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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get Thee To The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire





In 1980, a two-day jousting festival called the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire was held in the winery parking lot to attract visitors. The event proved popular, and expanded in the following years.

In 2009, the Faire which hails a two million a year profit, was held on a 35-acre site with 90 shows performed daily on 12 stages, hundreds of costumed characters, and a recreation of a 16th-century English village with authentic Tudor buildings. Musical performances, Shakespearean plays, and other acts were offered, twenty-three "Royal Kitchens" served food and drink, and Renaissance merchants were on-site. The Swashbuckler Brewing Company was founded on the grounds in 2000, and its product is available at the Swashbuckler Brew Pub.

Mt. Hope Estate

Two distinct architectural styles are visible in the Estate. Originally constructed in the Federal Style for Henry Bates Grubb between 1800 and 1805, Mount Hope Estate was the most formal iron master's mansion built in the area between 1750 and 1850. In 1895, Daisy Grubb oversaw significant changes, adding a Victorian ballroom, a billiard room, chandeliers, and parquet floors, and converting original hinged doors to sliding doors, while still maintaining much of the original construction, including the original facade and fireplace mantels.


The three-story bay window which rises to an octagonal turret at the west end of the house was built as part of the 1895 re-modeling.

The south-facing two-story facade, made of locally cut red sandstone, remains substantially unchanged from the original 1800-05 construction. The wooden porch running the length of the facade appears to be a reconstruction, as part of the 1895 remodeling, of a similar original porch.

The entire west end of the house went through substantial changes in the 1895 re-modeling. This included the construction of a striking three-story bay window rising to an octagonal turret with a patterned roof, and a two-story bay window near the southwest corner.

The most significant additions made during the 1895 remodeling are located at the rear (north) of the house. These include a conservatory with a polygonal glass dome, a greenhouse just east of the conservatory, and an enlarged kitchen.

The eastern end of the house was also remodeled in 1895, in locally cut red sandstone to match the facade. Aside from several Gothic arches from the original construction, the entire visible structure at this end was built in 1895.

The interior of the mansion, like the exterior, is a mixture of original 1800-05 construction and decoration, blended rooms, and Victorian construction and decor.

The entry hall is almost entirely original construction. Nearly all the woodwork and decoration in this area dates to the 1800-05 period, with the exception of several balusters and newel posts on the spiral staircase, which were Victorian replacements. The major change to the entry hall was the construction of false walls, allowing the conversion of the original hinged doors into sliding doors. The second floor central hall and Washington Room (on the second floor, in the southeast corner) were also changed very little in the renovation.

The dining room, on the other hand, saw extensive remodeling in 1895. The room size was increased by the construction of a bay window, parquet floor was installed, and the room was decorated in cherry woodwork, with a gilt and crystal chandelier and sconces. The only original item remaining left in the room was the fireplace mantel. The Pink Room, named for the pink damask which covered the walls in 1895, the library, the Best Chamber (Daisy Grubb's bedroom), was also extensively remodeled.

A number of new rooms were added to the house as part of the 1895 work. A billiard room and ballroom were added in the rear of the house, and several ornate bathrooms were added on the second and third floors.

At one time there were nearly 30 outbuildings on the estate, as well as a wall surrounding the estate, all constructed of the same locally quarried red sandstone as the mansion, "of which there seems to be an inexhaustible supply on the estate". Some, like Hope Church, are on property that was given away or subdivided over the years, and today, only four remain on the estate, all located to the north (rear) and northeast of the mansion.

The smokehouse is a square two-story building with a hipped roof, and is believed to date to the early 1800s. East of the smokehouse, a 1 1/2 story building with a three bay facade and a gabled roof was used as a school in the late 1800s, and may have served as a originally. The manager's farmhouse stands 2 1/2 stories high and is L-shaped with a porch. The springhouse is also 2 1/2 stories.


A fountain in the Mount Hope gardens.

The overall plan of the gardens, based on English formal gardens, can be traced to the original 1800-05 construction. Although some flower beds, ornamental urns, and the round fountain in front of the mansion were installed at the time of the 1895 remodeling, the overall plan was not changed, leaving the garden as "a very rare and largely intact example of a documented American formal garden predating 1840."


My take on the faire:

Fantastic! I was impressed with the details, enjoyed a step back into a time of merriment, got a kick out of the way some of the visitors come in the garb and all talk Elizabethan or Gaelic. When I spoke to some of the entertainers/characters they spoke it at all times, and stayed in character whether it be a royalty, wench or a pirate.


I really want to go again, and again.





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