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Holbrook C. Lawson
The Lodge at Glendorn
Bradford, Pennsylvania

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 Vulcan stove.

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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