Even more than a century after his death, Frederick Law Olmsted is still known as the maestro and progenitor of American landscape architecture, lauded for the reservoirs, lawns, and brambles of NYC's Central Park, and famed for his work on little-known projects like the Niagara Reservation at Niagara Falls, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. He also, in a very literal way, the father of some of the next generation of landscape architects; his sons, the Olmsted Brothers, opened their firm in 1898, spending the next several decades designing parks, cemeteries, and promenades across North America. As much as the Olmsteds plunked their thumbs in the pies of public properties, they've done no small amount of noodling about private grounds, adding waterfalls and "mossy woodlands" to the backyards of the American aristocracy. Below, find the country's loveliest, priciest listings boasting an Olmsted design, from the Long Island Sound to the Olympic Mountains.Read More
Mapping the Best Olmsted-Designed Home Gardens For Sale
1. Shoreline, Wash.
Shoreline, WA 98177
The brokerbabble calls these 3.24 West Coast acres, on which an 85-year-old Colonial Revival house sits, "some of the most beautiful, privately held Olmsted-designed gardens in the nation." The gardens were designed in 1928 (so necessarily by the Olmsted Brothers, as Frederick Law died in 1903), and come with "neat boxwood hedges and high banks of rhododendron and azalea," an 18-foot-wide lily pond (and fountain!), a great lawn, evergreen trees, a "mossy woodland garden with waterfalls," a vegetable/herb garden, and an "old fruit orchard." It's all enough to get the home featured in The Seattle Times Magazine. How much does a mossy woodland go for? $5.85M.
2. Gordonsville, Va.
Gordonsville, VA 22942
Up for $1.4M: a gorgeous antebellum sprawl with a six-bedroom brick mansion, plus six cottages and formal gardens edited by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
3. Cape Neddick, Maine
Cape Neddick, ME 03902
Head up to Maine and find a restored 1905 estate complete with restored gardens by the Olmsted senior. The ask: $2.595M.
4. Brookline, Mass.
Brookline, MA 02445
This 1929 Georgian Revival features 3.6 "serene park-like acres" created by the Olmsted Brothers, the landscaping firm founded by two sons of the great Frederick Law Olmsted. While inside there may be "museum quality" furnishings, 10 "magnificent" fireplaces, and "a trove of fine architectural millwork," the real winngs are outside, with a grand terrace with lily pools and a "lushly secluded" swimming pool.
5. Newport, R.I.
Newport, RI 02840
This "meticulously restored" estate, known as Wild Moor, was designed by prominent, turn-of-the-century architecture firm McKim Mead White in conjunction with Frederick Law Olmsted. The main house, cottage, and carriage house sit on 23 gated acres and look out onto the ocean. The ask: $9.9M.
6. Brookline, Mass.
Brookline, MA 02445
Up for $4.8M, a six-bedroom in Brookline, Mass., known only as "The Estate," sits on 1.5 acres of gardens designed by the Olmsted Brothers. The 1925 estate offers "delightful" views of the "vast" grounds from the living room and each of the bedrooms.
7. Hamilton, Mass.
Wenham, MA 01984
Massachusetts' Pheasant Hill estate "combines elements of a French Chateau and an English Country House," made complete with a "winding" drive, "stately" court yard, "rolling" meadows, and gardens designed by an unspecified Olmsted. As for other outdoor boasts, there are terraces, an in-ground pool and pool house, a tennis court and "tennis hut," a guest house, a tea house, a greenhouse, and a gazebo—all for $4.5M.
8. Fishers Island, N.Y.
Fishers Island, NY 06390
This 5.73 shorefront estate, on the market on Fishers Island, N.Y., boasts that it is "part of the original Olmsted plan," with a driveway that threads through "landscaped woodlands" to reach the 1927 Matthiessen house.
9. Colebrook, Conn.
Winsted, CT 06098
There's nothing that screams Progressive Era garden more than a pétanque court, and this 1912 Connecticut estate, with a yard by the Olmsted Brothers, boasts that and more. On its 23 acres, on sale (along with a Mediterranean Revival spread by architect Addison Cairns Mizner) for $3.495M, Rock Hall boasts "one of Connecticut's largest private collections of specimen trees, as well as mature perennial gardens." There's also a "free-form" pool, and yoga studio, tennis court, and stone pool house.
10. Middletown, R.I.
Middletown, RI 02842
Built in 1873 under the guidance of Frederick Law, this shingled "cottage" on Rhode Island's Easton's Beach asks $2.995M.
11. Beverly, Mass.
Beverly, MA 01915
Brokers insist this house "teems with memories of a Gilded Era" and boasts 1.03 acres of Olmsted gardens, complete with koi ponds, granite benches, and "secret paths."
12. Atlanta, Ga.
Atlanta, GA 30307
This five-bedroom in Atlanta abuts the city's Olmsted Park, so technically the abode doesn't have privately-commissioned gardens. That being said, the 1924 Tudor has got all the charm befitting an Olmsted property: a terraced yard, koi ponds, and views of Olmsted-designed expanses.
13. Verona, N.J.
Verona, NJ 07044
Spotted in New Jersey, this three-bedroom offers long looks at the Olmsted Brothers' Verona Park. The ask: $999K.
14. Longmeadow, Mass.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
This five-bedroom Colonial up for $879K in Massachusetts sits in a neighborhood designed in 1928 by the Olmsted Brothers.