Press Release

Olmsted Linear Park Alliance Awards Fernbank Museum first-ever Frederick Law Olmsted Award for Significant Contribution to the Rehabilitation of the Olmsted Park

ATLANTA—The Olmsted Linear Park Alliance (OLPA) presented for the first time its Frederick Law Olmsted Award to Fernbank Museum in honor of those who have made a significant contribution to the rehabilitation of the Park. Sam Williams, recently retired President of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, along with his wife Nancy, were this year’s Honorary Chairs and presented the award to the museum. 

Fernbank Museum of Natural History owns the majority of two park segments that make up the six-segment linear park system. The museum has worked with OLPA on the park’s restoration since OLPA’s inception. 

“We are incredibly honored to receive this award since there are so many partners and supporters who have made the continued restoration of the parks possible,” said Susan E. Neugent, president and CEO, Fernbank Museum. “At Fernbank, we’re always looking for innovative ways to better partner with the communities we serve.  Supporting OLPA’s great work to protect and preserve our parks is a natural fit.”

“Fernbank Museum has been a dedicated OLPA partner since our organization was founded, offering us support, expertise and office space to gather and do what has been needed to achieve great progress on the park’s master plan,” said OLPA president, Julie Ralston. “Simply put, Fernbank has been central to our progress in rehabilitating this historic treasure.”

In 1890 Atlanta businessman Joel Hurt engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., to prepare a plan for developing the area now known as Druid Hills. Olmsted was recognized as the nation’s preeminent designer of parks and public open spaces. His work included Central Park in New York City, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the Emerald Necklace of Boston, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and the nation’s Capital Grounds. The Olmsted firm submitted a preliminary plan to Hurt in 1893 in which the six-segment Linear Park was first laid out. The firm completed the final plan in 1905, two years after the death of Olmsted, and remained involved with the work until 1908, when the property was acquired by the Druid Hills Corporation. The area was then developed and the Park was completed under the leadership of Coca-Cola magnate Asa G. Candler. The design of Druid Hills soon became the standard by which other Atlanta developments were measured.

The Olmsted Linear Park Alliance (OLPA) is an Atlanta-based non-profit focused on preserving and protecting the Olmsted Park along Ponce de Leon. In 1995 a coalition was formed by the Olmsted Parks Society of Atlanta, the Druid Hills Civic Association, Park Pride, the city of Atlanta, DeKalb County and Fernbank Museum. Aided by specialists in the preservation of Olmsted parks, representatives from these groups developed a master plan for restoration that was in keeping with the spirit and intent of the original Frederick Law Olmsted design. The Master Plan was adopted by the City of Atlanta in 1997 and incorporated into the Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan. At the same time, the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance (OLPA), a public-private-partnership between local citizens, the City of Atlanta, DeKalb County and Fernbank, Inc., was created to implement the master plan. Over the next 15 years, OLPA would raise over $10 million dollars to rehabilitate the six park segments which constitute 44 acres. Today the Park is also known as the “Green Heart of Druid Hills” allowing residents to take advantage of an enchanting place to exercise, meditate, walk, run, chat with neighbors, or just marvel at the splendor of our natural world.

Fernbank has been committed to green practices since its founding in the late 1930s to preserve Fernbank Forest as a school in the woods for nature studies. Devoted to the conservation of the 65-acre Piedmont forest and the education of those we serve, Fernbank Museum conducts ongoing stewardship of Fernbank Forest and in 2012 completed a new Forest Stewardship Plan. Fernbank has an extensive onsite recycling program, encompassing both office supplies and public consumables, and practices water conservation through the use of ultra-low flow toilets, automatic faucets and xeriscaping. Further, the Museum actively educates the public on ways they can practice sustainability through educational programs and exhibits and by fostering a greater appreciation for the environment.

Additional information on the Frederick Law Olmsted Award can be found at


About OLPA

OLPA is an Atlanta-based nonprofit 501(C) 3 organization to preserve and protect our precious historically and horticulturally significant park. Funds raised through the Gala contribute to the 95% of the funds that the Alliance must raise to maintain the Park. The City of Atlanta and DeKalb County provide the typical maintenance of mowing the grass, but without generous donations, the Park would not be the beautiful greenspace it is today.

For more information, visit

About Fernbank Museum

Fernbank Museum of Natural History, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization, inspires life-long learning of natural history through immersive programming and unmatched experiences to encourage a greater appreciation of our planet and its inhabitants. For more information, visit