The Kalamazoo community offered twenty-four possible sites for the new Western State Normal School. The Michigan State Board of Education narrowed the list down to four sites, and then hired the nationally-known landscape firm, Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, to recommend the final selection. Upon the firm's written recommendation the Board selected Prospect Hill on November 27, 1903.
The architect selected for the project, E. W. Arnold, designed the first building for the Western State Normal School - the Administration Building - and drafted a plan for a quadrangle of potential future buildings. The Olmsted Brothers used the Arnold quadrangle plan as the basis for a landscape, or planting, plan for the entire 20-acre site.
The Planting Plan includes a comprehensive list of plants sorted into twenty-seven categories or groups, with each category's location clearly labelled. It included terraced lawns and several elaborate sets of stairs leading down to Davis Street and to Oakland Drive.
The original Olmsted Brothers Planting Plan was printed on linen cloth, and measured approximately 85 inches wide and 30 inches high. The delicate 100 year-old document was reproduced by photocopying it in sections and then piecing the sections together.