Monday, July 25, 2011

If I Were Rich and Famous

As you know, John and I did a "staycation" this year.  On one of the last days of our break, we went to Milford, PA to visit Grey Towers.  Grey Towers was the summer home of the Pinchot family.  James and Mary Pinchot made their fortune in the wallpaper business.  They also cleared the hills of NE Pennsylvania of their trees, shipped them down river, and sold the logs for lumber and the cleared land to farmers.  The Pinchots fashioned their family home to be exactly like LaGrange, the country estate of Lafayette, located in France.

James and Mary's son, Gifford, along with his wife Cornelia, inherited the family home.  With the encouragement of James, Gifford studied forestry and became the founder of the USDA Forestry Service.  He also served two different terms as the governor of Pennsylvania.  His wife was active in the suffragette movement and both Gifford and Cornelia promoted prohibition.

Here are some shots of the inside of the mansion, which the Giffords referred to as their "hunting shack".  They spent their summers here and did a lot of entertaining, especially during the years Gifford Pinchot was governor.

In the entry hall.  Cornelia kept her gardening table and supplies in this hall. 

In the Pinchot's library

The library again.

The parlor.  The pictures on the walls are "trompe d'oeil"....a trick of the eye.  They are actually painted on the wall, but look like pictures in frames hanging on the wall.
 The parlor had originally been two rooms, the dining room and the ladies' parlor.  The library had also been two rooms....the library and the men's parlor.  After dinner the men would go in their room and the women in theirs.  But Cornelia thought that was all nonsense, so she made the library into a large room and did away with the dining room, making this all one large room.  She believed that if they were to have a summer home, they should eat outside.  So she created an outdoor dining room.

This is the dining room table....a pool, surrounded sheltered by wisteria vines.

The food was brought to the table in wooden bowls.  When you wanted to pass food, you had to scoot it across the water.

There was also a skylight above the pool so that during evening meals the moon would shine down on the water.
 I loved sitting there, it was so calm, peaceful, and breathtakingly beautiful.  When the park ranger wanted to move the tour on to the next place, I didn't want to leave.  I told John that when we are rich and famous we have to live someplace warm like Arizona and have an outdoor table like that.  If I had endless amounts of money to have whatever extravagances I wanted, that is what I would do!

Gifford and Cornelia had only one child, so they built him a play house where he could go to escape all the adults that were always around.  These two pictures are taken outside his play house.




 The Pinchots also had an in-ground swimming pool, the first ever in NE Pennsylvania.  In front of the house was a moat and we discovered quite a number of bullfrogs in there.  


If you find yourself in NE Pennsylvania with $6.00 to spare, the tour of Grey Towers is worth every penny!

Before going to Grey Towers, John and I took some time to explore the town of Milford.  There are a lot of old, very pretty houses there. We also ate at a restaurant that was also a hotel....we had the most expensive hamburger in Pennsylvania, and it was the cheapest thing on the menu!  But it was fun to eat at something other than McDonalds.

This will probably be my last post from the good old US of A!  Next post will be from the other side of the ocean.  But who knows, maybe on Thursday I'll have time to catch up on some of our other activities from this summer and do another post.
 

2 comments:

OliveTree said...

Beautiful pictures. This sounds like a great place to visit. I look forward to reading another post from you from "the other side," as you put it!

podso said...

It all looks familiar ... e x c e p t---we did not get to see inside the house! I see you loved the dining table as much as I did! Hope you have a good journey back. Keep blogging when you can!