Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Richness of Mt. Gretna

Mt. Gretna has a rich heritage.  Throughout the last 100+ years, it's contained an early amusement park and narrow gauge train, was the site of the annual encampment for the National Guard for 50 years, became a part of the Chautauqua movement, became the center of a religious campmeeting and Bible conference, and continues today as a quaint summer retreat community which focuses on art, music and all manner of cultural events to enrich life.  Many of the original buildings still stand, as well as the wonderful old cottages with wrap-around porches, bright colors and gingerbread architecture.  It's an inspiring place to visit, and my sister and I did just that at their annual walking tour of homes and cottages within Mt. Gretna. 

If you decide to do the tour in the future, a few tips:

* Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.  There is A LOT of walking and steps.  This is definitely not for those who have trouble walking and/or doing stairs.
 * Get there at the beginning (10 a.m.) and start the tour.  Most people seemed to come after lunch and the cottages were definitely more crowded.
* Go to the few houses (if any) that you need to ride a shuttle to first.  Again, after lunch, the shuttle lines are far more crowded.
* Take a picnic lunch.  There are benches in the woods near the playhouse, hall of philosophy and The Jigger Shop.  This saves time, is less crowded and obviously saves money.  There was food for sale at the hall of philosophy, but the selection is limited.  (Though, if they have double chocolate banana bread, make sure you buy a piece for dessert.)
* If you can't get to all the cottages, make sure that you see the ones surrounding The Tabernacle first.  They are definitely the most quaint.  And hearing the featured music floating from The Tabernacle while you visit the cottages really adds to the visit.
* Take your camera.  There are tons of great photo ops.

Below you'll find just a few photos of a wonderful day:

The Chautauqua Hall of Philosophy

Loved this apron curtain in the kitchen -

I have to mention a little regarding the first photo of the Chautauqua Hall of Philosophy because I so love the idea.  The Chautauqua movement was begun in the late 1800's as a means of bringing culture to rural communities.  Because people in the country didn't have easy access to the city, the culture of the city was brought to them through this movement.  A hall of philosophy would be set up in a rural town and good music, speakers, art, lectures and classes were a part of the program to enrich the lives of the residents.  Chautauqua programs still remain today throughout the world - one of which is here in Mt. Gretna.  You can pick up a program of daily events there which displays the wealth of opportunities to take part in.  It's, indeed, a place of great inspiration and ideas, and I look forward to returning.

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