Founded in 1913 as the American Society of Landscape Architects’ first Chapter, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, has grown since then to become one the Society’s largest chapters.
The BSLA and its priorities are focused on supporting the success of its member landscape architects and its supporters. This is accomplished with an extensive and innovative series of member benefits, focused career and skill development opportunities, a nationally reknown Awards program, the largest Scholarship Program of any Chapter, and of course as many special events as can be scheduled!
BSLA is reaching out to others in the outdoor design community by participating in trade shows, conferences and events hosted by allied organizations. Advertising in publications to promote the profession of landscape architecture is part of the support of public awareness.
Begun in 2012, BSLA Fieldbook is an outstanding, full color print publication showcasing the members and the profession. The Spring issues are more focused on members while the Fall issue is a collection of significant technical and expository articles, and is widely distributed (members, ABX, NE Grows, Boston Flower Show, New England Foundation for the Arts, and high end retail outlets to name some bonus distributions).
Recognizing the historical and current position of BSLA, the organization is proud to have donated $30,000 to the Fund for the renovation of ASLA headquarters to create The Center for Landscape Architecture – one full year ahead of the original commitment. This level of contribution is made possible because of the incredibly vibrant, active, and involved membership of this Chapter. This gift will allow the Atrium to be named for Boston Society of Landscape Architects.
Founding of the Boston Chapter
There were 11 charter members at the founding meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects in the offices of Parsons & Pentecost (St. James Building at Broadway and 26th Street, New York). They designated themselves originally as “Fellows”. There were three Boston area gentlemen among the group: Warren H. Manning (Boston), John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr (both of Brookline). From New York were Nathan Barrett, Beatrix Cadwalader Jones (Farrand), Daniel W. Langton, Charles Lowrie, Samuel Parson, Jr., George F. Pentecost, Jr., and Downing Vaux. The eleventh member was Ossian Cole Simonds of Chicago.
A Committee was appointed to draw up a constitution and by-laws, which were duly adopted at the next meeting, held on March 6, 1899 in New York; at that time, officers were elected: President, John Charles Olmsted (1899-1901); Vice-president, Samuel Parsons, Jr.; Treasurer, Charles N. Lowrie; and Secretary, Daniel W. Langton. The first annual meeting was held in New York the following January.
Most meetings continued to be in New York, but in 1905 (and again in 1908), Boston served as host. In the three day 1905 meeting, discussion topics included the boulevards and parkways of Boston, Harvard University, and private estates in Boston and Brookline. The following days’ conversations focused on the parks of Boston, featuring excursion to the Boston Park System and the Metropolitan Park System. John Charles Olmsted delivered a lecture on “The Boston Park System.”
The first organizational meeting of the Boston Chapter was held January 23, 1913 with 27 members; however, Chapter status within ASLA didn’t occur for almost another two years – December 21, 1914. BSLA was incorporated in the Commonwealth in 1916. Through 1921, BSLA typically held four meetings each year, including one that hosted an ASLA meeting as well.