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Jenny Scofield and Christopher Wigren at ASLA CT Event in Wickham Park

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ASLA CT Presenting Olmsted Award to PCT & SHPO

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Christopher Wigren of PCT Leads a Tour of Fulton Park

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Seymour Cunningham's Grave Plot in the East Cemetery, Litchfield

Since 1992, CTASLA has recognized 28 recipients with the Connecticut Olmsted Award which is given annually to a person or organization in Connecticut that has employed the principle of stewardship of the land as the guiding force in their actions. The award honors the life and lasting legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, a native son of Hartford who pioneered the modern landscape architecture profession as an advocate for public spaces and a steward of natural resources.

In Bridgeport, the signature Olmsted landscapes of Seaside Park and Beardsley Park established the “Park City” moniker and the city’s reputation of being a first-rate, prosperous industrial center. Forward-thinking advocacy by P.T. Barnum, James Beardsley, and William Noble in creating the city’s parks system helped transform these swampy, barren, overgrown areas into cherished public spaces.


Both parks emphasize bucolic elements in the landscape as a foil to Bridgeport’s industrial center. Long Island Sound, the Pequonnock River, open meadows, and undulating woods edges draw the eye away from hectic city scenes. On a pleasant summer day, the spaces in each park come alive with families strolling around, children at play, and the joyful cacophony of pick-up sports games. The persistence of these parks for over 150 years demonstrates the power of design advocacy and the importance of conserving open space for public benefit.

In 2022, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), it feels doubly appropriate to recognize two groups which have put forth a tremendous effort to recognize and celebrate Olmsted's legacy in Connecticut.


The 2022 Connecticut Olmsted Award winners, Preservation Connecticut (PCT) and the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (SPHO), have worked together over the past year to document and make public the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as the continued work of the Olmsted firm, which practiced in different forms from 1860 until 1979.


The documentation of Frederick Law Olmsted’s life and work in Connecticut was, and is, a tremendous undertaking. The idea for this project began in 2017 when the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) promoted the idea that Connecticut had an important place in the Olmsted story. Since then, Preservation Connecticut and the State Historic Preservation Office hired the Red Bridge Group, a nationwide heritage consulting firm, to survey and document 139 Olmsted landscapes in the state. A record was made of the history of these sites as well as their current state, ranging from intact to no longer in existence. Also assessed were the signature design elements of an Olmsted landscape (see sidebar), the influence of Connecticut on Olmsted designs, and the legacy of Olmsted designs on Connecticut.


This report is now accessible to the public through the PCT and SHPO websites, through SHPO’s new geospatial system, CONNCRIS, and through presentations to community groups. The report will also be used as a basis for assessing eligible sites for the listings on the National Register of Historic Places or for adding information to sites already on the Register but which are currently under-documented.


In addition to organizing this significant report, Preservation Connecticut and the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office have been hosting Olmsted-related events throughout the state over the course of 2022. Events have included tours at Olmsted-designed parks, presentations of the research findings to interested groups, and even helping to run a summer camp session at the Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop in Hamden, Connecticut.

For all their work unveiling and celebrating the Connecticut Olmsted history in this year of Olmsted200, ASLA Connecticut is proud to recognize Preservation Connecticut and the State Historic Preservation Office with the Connecticut Olmsted Award.



Award Recipients

2022     Preservation Connecticut & Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office

2021     Groundwork Bridgeport

2020     Connecticut Fund for the Environment & Save the Sound

2019     U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

2018     Bushnell Park Foundation

2017     No award

2016     UConn CLEAR Program

2015     Chris Donnelly, Urban Forestry Coordinator, State of Connecticut

2014     Terry Backer, State Representative and Soundkeeper

2013     William DeMaio, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of New Britain

2012     No award

2011     Mary Donohue, CT Dept. of Economic and Community Development

2010     Steve Broderick, Goodwin Forest Conservation Education Center

2009     James Gustave Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and                               Environmental Studies 

2008     Peter L. Malkin, Merritt Parkway Conservancy 

2007     State Senator Andrew Roraback

2006     David Leff, Connecticut DEP/Author

2005     State Senator Bill Finch

2004     Green Valley Institute

2003     Town of Simsbury, CT

2002     Lieutenant Governor M. Jodi Rell and Senate President Pro Tempore                       Kevin B. Sullivan

2001     No award

2000     Jim Gibbons, Land Use Educator, University of Connecticut

1999     Jack Shannahan and the Connecticut Historical Commission

1998     Joshua's Tract Conservation and Historic Trust

1997     U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

1996     Land Preservation and Enhancement Program, Iroquois Gas Pipeline                     Company

1995     William Niering, Ph.D., Connecticut College

1994     Joseph Hickey, Connecticut DEP, State Parks

1993     Philip Barske, Ph.D., Applied Ecologist

1992     Richard Goodwin, Ph.D., Connecticut College

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