As I walked up to the State House in Albany, New York, it was growing ever large and more imposing. My response was one of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of its size. Somehow I felt I was entering a time long in the past. As “Olmsted,” I was grasped by the fact that these were the immense size and grandeur in which he and his colleagues like H.H. Richardson had been immersed in creating, as America moved forward, building things with immense dimensions of size and grandeur.
However, in meeting Mark Castiglione, Acting Director of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, who had coordinated this event at the State House, the sense of wonder continued. There were several officials present, including the Stuart Lehman, the New York State Capitol Education Director, and Bevin Collins, the New York State Capitol architect, along with two photographers. Evidently, they felt the presence of Olmsted gave rise to the possibility of showing off their treasure, a State House that stands as a mighty symbol of the glory of the 19th century. The golden age.
Our destination was the Senate Chamber. Walking through doors, which appeared as if they belonged in the most lavish in the world. Passing through the door to the chamber left me speechless. Literally, I went over and sat in a chair, gazing around the mammoth cavern that was filled with so many objects of glory. It was stunning. The photographers kept taking pictures of same as I sat, overwhelmed by the artistic power of H.H. Richardson.
Then I thought about his relationship with Olmsted. Now I understood more deeply why Olmsted loved this man as a brother and adored him as an artist. Pictures were taken by the photographers at three distinct places to grasp the symbolic significance of “Olmsted” being in the Chamber where his bust was above the door through which we had entered. My dialogue with all present was precious. To be in the presence of those who were trying to capture the past now in the present. I sit here tonight simply in disbelief. How wonderful to be a part of this history to have immersed myself in trying to understand and bring the power of those days into today’s life.
After the official taking of pictures was concluded, I was given a tour of this castle by the director/historian. How enriching. But my heart and mind were with the relationship between Olmsted and Richardson and all those other unique, creative, dynamic persons with whom Olmsted helped build an America we treasure today. We have much work to do.