Franklin Park, recipient of our Stewardship Award, forms the southernmost segment of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace. It is both a Boston Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Olmsted, renowned landscape architect, began preliminary studies of the park design in 1881 and continued to be involved until his retirement in 1895. The park was designed to be a great “Country Park” in the midst of the growing city. Its winding roads and pathways were made for beautiful, curated views. However as vehicle traffic replaced carriages, the roads became larger and unsightly.
This project has reconnected the park with the many surrounding communities by making entryways more inviting to pedestrians and removing maintenance traffic from pedestrian and cyclist pathways. While restoring the carriageways, original cobblestone gutters were discovered and restored, bringing the paths back to Olmsted’s original plan. The project team even devised creative ways to replicate the beaded mortar distinctive to Olmsted’s bridges by creating custom tools. Pathway restoration allows visitors to enjoy Olmsted’s original design and creates a “ground to which people may easily go after their day’s work is done, where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing, and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets and the shops and the rooms of the town…”
Our Stewardship Award recognizes that preservation is an ongoing effort and work is often completed in many phases. As this project is enjoyed by hundreds of visitors to the park, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department will tackle the next phase of restoration to keep Olmsted’s vision alive and well in Franklin Park.
“Successful parks depend on more than ornamental plantings, ball fields, and green lawns. Olmsted recognized this fact well over one hundred years ago when designing the pathways, carriage roads, and bridges that are essential to our engagement with Franklin Park. Peeling back layers of not just deferred maintenance, but well-intentioned but poorly executed updates has begun to reveal both the bold and subtle beauty hidden throughout the park,” says Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance.