-2018 SAAM Expansion Project in Volunteer Park

Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks has been involved in reviewing proposed plans for the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion project. In two letters to the Landmarks Board in 2016, the first letter of June 23, 2016, and a second letter on October 4, 2016, FSOP outlined our concerns about the loss of park land, the need to effectively integrate any modifications into the surrounding park, and the impact the project would have on users. FSOP will continue to provide responses to the Landmarks Board’s plans as presented.

FSOP advocates for the preservation of the Olmsted-designed landscape in Volunteer Park and is working to help the museum find a solution that meets their needs and protects the historic landscape and parkland that surrounds it. In February 2017, FSOP sought to clarify its intended involvement in the review process for the SAAM proposed museum expansion. The FSOP Board outlined its goals in this letter to the Superintendent of the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, Jesús Aguirre.

2016 Historic Boulevards and Linear Parks Workshop

In 2016 FSOP joined the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (SPR), and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) to look at Seattle's historic cultural boulevards which are jointly managed by these City departments. Other NGOs, academics and design professionals also attended this charrette. The goal was to identify how boulevards can function equitably as both parks and transportation for all. The participants worked towards identifying design principles and principles of collaboration and to build the skills and shared knowledge among the key stakeholders to be used in future collaborations involving the Seattle boulevard system regarding development and community involvement. This final report, The Promise of Seattle Boulevards, shares the information presented at the charrette and summarizes the discussions regarding the issues and possible solutions to managing historic boulevards effectively.

Olmsted Correspondence Accessible Online at Washington State Archives

FSOP, working in conjunction with the Washington State Archives, has indexed correspondence related to 29 of the Olmsted Brothers firm's Seattle projects. More than 1,200 documents have been scanned and indexed and can now be accessed via the Washington State Digital Archives. The indexing allows users to search the correspondence by job number, job name, author or recipient, landscape feature type, document type, and topics, people, or organizations. The work was done by FSOP volunteers and indexers funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation as part of the Section 106 mitigation agreed upon for the SR520 Bridge Replacement and HOV project. We'd like to thank Mary Hammer, Michael Dwyer, and June Timmons from the Washington State Archives for their assistance in developing an indexing system and creating the online interface for the project. FSOP like to thank Anne Knight, Jennifer Ott, Olivia Johnson, Marta Olson, and Adrienne Sharigian for their work on the project. The archives are available here.


October 2016 Letter to Landmarks Board re: SAAM in Volunteer Park

FSOP sent this letter on October 4, 2016 to the Landmarks Board to express our concerns about the proposed expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

June 2016 Letter to Landmarks Board re: SAAM in Volunteer Park

FSOP sent this letter on June 23, 2016 to the Landmarks Board to express our concerns about the proposed expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Mount Baker Town Center Fact Sheet (DOC)

Information about the need for open space and a better connection between Cheasty and Mount Baker boulevards. Prepared by the Friends of Mount Baker Town Center. UPDATED: 6/3/2015

"Seattle's Olmsted Landscape Heritage," Puget Soundings, April 1986

An article written by then-FSOP President Nancy Becker about Seattle's Olmsted legacy and the early activities of FSOP.

Volunteer Park Landmark Nomination (pdf)

In 2009, FSOP prepared a successful city landmark nomination for Volunteer Park. The nomination has a history of the park and its Olmsted design, photographs, drawings, a timeline of significant events, and a bibliography.

Online Resources

"John Charles Olmsted in the Pacific Northwest"

Laurence Cotton wrote this article about John Charles Olmsted's work in the Pacific Northwest for the website developed for the PBS documentary Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America. It provides an excellent background in the work John Charles did in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.

Celebrating our Olmsted Legacy Olmsted Park Centennial

In this 2003 video, produced by the Seattle Channel for the celebration of Seattle's Olmsted park and boulevard system centennial, learn about the legacy of the Olmsted Brothers.

Revitalization of Olmsted Parks - Lecture by Thomas Herrera-Mishler

Thomas Herrera-Mishler came to Town Hall Seattle on September 9, 2014 to talk about the revitalization of Buffalo, New York's Olmsted-designed park system. As director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, he has led the effort to restore historic landscapes and elements of the built environment in the parks. [This link takes you to YouTube]


The Arboretum Foundation's mission is to protect and enhance the green space and plant collection of the Arboretum, located within Washington Park, an Olmsted Park. The Arboretum flanks Lake Washington Boulevard, also a part of the Olmsted system. FSOP works closely with project designers providing guidance to ensure that the Olmsted character is retained and reinforced in a project's design. Recent projects reviewed by FSOP are the new lighting along Lake Washington Boulevard and the north entry design (as part of the SR 520 project).


Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks) has many Olmsted parks and boulevards within its 6,000 acre park system. Parks seeks guidance from FSOP on capital projects to ensure that the Olmsted design and character of the parks are preserved. FSOP also advocates for Seattle parks and weighs in on city-wide issues that could affect Olmsted parks and boulevards, including the expansion of the SR520 Bridge and the Bicycle Master Plan.

Volunteer Park Trust

The Volunteer Park Trust is an organization that was formed to fully realize the dream for Seattle’s crown jewel, the Olmsted-designed Volunteer Park. Affiliated with FSOP, the Trust works to increase activity in the park, educate the public about the park's history and its current challenges, and work with the Parks Department to rehabilitate and protect the park's infrastructure and landscape.

Olmsted Research Guide Online

The Olmsted Research Guide Online (ORGO) is an online database of information about existing records relating to landscape design and planning work of Frederick Law Olmsted, his sons, John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted Junior and the design firms that bear their names. It is most easily searched by job number, which can be found on OlmstedOnline.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Also known as Fairsted, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site preserves and interprets historic structures, grounds and collections associated with the professional design office of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and the Olmsted firm. It is home to the Olmsted Archives.

National Association for Olmsted Parks

The NAOP website has a wealth of information about Olmsted-designed landscapes across the country. It also features in-depth essays about the Olmsteds and their design principles and news about preservation efforts that are underway.

Olmsted Online features information for more than 200 private and public Olmsted projects across Washington State, and thousands of other landscapes throughout North America, from the grounds of public institutions to private residences, university campuses, arboreta, playgrounds and more.

Historic Documents

Olmsted Brothers Park and Boulevard Plans for Seattle

The Olmsted Brothers firm's plans for Seattle's park and boulevard system in 1903 and 1908 and some related correspondence are reprinted here in the 1909 Annual Report of the Seattle Parks Department. The Olmsted Brothers documents begin on page 73.

Declaration of the National Association for Olmsted Parks

In 2003, the National Association for Olmsted Parks made a declaration honoring Seattle's Olmsted park and boulevard system and Volunteer Park in particular. It was a highlight of FSOP's celebration of the our park system's centennial.

FSOP Board Operations

FSOP Membership Form

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Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks
PO Box 9884
Seattle, WA 98109.

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