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The two RV Gypsies went to
Grey Towers National Historic Site
Milford, Pennsylvania
October 3, 2014
sign: Welcome to Grey Towers

Grey Towers National Historic Site, also known as Gifford Pinchot House or The Pinchot Institute, is located just off US 6 west of Milford, Pennsylvania. It is the ancestral home of Gifford Pinchot, first director of the United States Forest Service (USFS) and twice elected governor of Pennsylvania.

The house was built in the style of a French chateau to reflect the Pinchot family's French origins. Situated on the hills above Milford, it overlooks the Delaware River. Pinchot grew up there and returned during the summers when his later life took him to Washington and Harrisburg. His wife Cornelia made substantial changes to the interior of the home and gardens, in collaboration with several different architects, during that time.

In 1963 his family donated it and the surrounding 102 acres to the Forest Service; it is the only U.S. National Historic Site managed by that agency. Three years later the Department of the Interior designated it a National Historic Landmark. Today it is open to the public for tours and hiking on its trails; it is also home to the Pinchot Institute, which carries on his work in conservation.

The grounds are open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through early November. Guided tours home and gardens start every hour on the hour from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; there is a fee except for July 4 and September 22 (U.S. Public Lands Day). There is also a gift shop.

Below: The entrance from the parking lot and the building where the two RV Gypsies bought tickets for the inside tour, plus a round window that Karen Duquette liked, and some beautiful flowers.

ticket office at Grey Towers
a round window
flowers at the entrance to Grey Towers

The mansion itself is a three-story L-shaped fieldstone chateau. Conical roofed towers at three of the corners gave the property its name. A service wing juts out from the fourth corner.

As originally built, it contained 43 rooms, with the first floor featuring a large entrance hall, billiard room, dining room, library and sitting room. Bedrooms are located on the second floor, with more on the third floor plus storage spaces and children's playrooms.

The front of the mansion

The back of the mansion

The front of the mansion
The back of the mansion

Below: Forest Service Department of Agriculture Building and a walkway to the rest of the grounds.

Forest Service Dept of Agriculture building
red tree

In the late 1920s, the Letter Box was added. It is a small cottage intended both as an archive for Governor Pinchot's papers and an office for his political staff when he was in residence, thus isolating the office functions from the main house. Now it is used as an exhibit and public program area, and also serves as a theater where the two RV Gypsies viewed films about Grey Towers and grounds.

Sign: The Letter Box
inside The Letter Box
inside The Letter Box

In the early 1930s, William Lawrence Bottomley created an unique addition known as the Finger Bowl, an outdoor dining area consisting of a raised pool surrounded by a flat ledge. Chairs were pulled up to the ledge and food was served from bowls floating on the water. It was sheltered by a wisteria-covered arbor supported by 12 stone piers.

sign: The Finger Bowl
Lee Duquette entering The Finger Bowl
The Finger Bowl
Lee Duquette at The Finger Bowl

Looking up through the top of
The Finger Bowl.

Beautiful flowers by
The Finger Bowl.

the roof of The Finger Bowl
flowers by The Finger Bowl

Lee looked out at Karen
through The Finger Bowl.

A cooking area.

Lee Duquette at The Finger Bowl
A cooking area.

Cornelia Pinchot's Long Garden with a narrow pool was designed to draw the eye to the Bait Box and create a "natural hallway" to the room.

Long Garden with narrow pool and Lee Duquette

Lee spotted some caterpillars in the pool, so Karen took photographs.


The Bait Box was a playhouse for the couple's son, Gifford Bryce Pinchot. Elliptical openings in the stone walls around the courtyard provided views over the surrounding landscape. It is a stone and frame structure that in later years served as a tea room for Cormelia Pinchot. Named for the family's love of fishing, the Bait Box provided a quiet respite from the activities of the main residence.

Karen Duquette at The Bait Box
The Bait Box design
The Bait Box door
cherub at The Bait Box

The stone wall on the east side of the small courtyard features an oval aperture overlooking the grounds. Karen Duquette is seen below, looking into the Bait Box patio entrance.

Karen Duquette looking through the oval aperture
Karen Duquette looking through the oval aperture

Below: The back of the house and a close-up of the bust of Pinchot that is embedded in the middle of the second floor.

back of the house
bust of Pinchot

The two RV Gypsies walked from the back of the house, past a tall eagle column and flowers, and down some stairs.

eagle column
a flower

A caterpillar on the stairs

A caterpillar on the stairs
Lee Duquette by the pond
turkey time
a view into the city
a well-maintained lawn

Karen Duquette had fun playing in the fall leaves at "The Tunnel of Trees."

Karen Duquette in the tree
Karen Duquette playing in the fall leaves
Karen Duquette playing in the fall leaves
Karen Duquette playing in the fall leaves

The Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa or Benthamidia kousa) is a small deciduous tree 26 - 39 feet tall, native to Korea, much of China, Japan, Taiwan, Sikkim, Bhutan and the Ryukyu Islands. It is also reportedly naturalized in Hawaii, Connecticut and New York. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental.

The Kousa Dogwood is sometimes also called Chinese Dogwood, Korean Dogwood, or Japanese Dogwood. The fruit is a globose pink to red compound berry, and is an edible, sweet and delicious addition to the tree's ornamental value. The fruit is sometimes used for making wine. It is resistant to the dogwood anthracnose disease.

Kousa Dogwood label
Kousa Dogwood tree
Kousa Dogwood tree and berries
Kousa Dogwood berry
dedication plaque
Pinchot Timeline Trail sign

The two RV Gypsies took a short walk on the Pinchot Timeline Trail that led to the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Laurel Hill Cemetery. sign
cemetery sign
Menu for the two RV Gypsies in Pennsylvania
October 2-8, 2014
You may visit these 11 sections in any order you choose.

Raymondskill Falls

Grey Towers National Historic Site (this page)

Jervis Gordon Grist Mill

Amazing tree sculpture in Milford

fall foliage

Hawk Mountain in Kempton

Coal Miner Statue in Minersville

Gettysburg National Military Park

River Beach Campsites in Milford

Echo Valley Campground in Tremont

Artillery Ridge Camping Resort in Gettysburg

look below

Please continue on to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesAFTER you have viewed all eleven (11) sections above, please continue on to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Even if you are not a big fan of aquariums, you should enjoy this one. Thank you for visiting this website.