Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes & Gardens
Saturday, August 1, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Always the first Saturday in August.)
Enjoy a fascinating glimpse into the architecture and style of Mt. Gretna’s iconic homes. A self-guided walking tour includes homes and gardens of contrasting sizes and styles, some homes almost a century old; others just finished. Each summer Chef du Tour Realtor Emi Snavely selects a different collection of homes reflecting the various styles and tastes of Mt. Gretna homeowners. The result is a delightful day in the shady, nostalgic surroundings of Mt. Gretna.
Houses on the 2015 Tour
This year we have four homes never before on the tour, one from last year now renovated, and others renovated since last on the tour decades ago. Each of the homes has a distinctive character. “We are really excited about this year’s tour and think people are really going to enjoy it,” says tour doyenne, Emi Snavely.
This year’s tour includes 9 homes, 3 historic buildings, and the Mt. Gretna Inn. As follows in notes by Chris Hanna:
Twin Cedars Cottage
Upon visiting this delightful home constructed in 1920, you will be drawn to the leisurely feel of the large porch; it just welcomes reading and talking. Desi and Lucy are the ambassadors. They are two darling and extremely happy dogs. Built in 1920, this is a kaleidoscope of dazzling salvaged antique glass windows. Note also, the beautiful patina on the pressed tin surfaces. Perhaps the most unique feature of this home is its collection of tribal African art including a “peace pole” in the garden painted by daughter Kristin with “Peace” painted in 30 languages.
The Music House
Built in the 1940s, the deck of this property has a
delicious view of the verdant forest. Spacious, warm, but gracious, this home is nestled into its space belying its interior. The most spectacular feature of this place is what was once a very large music room which has been transformed into a quite impressive library with books from the floor climbing to the top of a vaulted ceiling…you simply want to snuggle and read. The master bedroom is vast and dramatic complete with a wonderful fireplace.
Music at Gretna founder, Carl Ellenberger, has his own fond memories of this property that served as our Music at Gretna offices until 1986 and was the scene for post-concert parties until 1997:
“When I bought the house in 1973, Hershey Bank thought it was worth far less than I did. Nevertheless, the $24K mortgage, my first ever, settled onto my shoulders like a yoke. When books, pianos, and harpsichords (built in the basement) exceeded the capacity of the living room by 1975, I designed a 600 square-foot vaulted “music room” to connect through a small bedroom off the back. Leroy, a carpenter in a straw hat with a black pickup, said he would build it for “twenty dollars” if I built the bookshelves. (He meant, I learned, $20 per square foot.) That proved large enough for the Strauss “Serenade for Thirteen Winds” with conductor— and the books, records, and instruments. In 1986 Jim Veser modernized the doors and windows, added a deck, and doubled the original shelf space to over 1000 ft, adequate for my collection if I shelved some books in the long narrow attic bedroom that, unknown to me then, presaged my MRI scanner in Lebanon. My cat, Calico, liked the arrangement because she could come to bed after midnight by jumping from a tree onto the roof of the music room and meowing at the bedroom window. One year Calico helped me convince resident flying squirrels to move to a new home in a birdhouse outside the kitchen window.”
While We Are At It
“Preserved integrity” is what comes to mind when one visits this Campmeeting renovation. The owners have retained most of the original fixtures, but have improved to the superlative. To an original Hoosier, they’ve added casters so it could be wheeled to the kitchen area, changing the small space to an entertaining area. During the process of removing years of floor coverings they discovered oil cloths, likely from the early 1900’s. The determination to keeping with the cottage’s roots is delightfully evident. For those of you who were on the tour last year and saw the beginnings of this renovation, be ready to be amazed!
The name says it all. There is a beautiful flow and southern ease that comes with this Chautauqua home. The colors are soothing and smooth, but punctuated with bits of intense color as evidenced by the red cast iron stove. An addition was constructed in 2000, so it’s quite spacious. There is an unusual light that embraces you when you enter, which is sometimes a rarity in Mt. Gretna.
Although recently constructed, great attention was paid to give the interior some real Mt. Gretna bones. The wooden interior is mostly reclaimed wood and exudes a real peace. However, the main feature of this house is its vast outdoor entertainment area. A two-tiered patio that crawls into the natural beauty of the woods is crowned with an outdoor kitchen. The indoor kitchen is gourmet and beautiful, but the exterior space calls to the summer.
The Moose Den
The affection for the Adirondacks and simply nature in general is just beautifully apparent from every cove and cranny of this Campmeeting cottage built in 1920. Amish craftsmanship is evident everywhere; meticulous workmanship. It fits on a double lot which isn’t common in this part of the woods. You must take note of the painted ceilings and the bead board surfaces.
It’ a Wonderful Life
You will be transported to another wonderful era, just like the Frank Kapra film, when you visit this cottage. This is a year round residence with loving touches of a by-gone time. Inside and out, this is a place of nostalgia. Featured on a 1929 postcard, the wraparound porch just invites visitors. Two of the warmest features (in my opinion) are the lush garden and the cupola atop the roof.
The Green House
This tiny Campmeeting cottage has a bright and lively spirit. Built in 1900, it retains its roots, but has been gutted. A split skylight lets the light flow. Two stained glass transom windows, created by Mt. Gretna artist Emily Hitz, highlight the wall between the bedroom and bath. Handmade cottage railings around the inside stairway were lovingly designed and built by the owners. The home has a lovely porch that beckons those who pass by. If you want to see a true glimpse of a renovated cottage from another era, you will not be disappointed.
The Blanck Family Cottage
Appearing exactly as it did in the 19th century and as old as any cottage in Mt. Gretna, this one has been transformed into a livable 21st century residence without sacrificing any ancient features with assistance form Gretna designer, Glin Atkinson. It’s larger inside than you might expect and has family room in a loft. When the new owners pulled carpeting in the upstairs, the floors were black. A thorough cleaning revealed them to be hemlock! Although a private summer soak in the vintage ball and claw foot tub on the patio sounds divine, those dreams have been thwarted by Carol’s green thumb, the tub abounds with flowers. Built in the 1890s, this home is right by the playhouse (a wonderful thing), but has a delightful porch on which one can rest and hear the lilting notes from performers. The porch posts are of locust and the floor is mahogany. Indoors, rugs were pulled up to reveal preserved plank floors. Bead board and pine walls abound. This a sweet and eclectic space.
The Hall of Philosophy in Chautauqua
Snacks, baked goods, drinks and light lunch items from 10 am – 2 pm. Proceeds benefit the PA Chautauqua. The Hall of Philosophy is the heart of a community distinctive in its striving to live up to the Chautauqua mission: “advancement of literary, scientific, intellectual, physical, and social welfare and the promotion of cultural and religious activities, recreation and entertainment.” Plans for building the current Hall of Philosophy began in 1908, with the announcement that Rorer Hall would be torn down. The building’s exterior, inspired by classic Greek architecture, has remained unchanged since it was erected, and the interior has experienced minor alterations over the years.
Stop by and talk to Perry Good on the Hall of Philosophy porch. Perry renovated a home that was on the tour last year.
The Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society
If it looks like simply another cottage in Mt. Gretna, those who restored it will consider their labors a success. They lifted this cottage 12 feet into the air and carved out space for a basement archive and fireproof cement vault. Among its most important roles today is helping modern-day owners who plan to restore their cottages here. The museum is also a repository for audio and video histories – memories recorded in the voices of Mt. Gretnans who helped shape the area’s history. Amplifying that heritage are furnishings and dinnerware from the former Conewago Hotel and Mt. Gretna Inn, as well as Playhouse playbills bearing names such as Charlton Heston, Bernadette Peters and “All in the Family” actress Sally Struthers. Their newest feature is The Attic on the second floor where visitors can find a handmade Campmeeting cottage dollhouse decorated in the Mt. Gretna style with working electric lights along with original furniture from Gretna cottages. Military memorabilia, drawn from the area’s more than 50 years as the summer headquarters of the PA National Guard is another highlight.
It is the central hub of Mt. Gretna Heights, a neighborhood built in the 1920s and 1930s that has since become a haven for artists, writers, musicians and other talented residents. Beneath the vaulted ceiling is a huge fireplace, built with stones taken from the five-story Conewago Hotel, following its demolition in 1940. Completed in 1942 and thoroughly remodeled in 2001, the building is operated and maintained by the owners of approximately 70 homes that make up the Mt. Gretna Heights community. It serves as a studio for the Mt. Gretna School of Art in June and July.
Mt. Gretna Inn
This three-story inn was once the private home of Mt. Gretna builder and developer Abraham Kauffman. Design inspirations here stemmed from the Arts and Crafts Movement popular during the 1910 to 1925 era. The home has also served as a church camp and a restaurant. It is now a bed and breakfast. Guests relax amid an eclectic mix of furnishings in this elegant inn, which the owners strive to make “comfortable and casual, rather than fussy.” Each of the seven guest rooms is unique, with private baths. Some have private porches, gas fireplaces or whirlpool tubs. All rooms also have access to a butler’s pantry, microwave ovens and other amenities. One of the favorite spots of both owners and guests is unquestionably the front porch. “It is a place you can escape to with a glass of wine, listening to the crickets at night, or with coffee in the morning, catching the birds’ chorus. . . a little bit of heaven.” Pssst! It’s for sale.
Tickets are $20, $25 the day of. $5 for age 12 and under are also available. For more information, visit www.gretnamusic.org or call 717-361-1508.
The self-guided walking tour runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 1. Tickets ($20 in advance) are available by calling Gretna Music at 717-361-1508, or online at www.gretnamusic.org Advance tickets ($20) are also available at the following locations:
Lancaster County: All Stauffers markets
Dauphin County: Brownstone Real Estate, Hershey; and Stauffers Garden Centers in Hummelstown and Linglestown
Cumberland County: Stauffers Garden Center, Mechanicsburg
Lebanon County: Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown; Brownstone Real Estate, Lebanon (Quentin); Gretna Emporium, Mt. Gretna, and Stauffers Garden Center in Lebanon
York County: Stauffers Garden Centers in East York and Dover.
On the day of the tour, $25 tickets will be sold outside the Mt. Gretna post office on Princeton Ave. and in front of the Mt. Gretna Playhouse at 200 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Brownstone Real Estate Company is the sponsor of the tour. Proceeds benefit Gretna Music, an organization that has been presenting chamber music, jazz and other musical genres in central PA for over 40 years.Plan A Visit