Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grey Towers Mansion

On our last four day weekend, Hubby and I drove to Connecticut.  On our way there we went through historic Milford, Pennsylvania home to Grey Towers National Historic Site.

Grey Towers was built in 1886 for James Pinchot, a successful businessman and philanthropist.  James and his wife, Mary, had their summer home designed to utilize local materials and to reflect the French heritage of the Pinchot family, who first settled in Milford in 1818.

The turkeys are made entirely of lead - a problem since the squirrels like to lick them, resulting in a number of squirrel fatalities.  The bust on the outside of the second floor is Jean Lafayette and he is looking toward France.

The massive front door is wide enough to be a double door but James thought that would be too fancy so ordered one large door be installed.

Through the front door, is the huge foyer.  It is the largest room in the house and the Pinchot family spent decades entertaining guests with afternoon teas, dinner parties and dances.

Musicians played near the fireplace in the foyer as dancers twirled around the floor.

Disturbed by destructive logging practices, James encouraged his eldest son, Gifford, to consider a career in forestry.  Born with a love for nature, Gifford worked tirelessly to raise scientific forestry and natural resource conservation from a radical experiment to a nationwide movement.

Gifford attributed much of his success to his wife, Cornelia, who put her own stamp on Grey Towers.

In a age when men and women would retire to separate rooms to converse after dinner, Cornelia took out the wall between the gentlemen and ladies sitting rooms forcing conversation among both sexes.

Pinchot was eventually elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1922 and was widely regarded as one of the state's most popular and effective governors.

Before he was governor though, he became head of the Division of Forestry in 1898 and in 1905, under his good friend, President Theodore Roosevelt, was named Chief Forester of the newly created United States Forest Service.

The large living room further reflects the families' love of the outdoors.

During Gifford Pinchot's tenure, national forests more than tripled in size to more than 170 million acres.

At present, the upper floors of the house are used as offices for the forestry service and are not open to the public, but there is one more "room" to show.

This is the dining room!  Remember they were only here during the summer - and this water feature and gazebo served as their formal dining room.  Food was placed on wooden dishes, and the rule was you would "pass" it to the person directly across from you by gently pushing the dish across the water.  It was against the rules to pass to the person seated next to you.

If you tired of looking at the other people at the "table" you could look upward at beautiful design.  Cornelia had lots of unusual ideas but I love this one!

Gifford and Cornelia only had one child, a son they named Gifford.  The doting parents built him his own little playhouse.

In 1963, the younger Gifford donated Grey Towers and 102 acres to the USDA Forest Service and on September 24, 1963 President John F. Kennedy personally dedicated the site to the American public.  We loved our tour of Grey Towers but we had lots more to see on our four day weekend!