Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes & Gardens
Saturday, August 3, 2013, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(Always the first Saturday in August.)
Order your tickets online!
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 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.
Sponsored by Brownstone Real Estate Co.
Among the highlights of last year's tour:
● A land yacht
● Recreating the feel of a Canadian summer
● A "Tramp" art style fireplace
● Living within shouting and hearing distance of the Mt. Gretna Playhouse
See below for an example of the homes you can visit on the tour.
How far is it to Mt. Gretna? Mount Gretna is located just off the PA Turnpike between Lancaster and Lebanon along PA 117 off PA 72 (Turnpike exit Exit 266 ). Approximate driving times: Reading / Carlisle: 45 min; Philadelphia / Baltimore: one hour, 45 minutes; Washington, DC: two hours, 20 minutes; New York: three hours, 30 minutes.
$20 in advance / $25 day of the tour
Online: Click here (online ticketing fees apply)
By Phone: 717-361-1508
By Mail: Send your check at least 1 week in advance to Gretna Music, 1 Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022. Include $3 for postage and handling.
In Person: At one of the following MTG Tour of Homes Ticket Sales Outlets beginning early July.
Mechanicsburg: Stauffers Garden Center
Wyomissing: Progress Electric Supply
A Sample from the Homes on the 2012 Tour
The Kleinfelter Cottage
Situated on one of the most interesting intersections in the community, the Kleinfelter Cottage sits above the Chautauqua Playground where owners Bill and Barbara relax on their wraparound porch to watch the children, including their grandchildren, play. It’s the perfect spot to observe the activity of people coming and going from the theater, the Jigger Shop and the tennis courts. Other times, they can enjoy dining outside and saying hello to anyone walking by. Barbara’s favorite thing about the porch? “Summer,” she said.
When the Kleinfelters retired from teaching and education administration, they were looking to downsize from their home in Middletown. They found a condo but, “there just weren’t enough trees,” said Barbara. Their son was living in Campmeeting at the time and suggested they consider Mt. Gretna. They did and have been active in the community ever since. They bought their Chautauqua cottage in 2007 and got to work renovating the kitchen right away. “You walked in from the porch and had to step down 30 inches into the dirt subfloor the day of my daughter’s wedding,” said Barbara. Their daughter got married in the Hall of Philosophy – just steps away from the cottage. Their efforts were well worth it. A new kitchen sits behind the cottage’s original ornate wood-carved staircase from 1892 – the same year as the establishment of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua. The magnificent double-sided stairs lead to five upstairs bedrooms and two bathrooms. Several gorgeous stained glass windows handcrafted and designed by a Lebanon artist reflect views of the Mt. Gretna Lake, Van Gogh’s Lilies and other natural scenes.
You know you are in Mt. Gretna when you walk through the upstairs not only by the use of the Philadelphia bead board but also because, well, not many of the floors are level. They have been elevated and reinforced over the years. The front bedroom has thousands of dollars worth of custom cabinetry just because none of the walls or floors were plumb.
Luckily, Bill has a basement where he keeps his woodworking tools for when it is time for repair. Just above sits Barbara’s painting studio with skylights for natural light where she works on her folk art painting. Keep your eyes peeled for artistic touches that she created throughout the home.
For more than two decades, Terry Scheneck and Jim Mummert have enjoyed their unique circular porch overlooking the Mt. Gretna Playhouse. The porch was added to the cottage by John Cilley, a civil engineer from Lebanon, who designed the playhouse in the early 1890s. Cilley’s penchant for circular construction can also be seen in the Mt. Gretna Campmeeting Tabernacle. The location of the cottage’s porch gives Terry the chance to hear all the rehearsals and shows throughout the summer so many times that he jokes, “I can be a last-minute stand in for any of the parts!”
The cedar-shingled home is one of the original Chautauqua cottages as evidenced by the board & batten construction still visible on the interior walls. Many cottages around town that are not winterized show this building method on the exterior.
Inside, a modern kitchen makes entertaining possible all year round. Lancaster residents Terry and Jim use the cottage all summer and year round weekends to relax and catch up on reading in the large upstairs great room.
How do you know you are at the right cottage? The tell-tale large round geometric patterned stained glass window visible from the playhouse. Other stained glass artwork designed by a craftsman who traditionally displays work at the annual Mt. Gretna summer art show can be viewed throughout the cottage.
The pleasant cottage on First Street stands surrounded by interesting architecture, tall trees and community walking paths – particularly the amiable entrance to the Heights. John and Susan Hoyt purchased the home two years ago because it offers just about everything quintessential to a Mt. Gretna Campmeeting cottage – a wide welcoming wraparound porch, paned glass and a familiar double screen door. The charming interior features comfortable rooms accented by Philadelphia bead board.
Susan loves that the original 1910 feel remains in the cottage. The wood has been preserved through the years. She was also drawn to unchanged features such as the porcelain farmhouse sink in the kitchen, claw foot tub in the upstairs bath and iron woodstove in the family room. In an effort to honor the “old-timey” atmosphere, the couple hit the antique markets to find furnishings and lodge-worthy decorations. An old work bench with the vice still attached holds the kitchen silverware. “The only new items in the home are the sofas, mattresses and textiles,” she said.
John took on the home as a retirement project – encasing the windows with a clever wooden slide, refinishing the original floors and preserving the latch hardware throughout the cottage. The couple loves to refurbish the historic cottages so much that they have one across the street and another in Chautauqua all available to guests to rent. “We have families that traditionally return year after year to enjoy this special community,” Susan said. The Lancaster County couple was drawn to Mt. Gretna because it reminds them of their childhoods in the fifties – a slower- paced atmosphere, friendly people and a simpler way of life.
The Bronstein Cottage
Tall oak leaf hydrangeas lead to the screened-in porch with a peaceful expansive view of the lake but just inside Dr. Bronstein's cottage, all windows are surrounded by glorious rhododendron. Visitors get the feel of a natural oasis tucked into a secret garden.
For the past 17 years, Dr. Bronstein found exquisite one-of-a-kind furnishings to decorate his lakeside cottage that he purchased in the mid-90s. The home, built around 1940, previously belonged to the Wertz Candy family of Lebanon. Bronstein immediately enlisted noted Gretna designer Glin Atkinson to create a light, homey comfortable feel while maintaining iconic Gretna staples such as Philadelphia bead board and refinished original wood flooring. Any cottage in Gretna has lattice around the exterior edge, but how about for your kitchen ceiling?
Dr. Bronstein sought out a Lancaster-area craftsman to build the fireplace mantle facade in the "Tramp" art style -- a type of folk art. In America, Tramp art was primarily created at the end of the Civil War through the 1930s. The style comes from even older carving and decorating methods originating in Germany and Scandinavia. The technique appears throughout the cottage in the doorway and window cornices as well as in saw-tooth trim upstairs and downstairs. Even antique "found objects" such as shelves, mirrors and furniture mimic the style.
The room-by-room remodeling of the cottage is now complete and so pulled together that it tells one of Glin's "color stories" in that an object from any room can be moved to another area of the house and still complement the style and color.
The 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 where the owners strive for a “comfortable and casual” atmosphere that visitors say reminds them of an Adirondacks lodge.
Although guests sometimes come from places like Alaska, California and Arizona, “What surprises us most is that the majority are from places nearby, including Lancaster and Harrisburg,” says co-owner Frank Romonoski. Also surprising are the delightful experiences Frank and partner Harry Short have discovered while running the inn. “It’s like operating a cruise ship,” says Frank. “All the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready to make guests feel comfortable, with the flower arrangements, sweeping, laundering, preparing hors d’oeuvres. We sometimes call this our land yacht.”
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.
What’s the favorite spot of both owners and guests? Unquestionably, it is the porch, says Frank. “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.”
The Balmer Residence
Brett and Janice Balmer had just remodeled and settled into their Chautauqua home when
this Pinch Road hit the market. It’s a dream property for a family who loves the outdoors – surrounded by 35 wooded acres with a private pond. Creeks babble through the woods and one meanders around the bend at the family room window. The Balmers realized this was a haven tucked next to their favorite town and knew that they had to make it their own.
“The water features resonated with me aesthetically and for recreation. We have two energetic young boys and two dogs so we take advantage of the chance to explore, run, play, watch wildlife, build forts and then explore some more,” said Janice. The property borders 1000 preserved acres boasting trails to hike, bike, fish, hunt, snowmobile or just gaze through the trees to the sky. The Balmers host an annual Halloweenfest where they drive a tractor hayride through the cornfields and darkened forest.
The six bedroom, four bath home has been updated, remodeled and recently redesigned with a fresh exterior. Friends converge on the deck next to the tranquil water or hang out in the heart of the home – the kitchen island with built-in appliances. Winter provides the opportunity to relax by the stone fireplace with a view of the slumbering woods.
Janice, a fitness trainer, can work with clients in the first floor gym while Brett, a software designer, enjoys functional office space. They have made the most of this unique home and setting as a little piece of paradise