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Theodore Wirth Collection M/A 1999.01.01-.03

Theodore Wirth Collection M/A 1999.01.01-.03

creatorWirth, Theodore, 1863-1949
Title: Theodore Wirth Collection
Quantity: 3.0 boxes
Repository: James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library


Theodore Wirth was born on November 30, 1863 in Winterthur, Switzerland and emigrated alone to the United States in 1888. He died on January 29, 1949. He served as the Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park System 1906-1935, expanded the city's parks from 1,780 acres to 5,241, doubled its length from 31.1 miles to 62.23 miles, and was a strong advocate of outdoor recreation and safe park access for all, gaining him admittance to the National Recreation and Park Association Hall of Fame.

Wirth studied and worked in horticulture in Zurich, London, and Paris, and also studied engineering. Initially a gardener for private estates, including the famous Jardin des Plantes in Paris, Theodore Wirth quickly became Construction Foreman for the New York Park Department, trimming trees in Central Park. An encounter with a police officer while Wirth was walking home, which culminated in Wirth being forced to retrace his steps to utilize the paths instead, solidified Wirth's rage against "Keep off the Grass" signs and his vow to do away with similar unwelcoming obstacles to the general public. After some "political upheaval," in his words, his position was eliminated (along with many others) and he became a freelance landscaper. Appointed superintendent of Parks in Hartford, Connecticut in 1896, where he designed the nation's first municipal public rose garden in 1905; his second would be built near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis in 1907. Wirth founded the American Institute of Park Executives in 1898.

Wirth came to Minneapolis in 1905 to accept the offer from Charles Loring of Superintendent, following the retirement of William Morse Berry. There were approximately six landscape architects in the entire United States at that time. Initially reluctant, Wirth accepted the position with the condition that a home be built for him, and that he be given a chauffeur, since Wirth never learned to drive.

Wirth strongly supported Charles Loring's Street Tree Program, begun in 1888, and implemented the "Grand Rounds Boulevard System" somewhat after H.W.S. Cleveland's design of a continuous boulevard system encircling the city. Wirth's work was also influential for Minneapolis neighborhoods starting their "Playground and Neighborhood Park System," changing the flavor of city parks from that of "passive recreation" (walking and driving), to active recreation: bicycling, kite flying, ball playing, sliding on winter hills, and walking on the grass - which had previously been forbidden by the Park Board. Despite objections from traditionalists and some influential families, attendance at these newly-inviting city parks soared from 93,600 in 1907 to 250,000 in 1908, to 7 million prior to World War II, making the Minneapolis Park System "the envy of the rest of the country." Wirth also led the first hike of the Minneapolis Municipal Hiking Club (Minnehikers) in 1919. Hailed as a visionary and a risk-taking idealist, Wirth was survived by his wife and sons - two of which, Conrad ("Connie") and Walter L., along with a grandson, Theodore J. ("Ted"), also became architects, bequeathing three generations of landscape architects and the Wirth Environmental Award.

Description of the Collection

Original letterpress copies of Wirth's correspondence, 1899-1907. Includes correspondence to Charles Loring (1905-06) and to Frederick Law Olmsted (1904). Also includes biographical profiles, articles, and clippings. Also included is correspondence from his grandson, Theodore "Ted" J. Wirth.

Subject Headings


Wirth, Theodore J., 1927-2009


Landscape architects--United States.

Table of Contents

Index to Letterpress Correspondence

Biographical sketch, clippings, handwritten index, photos, Parks and Recreation journal, press releases, holiday card, invitation, summaries, correspondence (from grandson), photos. 1906-2000 -- Box 1
Photocopies of private correspondence from letterpress book, with page numbers and indexes. 1899-1907 -- Box 2
Original letterpress correspondence, with page numbers 1899-1907 -- Box 3

Index to Letterpress Correspondence

Altlick, H.M., June 28, 1906Page 305
American Panoramic View Company, June 4, 1903Page 32
Amrhyn, Gustave X., January 23, 1903Page 42A
Amrhyn, Gustave X., October 21, 1905Page 95
Amrhyn, Gustave X., October 5, 1903Page 85
Amrhyn, Gustave X., September 23, 1903Page 63
Appledorn, H.H., June 19, 1903Page 36
Baker, Dr. Frank, February 17, 1906Page 273
Barron, E., Editor, March 17, 1904Page 146
Baugher, E.A., June 13, 1903Page 33
Baugher, E.A., May 12, 1903Page 21
Bayersdorfer & Co., October 24, 1902Page 31A
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, February 7, 1906Page 258
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, June 13, 1905Page 215
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, March 14, 1905Page 198
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, March 22, 1906Page 295
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, May 19, 1905Page 210
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, October 22, 1905Page 240
Beetz, Wilhelm, Vien, Austra, September 7, 1905Page 229
Boddington, A.T., January 3, 1905Page 171
Breitmeyer, Phillip, President, December 1, 1904Page 167
Breitmeyer, Phillip, President, January 5, 1904Page 124
Breitmeyer & Sons, John, January 5, 1904Page 126
Brown, George, March 10, 1906Page 280
Bulletin, (Road) N.E.A.P.S., February 17, 1904Page 136
Buths, Joseph, December 2, 1902Page 41A
Circular Letter about Vilmorin Memorial FundPage 164
Circular Letter Asking for InformationPage 155
Circular Letter regarding Birds, January 5, 1904Page 127
Clark, F. Lewis, April 2, 1906Page 295A
Cowles, Anna Roosevelt, February 18, 1903page 47A
Cowles, Anna Roosevelt, February 25, 1903Page 1
Cowles, Anna Roosevelt, May 12, 1903Page 22
Crawford, Norman Mc. D., April 21, 1903Page 16
Cumming, Alexander, Secretary, Hartford Florist Club, April 12, 1906Page 297
Dawson, April 12, 1900Page 14A
Dawson, Jackson F., March 17, 1904Page 148
Driggs, A.W., June 13, 1903Page 35
Duncan, J.W., February 28, 1903Page 6
Duncan, J.W., March 16, 1905Page 202
Earle, Horatio S., Detroit, Mich., March 14, 1904Page 142
Egertson, Wm. S., December 6, 1904Page 169
Ell[s]worth, L.S., July 13, 1903Page 45
Ellsworth, L.S., September 10, 1903Page 62
Ellsworth, L.S., September 30, 1903Page 66
Ellsworth, L.S., September 5, 1903Page 52
Ensign, Joseph R., May 19, 1903Page 26
Ferguson, Henry (Mrs.), June 15, 1904Page 153
Frey, Alois, September 9, 1904Page 165
Frey, Alois, September 9, 1904Page 164
Gallagher, Percival, January 30, 1905Page 174
Graves, Edwin Dwight, May 27, 1903Page 28
Gross, Charles E., April 1, 1905Page 206A
Harrington, H.E. April 10, 1900(?)Page 10A
Hartford Club, October 5, 1903Page 74
Heiss, J.F., March 15, 1906Page 292
Hillyer, Appleton, R. (Mrs.), March 9, 1903Page 8
Hubbard, Walter, Meriden, Conn., June 1, 1903Page 29
Hubbard, Walter, Meriden, Conn. August 25, 1903Page 51
Hyde, E. Henry, Jr., October 19, 1903Page 92
I[usfe?] & Almiral, December 11, 1909 (?)Page 5A
Jackson, J. Frederick, February 20, 1906Page 276
James, F.G., February 12, 1906Page 268
Jeffers, George B. (Mrs.), Scullville, NJ, March 13, 1905Page 197
Jensen, Jens, June 1, 1906Page 302
Judd, Theo. H., July 19, 1904Page 155
Kasting, William F., February 12, 1906Page 269
Kasting, William F., February 28, 1906Page 278
Kasting, William F., March 16, 1906Page 290
Kelsey, Fred'k W., March 16, 1904Page 143
Kelsey, Harlan P., April 16, 1903Page 11
Kinsey, Samuel A., May 9, 1906Page 298
Koehler, Hans J., December 1, 1904Page 168
Koehler, Hans J., March 16, 1904Page 144
Lindberg, M.P., March 15, 1906Page 289
Lines, W.S., March 27, 1905Page 205
Loring, Charles M., August 3, 1906Page 306
Loring, Charles M., July 4, 1905Page 219
Loring, Charles M., November 15, 1905Page 252
Loring, Charles M., November 9, 1905Page 247
Loring, Charles M., October 18, 1905Page 235
Loring, Charles M., September 12, 1905Page 230
Loring, Charles M., September 5, 1905Page 227A
Love, Wm. DeLoss, February 9, 1906Page 259
Maloney, John, January 30, 1903Page 45A
Manda, W.A., February 18, 1903Page 50A
McCall, John A., April 27, 1903Page 17
Meehan and Sons, April 16, 1903Page 14
Merian, A.M., February 17, 1904Page 134
Meyers and Co., December 23, 1900Page 15A
Morgan, E.D., February 1, 1900Page 8A
Morse, J.H., December 16, 1903Page 106
Munson, John, March 13, 1906Page 283
Munson, John, March 13, 1906Page 282
New Haven County Horticultural Society, October 7, 1903Page 84
Nussbaumer, Fred, May 14, 1906Page 301
Olmsted, Jr., Frederick Law (Prof.), January 1, 1903Page 117
Olmsted, Jr., Frederick Law (Prof.), January 1, 1904Page 118
Olmsted, Jr., Frederick Law (Prof.), May 14, 1904Page 149
Olmsted Brothers, December 11, 1909Page 3A
Olmsted Brothers, October 18, 1905Page 238
Olmsted Brothers, September 10, 1903Page 61
Olmsted Brothers, September 29, 1903Page 65
Orguelt[?], G.F., April 1, 1909Page 7A
Osborne, Geo. S., July 22, 1903Page 46
Pache, Henri, March 26, 1900Page 13A
Parker, G.A., February 26, 1903Page 3
Parsons, S. (Jr.), January 15, 1900Page 5AA
Pettigrew, J.A., February 13, 1906Page 271
Pettigrew, J.A., March 15, 1905Page 201
Pettigrew, J.A., November 4, 1902Page 32A
Plants to be ProcuredPage 165
Pruning of trees and shrubsPage 18A
Public Rose Garden, Theo. WirthPage 178
Reck & Son, John, October 19, 1903Page 93
Report for Connecticut State Vice-President, August 2, 1904Page 158
Rice Automatic Sprayer Co., January 14, 1904Page 128
Ridgway, J.A., November 9, 1905Page 244
Road Bulletin (contribution for), February 17, 1904Page 136
Robinson, Chas. M., March 11, 1903Page 9
Roundhouse Site Alliance (Collections)Page 175
Ruedlinger, C.N., November 13, 1903Page 96
Schutz, W.S., February 28, 1903Page 7
Schutz, W.S., October 19, 1903Page 87
Schutz, Walter, February 12, 1905Page 267
Seliger, Mrs. W., March 17, 1904Page 147
Shady Hill Nursery Co., May 12, 1903Page 25
Simmen [?], Robert, January 22, 1904Page 130
Skinner, W.C., November 30, 1903Page 99
Skinner, W.C., September 30, 1903Page 68
Smith, Constant, March 12, 1900Page 12A
Smith, F.R., President, September 12, 1905Page 231
Society for Savings, February 20, 1906Page 277
Spear, D.A., June 23, 1903Page 43
Specifications for Hartford ClubPage 75
Sperry, Lewis, November 21, 1902Page 36A
Sternberg, A.C., May 12, 1903Page 19
Stewart, Wm. J., December 31, 1903Page 115
Stewart, Wm. J., February 29, 1903Page 5
Stewart, Wm. J., January 14, 1904Page 129
Stewart, Wm. J., January 5, 1904Page 125
Stewart, Wm. J., November 19, 1902Page 34A
Stewart, Wm. J., October 19, 1903Page 94
Tainber, H.E., October 3, 1902Page 39A
Thompson, Harry C., Winnipeg, June 11, 1904Page 151
Thompson, R.W., Secretary, May 4, 1903Page 18
Todd, F.G., December 10, 1903Page 105
Todd, F.G., December 5, 1903Page 104
Todd, F.G., June 11, 1904Page 150
Traendly, Geo., February 27, 1903Page 4
Trimpy, M., December 19, 1900Page 16A
Vaill, J.H., July 6, 1903Page 44
Vanicel, V.A., April 7, 1903Page 10
Vaughan, J.C., Chairman, June 8, 1906Page 303
Vaughan, J.C., Chairman, March 15, 1906Page 287
Vaughan, J.C., President, S.A.F.O.H., May 27, 1905Page 212
Vaughan, J.C., President, S.A.F.O.H., October 17, 1905Page 233
Vaughan, J.C., September 8, 1904Page 163
Warder, R.H., Secretary, August 7, 1903Page 47
Warder, R.H., Secretary, November 19, 1903Page 97
Waterman, Edgar F., January 2, 1904Page 123
Waugh, F.A., Amherst, Mass., February 20, 1905Page 176
White, A.L., January 29, 1906Page 256
Whittier, Wm., November 4, 1909Page 2A
Whittier & Co., W.B., May 12, 1903Page 24
Wilcox, F.L., June 23, 1903Page 40
Williams, E.S., February 12, 1906Page 265

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