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Male, born 1874, died 1941

Associated with the firm network

Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects

Professional History

Apprentice/Designer, Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects, Brookline, MA, 1896-1904; Associate Partner, Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects, Brookline, MA, 1904-1922; Partner, Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects, Brookline, MA, 1922- ; Senior Partner, Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects, Brookline, MA, -1941. Dawson founded the Olmsted office in Redondo Beach, CA, opened while the firm was engaged in the extensive work planning Palos Verdes Estates, CA.

Dawson has been credited as the lead designer on Duncan McDuffie's Saint Francis Woods housing development (1913) in San Francisco, CA, and the Washington State Capitol Grounds, Olympia, WA, (1928-1929). (See Cultural Landscape Foundation, "James Frederick Dawson,"Accessed 03/20/2013.)


Graduate, Roxbury Latin School, Roxbury, Boston, MA; graduate, Harvard University, Bussey Institute, Cambridge, MA.


James Frederick Dawson was born in Boston, MA, and lived his formative and young adult years in that city and neighboring Cambridge, MA, where he attended Harvard, University. Following college, Dawson traveled in Europe, taking his Grand Tour, seeing the continent's monuments of architecture and landscape architecture. Along with his boss, John C. Olmsted (1852-1920), Dawson traveled extensively in the West, particularly in CA and WA, doing public and private commissions and working on West Coast expositions in Seattle (1909) and San Diego (1915.) Dawson spent time in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and Spokane, WA, working on park plans for those cities. (It was in Spokane that he met his wife.) Carol McGarry, Chair of the Sherborn Historical Commission, noted that Dawson took his family frequently to stay seasonally in Redondo Beach, CA, beginning about 1912. She wrote: "Dawson founded the Redondo Beach office of the Olmsted firm. While there, he designed the Washington State Capitol grounds, Palos Verdes Estates, golf courses, parkways and arboreta. His work in Redondo Beach was so time-consuming that Fred took the entire family to California by train every year from October to May, returning to Sherborn for the summer. He was also responsible for plans of the landscapes at the Alabama State Capitol, Russell Sage College and other schools in Troy, New York. He managed the Brookline office at the time of his death." (See Carol McGarry, Sherborn Historical Commission, "History of the Dawson House,"Accessed 03/20/2013.) In 1913, the Dawson Family built a summer house/farm, named Lowcroft, in Sherborn, MA, where they spent considerable time. At the end of his career, Dawson assumed charge of the Brookline, MA, office, and lived nearby, but continued to spend his leisure time at Lowcroft.

His father was Jackson Thornton Dawson (10/05/1841-08/03/1916), Head Plant Propagator and Superintendent of Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum located in Boston, MA, for 43 years. Jackson Dawson and his wife had six children, the fourth of whom was James Frederick. Because of his father, James Frederick grew up steeped in horticulture.

James Frederick Dawson married Hazel Belle Lease (d. 1959) of Spokane, WA, in 06/1913. He was ten years her senior. Hazel was a talented violinist, playing with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra.

James Frederick and Hazel had four children: Jackson, James, Robert and Jane.

He was known to friends as Fred Dawson.

PCAD id: 3648