In celebration of Olmsted 200, we are highlighting the William B. McCroskey papers. William B. McCroskey was the Associate Dean for the College of Letters and Science at the University of Idaho. He had great interest in landscape and building architecture, and was an architect by training. His interest in the Olmsted Brother’s influence on campus resulted in finding documentation held within the Idaho State Historical Society featuring Olmsted’s involvement on campus. McCroskey received photocopies of these documents and kept them in his personal papers.
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) was founder of the Olmsted Brother’s firm and co-founder of the profession of landscape architecture. His nephew, John C. Olmsted, and son, Frederick Law Jr., were charter members of the American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA), formed in 1899. John became ASLA’s first president.
John was first contacted by James Alexander McLean, the University of Idaho President, in December of 1906. McLean wanted reports regarding possible improvements to the campus grounds. Olmsted came to the university, inspected and submitted reports, plans, and sketches regarding various aspects of the campus from 1907 to 1917. His initial calculation was that the university needed about 900 acres which would include the main campus, recreational grounds, botanical, and farm lands. As of 2020, the university acreage was just over 800.
During the 2022 Design Week, the University of Idaho Landscape Architecture program hosted a design charrette along with Design Workshop, Inc. to explore how social and ecological problems of the current century are addressed through Olmsted’s social and environmental awareness and design principles. Students who participated in this program utilized the William B. McCroskey papers to view the Olmsted’s notations and reports when the firm visited campus.
To view this collection, make an appointment with UI Library’s Special Collections and Archives.
William B. McCroskey papers, UG 078, Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.
“Olmsted 200 Resources”. Research Guides, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.
“Design Week - What would an Olmsted Campus of the 21st Century Look Like?” National Association for Olmsted Parks. https://olmsted200.org.
“Olmsted Legacy.” Landscape Architecture Program, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. https://www.uidaho.edu/caa/programs/landscape-architecture/featured-stories/olmsted-legacy.