Stoneacre, these three acres opposite Vernon Court on Bellevue Avenue (American's most elegant street), are named for the mansion designed in 1884, by architect William Potter for John W, Ellis, which once occupied this site. Potter recommended Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) to his client as "a garden designer."
Stoneacre became Olmsted's first commission after he named the new profession "landscape architecture." The Stoneacre mansion was demolished in 1963 and the grounds lay dormant for decades thereafter, it is the last privately held open space on Bellevue Avenue. Stoneacre was purchased in 1998, by Judy and Laurence Cutler with the visitor to create a memorial park honoring Frederick Law Olmsted, America's first and most noted landscape architect.
For this site, Olmsted conceived of a "parklike setting" with a variety of exotic trees to protect the Ellis family from viewers. Stoneacre was furnished with native and exotic trees including London Plane, Fern Leaf Beech, Japanese Maple, Zelkova, European Linden, English Oak, and Tulip Trees, as well as Silver Maple, Cucumber, and Sweet Gums. Manmade earthen forms and contours were designed to give a rolling perspective and a more interesting perspective to the overall site which has been flat prior to Olmsted's designs.
Lucius D. Davis opined on Stoneacre in Gardens and Gardening (Dec. 1895),"The design was almost wholly for park effects and it was pretty thoroughly carried into execution." In 1980, Richard Champlin in Newport History, ('Newport Estates and their Flora') also commented on the parklike design. "To surround his Bellevue Avenue villa, John Ellis aimed at creating a park furnished with trees both native and exotic...a notable specimen of Cucumber tree stands near Bellevue Avenue ...thus subdued member if the magnolia clan puts forth dozens of bluish greenish blossoms from top to bottom...Not so the evergreen equidistant from Bellevue which strikes the eye with a startling contrast in needles, dark, glossy, blue-green above and gleamingly silver-white beneath. This Yeddo Spruce (Picea jezoensis) hails from Japan. Viewed in full sunlight, it displays the contrasting hues on a grand scale up and down its height.
Along the Victoria Avenue bound...grow trees with special significance in Rhode Island.
Also from Japan, these Zelkovas frist came to this country through the efforts of a Bristol physician, Dr. George Hall, who practiced in Japan during the early part of the nineteenth century..." It is said that these Zelkovas are the oldest extant and the largest examples in the United States.
Olmsted designed the nation's most beloved parks and grounds including New York's Central Park, the United States Capitol, Brooklyn's Prospect Park, The 1893 Chicago World's Fair, The Biltimore, Winterhur, Detroit's Belle Isle, Boston's Franklin Park, Newport's Master Plan, and many estate grounds. He conceived of Boston's first park system-The Fenway, known as "the Emerald Necklace." Olmsted's office went on to create the National Park System and designed a plethora of campus plans including Stanford University. Frederick Law Olmsted was a social activist and reformer, an artist and engineer and a man of epic vision. His work during the thirty years following the Civil War, created an American landscape which is enjoyed today and forevermore.
Judy and Laurence Cutler, founders of the National Museum of American Illustration at Vernon Court, honor Olmsted's legacy with his design for a small private park as a perpetual memorial to American's first landscape architect, The Frederick Law Olmsted Park.
South-East View of Olmsted Park from Bellevue Avenue
Western View of Park along Victoria Avenue