Five Points Mission, the entity that owns and operates Olmsted Center,
has been in existence for over 150 years. It is the oldest mission in
New York City and the oldest Methodist mission. Five Points Mission is
a not-for-profit corporation incorporated in the State of New York.
Mission was named for the region just north of New York City Hall where five streets converged at an open square.
In the 1800's this area was characterized by all types of social ills and its residents were the "undesirables" of society.
The notorious reputation of this area prompted a visit by Charles Dickens in 1842,
has been written about in several historical books and was recently depicted
in both a movie and book titled GANGS of NEW YORK.
In 1848 the Ladies of the Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal
Church devoted their attention to Five Points. For five years this group had been
working with immigrant and disenfranchised populations to help them find God. They
struggled in their approaches to working with the population that resided at
Five Points. The approach that worked on this population was based on a model
developed by Charles Loring Brace the future founder of the Children's
Aid Society. In the Ladies of the Home Missionary Society model mission
work involved transforming the destructive city environments of dependent
mothers and children into healthier, positive environments. This mission work
began in a newly purchased and renovated building (Old Brewery)
in the community adjacent to Five Points.
At the turn of the century it became apparent
that there was a need for a camp to take the children and their mothers
to during the summer. An appeal was made through the Five Points Mission newsletter.
In 1901 Camp Olmsted was opened as the Olmsted Fresh Air Home of Five Points Mission in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. The purpose of the camp was to serve as a "vacation" away from their depressed living conditions in the city. The 21-acre parcel of land was given to Five Points by Sarah and John Olmsted.
Over the years immigrant children took the Hudson River Day Liner to Cornwall-On-Hudson
landing and then were picked up or walked the one mile to camp. In 1966 the New York City Society entered into a cooperative agreement with Five Points Mission, which allowed for the sharing in the development and operation of Olmsted. One of the first activities under the agreement was the building of three winterized cabins. This addition to this property allowed for year-round use of Olmsted facilities for retreats, conference and weekend programs.
In 1981 two platform tents were added to the property and in 1984 Olmsted became an
accredited camp through the American Camping Association. In 1982, Camp Olmsted was recognized
by the National Register of Historical Places for significance of the camp and it's buildings in American History.
In 1990 the Manor House was winterized and a tennis court was added to the property.
In 1998, Five Points Mission acquired two adjoining properties: 1) the Windon Farm (also known
as the Donohue Farm) with approximately 45 acres and 2) the Santoro family residence on approximately 9 acres.
At the same time,
Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc. acquired conservation easements on portions of the
the three properties. In 1999 the Kirkwood House, a Victorian-themed retreat house dating back to the mid eighteen
hundreds was completely renovated and added to
the Olmsted facility. The Kirkwood House is dedicated in honor of Glady's Kirkwood and in
memory of her husband, William C. Kirkwood.
If you would like to be contacted to discuss a gift for the future of
Olmsted Center or to sponsor a summer camper, please call April Callender, Five Points Director
at 212-870-3084 or write to Five Points Mission, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 1922, New York, NY 10115