Hartwood Mansion is a popular tourist attraction in Pittsburgh. Built in 1929 as a Tudor, Elizabethan style, the 31-room mansion sits on a 629-acre park. It was originally owned by John and Mary Lawrence. Mary was the daughter of Senator William Flinn who owned the city’s largest construction firm. In 1969, she sold the mansion and property to the Allegheny County Parks department which was opened to the public for tours in 1976. Visitors come to admire the craftsmanship of the home, built by architect Alfred Hopkins who designed it in the style of the 19th century. Inside, the house displays a collection of original English and American antiques from 19th century English chairs to 17th century Flemish tapestry.

Last year, the plaster ceiling at the mansion collapsed, and Sylvia Easler, recreation superintendent of the Allegheny County Parks Department, who has been caring for the mansion for twenty years, set about restoring it and other parts of the house. The estimated cost of replacing the ceiling was $189,000, and restoring the furnishings and woodwork brought the total to $300,000. Also, the slate roof needs to be replaced which is estimated to cost about $1 million.

The great hall has since been repaired, making it possible to reopen the house for tours. However, the other work has yet to be started. Besides putting in air conditioning, one of the restorations they are most eager to unertake is to restore the organ belonging to Mary Lawrence since before the mansion was built. The organ was a present from her father. An estimate to have the organ restored 15 years ago was said to cost $115,000. Jim Stark, a treasurer of the national Organ Historical Society said that his organization is planning a trip to Pittsburgh in 2010 and may be able to restore the organ for $45,000.

It is the only house instrument by the Aeolian company to have survived in Western Pennsylvania.

Also at the mansion is an outdoor amphitheater which hosts cultural events such as theater, symphony music, and summer concert series. In the winter, it hosts the annual Eckerd Celebration of Lights which runs from mid-November to mid-January.

It is a popular venue for concerts, theater, and weddings. Because of its historical value and present day use, Hartwood Mansion is worth saving.

For related articles visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07183/798650-54.stm and http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3237.html.


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