Hartwood, a 629 acre county park, is better known as Hartwood Acres to those who love to visit the Tudor mansion, stables and grounds during all four seasons of the year. No matter what you call the popular park, Hartwood has an identity all its own in the Pittsburgh area, with events ranging from high tea to free concerts on summer evenings to nature classes to cross country skiing to one of the area’s largest holiday light displays.
Thousands of Pittsburghers walk the grounds of the mansion and its surrounding grounds every year, many bringing along their dogs to let them run loose in the off-leash dog areas. Bicyclists and horseback riders also make use of both paved and rough trails, spending quiet time in the woods. Other special events include nature walks, gardening workshops, a summer natural history tour and walk, and July’s annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival with proceeds benefitting the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The mansion, which was built in 1929 and designed by Alfred Hopkins for John and Mary Flinn Lawrence, and the stables, are both open for guided tours. Afterwards, you can stroll through the formal gardens next to the mansion, or take a moment to simply sit on one of the outdoor benches and enjoy the serene setting and some of the unique sculptures. Photographers will find subjects to shoot throughout the year.
At the holidays, evening candlelight tours of the mansion are available, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning decorations in all of the public rooms of the mansion. This year’s theme is English, and decorations designed and created by volunteers throughout the past year will grace the rooms. This year’s focal point will be a stunning hand-carved and gold-gilded replica of the Royal Golden State Coach, which will serve as centerpiece on the mansion’s dining room table. The original coach was created in 1762 and has been used in the coronation of every British monarch since George IV.
The Hartwood Celebration of Lights, a three mile drive, lights up the park with millions of lights adorning trees and holiday displays, and features themes like The Twelve Days of Christmas, dancing bears and prancing deer. The light display — open daily this year from November 19, 2010 to January 9, 2011– draws more than one half million people annually. Comfy in their warm cars with their headlights off, visitors can drive slowly through the winter wonderland brought to life with lights and animation.
When snow covers the ground, visitors can enjoy the park’s acres for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.