“Managing the Model Suburb: The Olmsted Firm and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts”

posted Nov 25, 2013, 9:53 AM by Bill Marzella
A Lecture by Professor Keith N. Morgan

In the history of American suburbia, Brookline, Massachusetts, has the distinction of being the first suburb to successfully resist annexation efforts by its adjacent metropolis, which occurred in the 1870s. Since the late eighteenth century the Town of Brookline had been known as a refuge from urban life, particularly for wealthy Bostonians who built houses in the country. While adjacent towns with similar pastoral settings, such as Roxbury, Dorchester, and Brighton, were absorbed into the growing Boston metropolis, Brookline held out. Still under constant pressure from urban development, Brookline remains independent today, even preserving its town meeting form of government.


From 1883 onward, the Olmsted office of landscape architects was based in Brookline where they received more than 300 commissions through the 1930s to design projects from subdivisions and parkways to institutional grounds and private gardens. Working closely with neighbors Henry Hobson
Richardson and Charles Sprague Sargent, as well as numerous major Boston architectural firms, the various iterations of the Olmsted firm helped to shape the identity of the community, which promoted itself as a model of municipal management that others should emulate. As such, this suburb, which experienced normative incremental growth, became a laboratory for two generations of the nation’s most influential landscape architectural and city planning practice.

Keith N. Morgan is a Professor of History of Art & Architecture and of American & New England Studies at Boston University, where he has taught since 1980. He currently chairs the Architectural Studies Program of his department. He is a former national president of the Society of Architectural Historians.


The First Congregational United Church of Christ, Second Floor Chapel/Meeting Room
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Thursday, December 5, 2013
6:30 pm – reception; 7:00 pm – annual meeting; 7:15 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $18.00 for non‐members. For additional questions, contact Christine Henry at (202)744‐8123 or christine.rae.henry@gmail.com.
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Bill Marzella,
Nov 25, 2013, 9:53 AM
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