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Holbrook C. Lawson
The Lodge at Glendorn
Sharing an Historic Family Estate with the Public
The Lodge at Glendorn
The Lodge at Glendorn, a 1,280-acre estate nestled behind gracious
wrought-iron gates in the Allegheny forests of Western Pennsylvania,
is the creation of my great-grandfather,
Clayton Glenville Dorn, who earned a prosperous living in the oil business,
first working as an oil broker for John D.Rockerfeller. His love for
the outdoors inspired him to build a cabin for his family on a beautiful
piece of property near Bradford in the 1920s. Over the years, a large
lodge (known as the Big House) was added, as were twelve other residences
to accommodate our family and many friends who visited.
My family is gregarious and loves the out-of-doors. We enjoy different
types of recreation, learning about nature, excellent cuisine, and a
rollicking good time. Consequently, we have been gathering at Glendorn
for nearly eighty years, spanning six generations. For me, it is one
of life's rare opportunities where numerous generations of a family
can gather and enjoy each other. Think about how many people don't even
get to see their siblings!
For decades, the estate was a private compound. However, with some family
members moving out of the area and the difficulties of managing such
a property ever-increasing, we decided to share our family retreat with
the public and become part of Relais & Chateaux, an association
of quality hotels and restaurants.
I remember being nervous when we first opened our doors to guests in
1995. Would they enjoy what we do and would they invoke the name of
Glendorn with reverence as the family does? To my delight, guests use
the property as we do. I've seen them darting off to Lake Bondieu with
fly-rods or lingering in the Big House after having a superb lunch and
doing some needlepoint. I've seen guests shooting skeet, hiking to the
Hideout, or snowshoeing along the 18 miles of trails. After a fabulous
dinner, I've also seen guests excitedly playing "Poo Denver,"
a game invented by my great-grandfather. I must say that hearing the
participants play "Poo Denver" with shrieks of glee as they
win (and sighs of dissatisfaction as they lose) makes me believe that
my family members are playing at that moment.
Of the numerous cabins on the property, many hold fond personal memories
for me. One such cabin that I adore above all is the "Roost"
which was my grandmother's cabin. She married her childhood sweetheart,
Bill Bird and, as a result, this is where the Birds came home to roost!
On entering the 1930s cabin, I can still smell the Pecky Cypress wood
that provided a warm glow around my grandparents and all those who came
to stay. I recall many nights staying up late with my cousins, exchanging
childhood secrets, and eating Jiffy Pop Popcorn made on the original
It seems so much in life today is transitional, fleeting, or disposable.
Glendorn is not. I've found that life pauses for a brief time when I
go there. It holds back the hands of time and allows me to recharge
my batteries and re-establish my foundation in life. I love to hike
in the woods and remember that my world is not always a concrete city,
but also a world of beautiful Cherry, Hemlock, Maple, and White Pine
trees, where love, happiness, and creation can renew as it has for generations.
And I'm grateful that Glendorn, can now be enjoyed as an elegant, yet
comfortable, retreat by all who enter her gates.
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