Landscape Architect & Specifier News

JAN 2016

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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January 2016 43 After the estate had fallen into a state of disrepair, Esarey's client wanted to do a complete makeover — while keeping the spirit and legacy of the Olmsted brothers alive, as much as possible. "It was very important to Mr. Morgan (the client) to stay true to the Olmsted Brothers design," Esarey said. "In order to make sure this happened, a thorough site analysis and inventory of the site was completed." Esarey pored through archival documents from the National Park Service, Fredrick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. His research was painstakingly involved and time consuming. Wee Landscape was hired to upgrade the five acres of the 140-acre farm that the Olmsted brothers had a hand in planning nearly 80 years ago. Esarey said the property has been declared a site of historical significance for quite some time. "The problem was, there were four different conceptual designs, and none of them matched the existing conditions," Esarey said. In other words, there was very little left on the Morgan estate with any tangible ties to the Olmsteds. "The place is historic, but the pieces just weren't there," he added. "There really is no way to figure out exactly what the Olmsteds wanted or did." According to what Esarey learned in his research, the Olmsted brothers had mapped out a gazebo, a formal garden, an iris and peony garden, garden rooms, a central fountain and a pool for this particular site back in the 1930s. "Really, the only thing existing was the swimming pool, and we tore it out and had a new pool built," Esarey said. "Everything else is new." Above Drawings in the Olmsted brothers' archives show this small body of water on the Morgan estate, and Esarey believes it was a slate quarry that was mined about 150-200 years ago. Because the walls and bottom are comprised entirely of solid slate, water in the quarry cannot drain or permeate the ground. The quarry is about 4-6 feet deep. A recirculation system was added to clean the water. "We're trying to get the water as clear as we can," Esarey said. At certain times and under certain conditions, the slate walls and bottom are visible from the water's edge. The gazebo was built near the old slate quarry, so people can "view this alluring feature," Esarey said.

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