Otherwise known as the Gifford Pinchot House, Grey Towers is the historic stone house that once belonged to Gifford Pinchot, a two-time governor of Pennsylvania and first ever chief of the US Forest Service.
The house – or, rather, mansion – is built in a French architectural style as an homage to the Pinchot family’s French heritage. It’s three stories tall, with round, grey stone towers rising from three of the corners… hence the name. In addition to the beauty of the house, the grounds are likewise magnificent. The landscaping is immaculate, and the view from the lawn is extensive.
A tour of the grounds is free and self-guided. Entry into the house itself (aside from the museum and gift shop) is by guided tour and costs $8 per person. As we were on the way home from our Memorial Weekend camping trip and didn’t have a lot of time to spare, we opted to just do the free activities and then eat a picnic lunch on the front lawn before heading home.
I’d love to return some day and tour the inside of the house, because I’m sure it’s every bit as stunning as the exterior. In the meantime, an assortment of photos from our visit are below.
The Important Stuff:
- Getting there: located 5 mins off I-84 along US 6 East in Milford, PA
- Fees & passes: entry, parking, and self-guided tour of the grounds is free; guided 1-hour tours of the house are $8 per person (interagency annual pass NOT accepted)
- Camping: none at the National Historic Site, but many camping and hotel options in the surrounding area
- Hiking: none
- Other: the website and signs on site warn of the 600 foot (183 m), inclined walk up to the mansion from the parking area, so if you’re planning to attend a tour, make sure to arrive early enough to allow time for this walk
6 thoughts on “Grey Towers National Historic Site, Pennsylvania”
Pinchot was an interesting guy. I have read some books about him. I had not idea this was so close to me here in Ohio.
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Huh. I don’t know much about him since we didn’t actually go on the guided tour. It is a neat place to stop and see if you’re ever headed that way though.
That roof over the pool is so neat!! I never knew this place existed- I’ll have to check it out should I ever make it back east.
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I think it’s not super well known. I can’t remember how I learned of it. A nice place to spend a couple of hours though!
I learned about Gifford Pinchot at the Biltmore in NC. The Biltmore’s owner George W Vanderbilt and Pinchot were great friends and the trio that developed that land also included Fredrick Law Olmsted who designed Central park in NYC. Vanderbilt hired Olmsted as his landscape designer and Pinchot as his botanist and the three developed that great property that is still there today. Vanderbilt owned 125,000 acres and at the urging of Olmstead he employed Pinchot to manage the forest areas of his estate. It was here under Pinchot’s direction that the concept of “managed forest” was developed; using a forests resources wisely to profit while still promoting protection and sustainability for the forest. From this experience Pinchot was named the 1st director of the U.S. Forest Service.The land that Pinchot managed was the first managed forest in the U.S. and today is known as the Pisgah National Forest after 87000 acres were sold to the federal Government to settle Vanderbilt’s wish that a National Forest be developed in the area. Interestingly the architect of the Biltmore was Richard Morris Hunt who designed among other things the base of the Statue of Liberty and most of the Vanderbilt the mansions of Newport Rhode Island
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Neat! One of these days we’ll have to go to the Biltmore. I remember seeing your photos of it and it looks incredible! Much bigger than Grey Towers, I’m sure. I recognize Hunt’s name from this past spring when we went to the Statue of Liberty. So strange, how all of these are connected!