The history of the Ironmaster’s Mansion at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners traces back to an industrious era in Cumberland County.
Peter Ege built the mansion in 1829 for his wife, Jane. It is of red-brick construction and an English-Tudor style.
Ege owned the Pine Grove Iron Works, a large operation nestled along Mountain Creek that began operation in 1771. His father, Michael Ege, made his money as an iron mogul who purchased the Pine Grove Iron Works in 1782.
“Master of the House” is the rip-roaring song from the Broadway Classic “Les Misérables” that touts the virtues of an inn master in France.
By the time of Michael Ege’s death in 1815 he owned the Cumberland Furnace in Huntsdale, the Mt. Holly Iron Works and the Carlisle Iron Works at Boiling Springs. Ege’s children then divided up those properties. Though the Pine Grove furnace was deeded to Ege’s two daughter’s, Peter, the eldest son, gained control after legal proceedings in partition.
After the Pine Grove Furnace went bankrupt during the Panic of 1837, the ironworks and the estate passed through the hands of numerous powerful figures including Frederick Watts, who founded Penn State University in 1855, and Jay Cooke, a bond salesman who was the wealthiest man in America at the end of the Civil War.
The Appalachian Trail Museum on Tuesday announced it will assume responsibility for operating the Ironmaster’s Mansion Hostel at the start of …
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The ironworks reached peak production in 1883 with an output of 6,000 net tons of iron and closed in 1895 due to the development of new technologies.
In 1913 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased what was left of the ironworks and the 17,000 acres that surrounded it to be part of the Forest Reserve System. A portion of that land then became Pine Grove Furnace State Park.
The mansion is now used as a hostel by people hiking the Appalachian Trail, which cuts through the state park. The mansion is just down the road from the Appalachian Trail Museum and 3 miles due north of the trail’s halfway point.
Twenty-eight beds are available in the hostel. Tours are available to the public every Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The mansion can also be rented for receptions, meetings and group events.
Cumberland Valley is filled with hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The mansion closed in 2010 due to deteriorating conditions. A huge effort to restore the mansion to its original shape was coordinated and funded by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. After volunteers contributed over 5,000 hours of labor, the mansion re-opened in April 2011.
Information for this article was sourced from Cumberland County: An Architectural Survey, which was authored by Nancy Van Dolsen, The Charcoal Iron Industry of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania 1750-1895, which was authored by Randy Watts and Ironmaster’s Mansion hostel in Pine Grove Furnace State Park fills up after renovations, written by Marcus Schneck for Penn Live in 2011.