Proctor-Olmsted Day
Aug. 30 2022

Proctor-Olmsted Day

September 10, Utica’s Frederick T. Proctor Park
FREE-open to the public 10 AM until 4 PM

On Saturday, September 10, the local nonprofit program, Olmsted City, will hold “Proctor-Olmsted Day” at Utica’s Frederick T. Proctor Park, at the corner of Rutger Street and Culver Avenue in East Utica. The event will be free and open to the public from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

“For about 25 years, until 1942, there was an annual Proctor Day to thank the Proctor family for creating Utica’s enormous parks system,” notes Olmsted City Chair, Phil Bean. “For years I’ve heard people say we should revive Proctor Day, and we decided to do it now because of ‘Olmsted 200,’ a yearlong national celebration of the powerful impact the Olmsted family had on the American landscape.”

Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., whose 200th birthday is this year, co-designed Central Park and a large number of other parks and landscapes. “Olmsted, Sr., basically invented the American urban park and was the first person to call for the creation of the US national park system,” Bean says, “and his son, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who designed F.T. Proctor and Conkling Parks, as well as our parkway, also designed the landscapes for the White House, the Jefferson Memorial, and the National Cathedral, helped create the National Park Service, and made so many other significant works contributions. The Olmsted family reshaped the face of the US over the course of a century, and we own a significant part of that legacy here in Utica.”

Utica’s parks and parkway system, for which Uticans owe the Proctors and Olmsted, is 70 percent the size of Central Park; the system also includes Thomas R. Proctor Park, not designed by Olmsted but donated to the people of Utica by the Proctors in 1909. The system is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Utica is the smallest US city to have an Olmsted-designed parks and parkway system. “Although Utica is the tenth most populous city in the state,” Bean adds, “it has the fifth largest urban park system in New York, and according to our calculations, there is more city parkland per person here than anywhere in this state other than Rochester.”

The core attraction at Proctor-Olmsted Day will be over one dozen antique musical machines—mobile pipe organs, some as large as 10-15 feet long, others smaller. These machines will be brought to Utica by members of the Carousel Organ Association of America, who will offer performances that will give some sense of the era when F.T. Proctor Park was opened to the public in 1914. Other attractions for the enjoyment of families and children and the young at heart will include:

• the Children’s Museum and ICAN will bring their giant kaleidoscope and give children the opportunity to make their own kaleidoscopes to take home, among other fun activities;
• the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute will have crafts activities for children and a demonstration of “plein air” (live, open-air) painting;
• 4 Elements Studios, a community arts center based in Utica and directed by artist Vartan Poghosian, will offer pottery and clay bead-making activities and will demonstrate spinning clay into pottery;
• Geppetto Studios, a Utica-based custom prop and costume maker that has done extensive work for Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, David Letterman, and Broadway productions, will display costumes and props, including some visitors can try on for size;
• The Italian Heritage Club of the Mohawk Valley will offer lessons on how to play bocce (Italian lawn bowling);
• Phil Bean, Chair of Olmsted City, will offer a one-hour walking tour, explaining the design, history, and evolution of the park, as well as recent work at the park and Olmsted City’s hopes for it, beginning at 11:30 at the picnic pavilion in the park’s Rutger Street Parking lot;
• The dedication of the new “Peace Garden” will take place in the park’s lower level at 2:00;
• food will be available for purchase, including pastries courtesy of Caffe Caruso and lunch items
from the Balkan Street Food truck.

Proctor-Olmsted Day will not be the only event happening in the parks on Culver Avenue on September 10. At nearby Thomas R. Proctor Park (only a 5-minute walk from F.T. Proctor Park) the Redeemer Cup, Utica’s local World Cup-style soccer tournament, will also be taking place on September 10 and 11. The musical machines brought to Utica will also be again on display and performing on September 11 at F.T.
Proctor Park  “We are excited to offer more ways for Uticans to enjoy our parks,” observed Olmsted City Vice-Chair, Amy Funkhouser. “This Proctor-Olmsted Day event, along with the Redeemer Cup, is an opportunity for families to come out for a weekend full of fun at the two Proctor parks.”

The Bank of Utica is the sponsor of Proctor-Olmsted Day. Additional assistance is being provided by Heidelberg Bakery and its president, Boyd Bissell.

Established in August 2021, Olmsted City is a program of the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated since 1974 to the preservation of Utica’s historic architecture. Olmsted City focuses specifically on the restoration, preservation, and promotion of Utica’s Olmsted heritage: the 600-acre parks and parkway system and 6 neighborhoods (including one in New Hartford)
designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and his firm, Olmsted Brothers.

Olmsted City is currently conducting a fundraising campaign restore the iconic Lily Pond in F.T. Proctor Park. Donations to Olmsted City are tax deductible and can be sent to Olmsted City, P.O. Box 8597, Utica, NY 13505. Please contact Olmsted City Chair, Dr. Phil Bean or consult the Olmsted City’s website or its Facebook page ( or searchable on Facebook using the terms “Olmsted City of Greater Utica”)