Snuggled within 102 acres of lush forest lies a significant piece of Pennsylvania history: Grey Towers. This little-known mansion in Pennsylvania beckons visitors with its inspirational story and breathtaking setting. It promises a visit that will profoundly affect them and perhaps even change some people’s views on the importance of conservation.
Little did anyone know when James and Mary Pinchot built Grey Towers in Milford in 1886, that the beginning of a new era, one that would forever change the national landscape, would soon be born.
After moving into the sprawling estate, Mr. Pinchot began to notice how easily Americans wasted the natural resources around them.
He shared his concern for the environment and for nature with his son, Gifford, encouraging the younger Pinchot to pursue a career in forestry. Gifford, as a result, would spark a new idea to America – conservation.
That idea translated into the U.S. Forest Service, founded by Gifford who also served as the organization's first chief.
But, Gifford realized that his conservation efforts could be propelled forward even further if he secured a political position.
Gifford successfully ran for governor of Pennsylvania twice and continued his life's mission of conservation until his death in 1946.
Grey Towers remained in the care of the Pinchot family until the early 1960s and, in 1963, the family donated both the mansion and the 102 acres surrounding it to the U.S. Forest Service, a fitting gift from the family of the “Father of the U.S. Forest Service.”
Today, the Grey Towers Heritage Association welcomes visitors to tour both the mansion and the grounds and plays a pivotal role in public education about conservation. Schoolchildren are introduced to conservation through the association's school and youth programs. Grey Towers created the Hike with Smokey program, specifically for children and families with children. The easy hike teaches children about the forest and fire prevention through fun activities and a stuffed Smokey Bear.
Individuals of all ages are welcome to attend public talks, public walks, literary events, and mansion tours.
Grey Towers welcomes visitors to tour the mansion and the surrounding grounds from May 28 through October 31. Guided daily tours, which introduce visitors to the inspirational story of the Pinchot family, leave every hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the Forest Discovery Trail behind Grey Towers. The half-a-mile trail, described as easy for hikers of all abilities, introduces visitors to the idea of forest health and teaches them about the ecosystems within the forest.
Get a firsthand lesson on the trees that call Grey Towers home. As you stroll through the mansion grounds, you'll discover placards on trees with interesting factual tidbits about each individual tree.
The Pinchots played a significant role in Milford and lived in several other homes in the area. Visitors to the area can pick up a self-guided walking tour map that will lead them through the buildings in which the family used or built, providing an important look into the full impact the Pinchot family had on Milford.
Those who live near Milford can get involved even further, donating their time and their skills to the historic mansion and grounds that have played such an important role in our history.
Visiting Grey Towers promises an inspiring and an enriching experience. Visitors will get to know the man, known as the “Father of the U.S. Forest Service,” and how his passion has impacted – and will continue to impact – conservation efforts for generations.
While Grey Towers certainly deserves the top spot for any Pennsylvania bucket list, you’ll find there are many other places that beckon visitors, including these
10 marvels in Pennsylvania that must be seen to be believed.