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About Us

Mission & Vision

Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s mission is to restore, enhance and forever protect Louisville’s Olmsted-designed parks and parkways, connecting nature and neighborhood while strengthening the community’s well-being. Our vision is to elevate our parks to bring the restorative power of nature to all.

We are the only Organization Devoted to Protecting our Olmsted Parks

Louisville is fortunate to have one of only 4 completed park systems designed by the great landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. Our park system is the most fully realized and largest of them all, and one of the final projects of Olmsted Sr.

Olmsted Parks Conservancy was founded in 1989 to serve as the non-profit partner to Louisville Parks and Recreation in restoring and protecting our 17 Olmsted Parks and 6 Parkways.

Louisville Parks and Recreation cares for over 120 parks, a daunting task. We are a small but mighty team working in our 17 Olmsted Parks each day to ensure they receive a higher level of care than what the Parks department is able to do on their own.

We believe our Olmsted Parks are special because of their intentional and thoughtful design and because of the urban communities in which they exist. Our parks give residents a sense of peace that comes from being wholly enveloped by nature, and a sense of belonging through everyday community connections.

We act as stewards of the parks, ensuring they will continue to be treasured and cared for community spaces for generations to come.

Restoring and Protecting our Parks since 1989

Ever since the first Olmsted Parks in Louisville were designed in 1891, the landscapes have been under threat. Whether it was local government constructing a flood wall through the middle of Chickasaw and Shawnee Parks, the federal government bulldozing a path through Cherokee and Seneca Parks for I-64, or Mother Nature wreaking havoc through tornadoes and flooding, our parks have needed protection.

Concerned citizens in the late 1970s launched a grass-roots effort, “The Friends of Olmsted Parks” to call attention to the worrisome loss of a great city asset. Louisville took notice. After reviewing a report on park conditions, Mayor Jerry Abramson established a task force which recommended the creation of Olmsted Parks Conservancy, modeled after Central Park Conservancy in New York City.

The first task was creating a blueprint for the future of the parks. The Master Plan for Louisville’s Olmsted Parks and Parkways, a Guide to Renewal and Management was completed in 1994. Chairman Bill Samuels stated, “We citizens of Louisville have been given a magnificent work of art, an incomparable gift, a work of landscape architecture surpassing anything in the region. These Olmsted Parks are a precious common ground where we can build social ties, or refresh and renew our private selves. Altogether, the system has helped to define the city’s form, preserve the rich native landscape, and improve property values. It is a daily mecca for recreation and relaxation.”

It has been 34 years since our organization was founded and in that time we have invested over $50 million into our public parks and parkways. We have become a model for the rest of the country in what a successful public-private partnership can accomplish.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At Olmsted Parks Conservancy, we value diversity in all its forms for the same reason we value biodiversity in our parks: it makes communities more resilient, sustainable, and vibrant. Our parks are an intrinsic part of Louisville, and, as an organization striving for inclusivity, we commit to fostering diversity and respect both in nature and neighborhoods.

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