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Frederick Law Olmsted believed parks would educate and civilize citizens, that they would provide physical and spiritual blessings to people from tenements and sweatships as well as those from expensive mansions. He believed all people would meet and mingle in parks, thus overcoming the barriers of class and wealth. He believed in the power of parks to elevate humankind.
In 1922, the land known today as Seneca Park and Bowman Field was inherited by a German man named Baron von Zedtwitz. Prior to inheriting the land, America was at war with Germany and Zedtwitz was serving as a lieutenant in the German Army. During the war the US created an Office of Alien Property Custodian, and because Zedtwitz was a German citizen, control of his land was transferred to the US Trust Company of Louisville. After World War I ended, Zedtwitz hired an attorney to regain possession of his estate.
The Louisville Board of Parks Commissioners contacted the Trust Company of Louisville, expressing interest in purchasing the land to expand park space. In 1928, after years of trials and negotiations, Zedtwitz was still unable to gain control of his land, so he agreed to sell the 540-acre property to the Parks Commission. After the purchase of this land, the Louisville Board of Parks Commissioners leased 200 acres to Bowman Field. With the remaining acres, Olmsted Brothers firm began designing Seneca Park. Two years later the Board purchased the necessary land to connect Seneca and Cherokee Parks. Seneca Park was the last park in Louisville designed by the Olmsted firm.
Seneca Park now includes a golf course, baseball fields, basketball courts, biking, cross country trails, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, horseback riding trails, picnic tables, a playground, and a 1.2 mile long walking path. According to The Trust for Public Land, Seneca Park has 500,000 visitors annually, placing it in the top 100 municipal parks in the United States. Frederick Law Olmsted Parks were designed to enhance the life of the communities around them. Olmsted Parks Conservancy restores, enhances, and preserves these parks and parkways so Louisvillians can continue to enjoy all the benefits these beautiful parks have to offer.
The design plan for Seneca was in stark contrast to neighboring Cherokee Park because of its formal style and also because the plan included an 18-hole golf course along with many other recreation facilities.
Located at: 3151 Pee Wee Reese Rd., 40207 (Cannons Lane and Pee Wee Reese Road)
Size: 526.02 acres
Seneca Golf course (18-hole)
2300 Pee Wee Reese Road, 40205
Ball fields (4)
Cross-country trail (3.1 miles)
Horseback riding trails
Walking path (1.2 miles)