FLOS volunteers participate in landscape workdays to beautify the green spaces in Riverside. | Courtesy of the Frederick Olmstead Society

The Frederick Law Olmsted Society, or FLOS, is celebrating its 55th year in Riverside. The organization, which is dedicated to sustaining Olmsted’s vision for Riverside by inviting residents and visitors to learn, protect the environment and preserve Riverside’s cultural and physical heritage, had an unlikely founder.

Attorney Robert Heidrich was among a group of residents who were initially displeased with the establishment of a children’s playground in the park behind their Riverside homes. As Heidrich looked for ways to ban the playground, he researched the history of the village and re-discovered Riverside’s connection the venerable landscape architect Olmsted. Heidrich’s appreciation of Olmsted led to a change of heart. 

Heidrich adopted Olmsted’s embrace of open-air, park-like recreation and founded the Frederick Law Olmsted Society and nominated Riverside to be a National Historic Landscape District. 

Today, FLOS is made up of a diverse group of Riverside residents who among other activities, host landscape work days in the village, maintain the Olmsted collection at the public library, host walking tours in the village, sponsor a student poetry contest, and conduct presentations on history and landscaping.

Sandie and Jim Petrzilka, who respectively run media and serve as board Vice President for FLOS, say of the group, “We’re a not-for-profit, and we are all volunteers.  Everyone is very dedicated to Riverside. We get people from all over the world who come here, and we have a lot of fun too.”