Thursday, August 22, 2013

More Olmsted & Vaux

I'm tidying up the dramaturgy handout for the first show on Sat.  Here's a timeline of important dates for Olmsted and Vaux (pronounced "Vawks").
April 26, 1822           Frederick Law Olmsted born in Hartford, Connecticut to John and Charlotte Olmsted

December 22, 1824  Calvert Vaux born in London, England

August 1825              John Hull Olmsted (brother) born

February 28, 1826   Charlotte Olmsted dies, age 25, from an overdose of laudanum; speculation that it was suicide

1827                           John Olmsted marries Mary Ann Bull; they have six children

1840                           Olmsted moves to Brooklyn; goes to work for a silk importer at 53 Beaver Street in Manhattan

April 24, 1843           Olmsted sets sail on the Ronaldson to China as an apprentice sailor; at sea for 104 days

1846                           Olmsted enrolls at Yale College as a “special student”; then, decides to become a farmer

1847                           Father buys Olmsted a farm at Sachem’s Head, Connecticut, on Long Island Sound

1848                           Olmsted persuades father to buy him a farm on Staten Island

April 27, 1850           John & F.L. Olmsted travel to England; Olmsted fascinated by the landscape, and in Birkenhead Park,  first park built with public money

1851                           Vaux moves from London to Newburgh, New York to work for Andrew Jackson Downing; by 1852, Vaux & Downing are partners

1852                           Andrew Jackson Downing dies in the Henry Clay steamship explosion in the Hudson River near Yonkers at age 36
1853                           John Charles Olmsted born to Mary & John Hull Olmsted
                                   NY State Assembly passes bill creating the Central Park, from 59th to 106th Streets

1854                           Vaux marries Mary Swan McEntee

1855                           Charlotte Olmsted born to Mary & John Hull Olmsted

1856                           Vaux becomes US citizen; joins the National Academy of Design and the Century Club

1857                           Vaux is a founding member of the American Institute of Architects
                                    Olmsted & Vaux create and submit the “Greensward plan” for               Central Park
                                    Owen born to John Hull & Mary Olmsted

November 24, 1857 John Hull Olmsted dies of tuberculosis in Nice, France

1858                           Julia Vaux born

December 11, 1858  First part of Central Park, the Lake, opens for skating

June 3, 1859              Aunt Marie Olmsted (father’s sister) dies; she kept house for Olmsted

June 13, 1859            Olmsted marries his sister-in-law, Mary Olmsted, in Central Park; adopts her three children Charlotte, Owen & John Charles; together with the Vaux family, they move into Mount St. Vincent convent, in the Park at 109th Street

Summer 1859           The Ramble opens in Central Park

June 14, 1860            John Theodore Olmsted born, Mary & Frederick Olmsted’s first child

August 6, 1860          carriage accident, in which Olmsted breaks his leg and nearly dies; one leg is shorter than the other for the rest of his life

August 14, 1860       John Theodore Olmsted dies of cholera

June 20, 1861           Olmsted takes appointment as administrator of the US Sanitary Commission (forerunner of the US Red Cross)

1861                           Marion Olmsted born to Frederick Law & Mary Olmsted

1864                           Marion Vaux born

May 29, 1866             Olmsted & Vaux appointed landscape architects of Prospect  Park

November 24, 1866 Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. born; lives for 6 hours, dies

1870                           Charles Olmsted (called “Boy”) born to Frederick Law & Mary Olmsted; at age 6, he is renamed Frederick “Rick” Law Olmsted, Jr.

October 18, 1872      Olmsted and Vaux dissolve their partnership; Olmsted’s first solo job is McLean Hospital

January 25, 1873      John Olmsted (father) dies at 81

March 14, 1874        Congress appropriates budget for Olmsted to landscape design US Capitol

October 15, 1878      Charlotte Olmsted marries Dr. John Bryant at Trinity Church in Boston; they have three boys, Olmsted’s first grandchildren

November 21, 1881 Owen Olmsted (stepson) dies of tuberculosis

1883                           Olmsted and Vaux landscape design Niagara Falls (NY)

August 1892              Mary Vaux dies in a carriage accident

November 19, 1895 Calvert Vaux drowns in Gravesend Bay; speculation that it was suicide, though his children deny it

September 1898       Olmsted committed to McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts

August 28, 1903       Olmsted dies at McLean Hospital

1908                          Charlotte Olmsted Bryant dies in an insane asylum in Norwood, Massachusetts

My New Best Imaginary Friend, Calvert Vaux

Since mid-May, I've been busy researching and writing a play about Frederick Law Olmsted.  It's a commission from Open Source Gallery to accompany the opening of their new installation, We Know Not Exactly Where or How, an Olmsted-inspired park put in the gallery itself. 

Here are the guys themselves.  The play is called "Olmsted in Autumn."  The wonderful Tamara Fisch is directing, Mitchell Stout plays Olmsted, Michael Raimondi plays Vaux, and Cotton Wright plays Charlotte Olmsted (his stepdaughter) and Charlotte Olmsted (his mother). Costume design by Sidney Shannon.

It will be performed August 24 and 27 at 7:30 and 8:30 PM at Open Source Gallery, 306 17th Street, Park Slope.   Admission is free. 

Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were the landscape architects of Central Park, Prospect Park and Niagara Falls, among many other spaces. 

Olmsted in Autumn looks at Olmsted near the end of his life.  Because of his advancing senility, he has ceased working and his family has committed him to the McLean Hospital.  He is visited by three ghosts with whom he has unfinished business:  first, his stepdaughter/niece Charlotte, who’s incarcerated in a different Massachusetts mental hospital; next, his longtime partner Calvert Vaux, who drowned himself in Gravesend Bay two years earlier; and finally, his mother Charlotte, who died from an overdose of laudanum when Olmsted was a child.  

This is Anne Phelan and Dramahound’s fifth production at Open Source; previous plays include Brooklyn Lighthouse; Deconstruction (featuring Cotton Wright); Mi Tigre, My Lover (directed by Tamara Fisch, featuring Cotton Wright, costume design by Sidney Shannon); and a reading of The Tiger Play (directed by Tamara Fisch, featuring Michael Raimondi).

Open Source Gallery is a 501(c)3 owned and curated by Gary Baldwin and Monika Wuhrer.  Directions:  To reach Open Source, take the R train to Prospect Avenue.  306 17th Street, near Sixth Avenue, Brooklyn NY.  646.279.3969