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The hundreds of cottages throughout Mt. Gretna showcase the area’s unique history.
These cottages are mainly distributed throughout three areas of Mt. Gretna, known as the Campmeeting, Chautauqua, and the Heights.
All photos are by LebTown photographer Will Trostel, unless otherwise noted. Photos taken with permission of homeowners.
The Campmeeting was established in 1892 by the United Brethren as part of the “camp meeting” movement that swept the nation during that era. The camp meeting movement consisted of hundreds to thousands of people gathering in one place to worship together.
During the summer months, many people traveled to the Campmeeting in Mt. Gretna to be a part of the religious festivities. The cottages of the Campmeeting were built to provide summer residences for these camp meeting attendees.
There are 228 cottages in total in the Campmeeting, many of which date back to the area’s founding.
The majority of these cottages were built by locally based carpenters, predominantly in the styles of Gothic Revival and Queen Anne. Both of these architectural styles were commonly found in 19th-century religious camp meeting sites.
Each cottage is uniquely designed and has a distinct character. To represent this, many of them have names.
Due to its historical significance in religion and architecture, the Campmeeting was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
The Chautauqua is a slightly later development that is located to the West of the Campmeeting.
Although the Chautauqua and the Campmeeting were developed at the same time, they were distinctly separate. Chautauqua even had a separate government from the Campmeeting.
The Chautauqua was established as part of an educational and social movement by the same name. This movement, which was based on the idea that learning continued throughout life, consisted of people coming together to culturally enrich themselves.
In 1892, the Chautauqua’s first year, Chancellor Max Hark established 27 courses of study across the Chautauqua movement’s four pillars of culture, religion, the arts and recreation. Every summer since then, similar courses have been offered in Mt. Gretna to continue the tradition, although this summer’s programming is being offered online instead.
Read More: The Pennsylvania Chautauqua to hold free Zoom programs throughout summer
A reflection of the area’s focus on education, most of the streets in Chautauqua are named after high-ranking universities, including Yale, Brown, Temple, Wesleyan, and Vassar, among others.
The cottages throughout the Chautauqua mainly represent the popular Bungalow and Craftsman architectural styles of the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries. Like those in the Campmeeting, these cottages were intended to be summer residences.
The Chautauqua development was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 due to its significance in the areas of social history, entertainment and recreation, and architecture.
Cottages in the Heights
The Heights development sits East of the Campmeeting. Developed in the 1920s, it is the most recent development in historic Mt. Gretna.
The cottages in the Heights are designed in a variety of styles, from old-fashioned log cabins to more modern structures. Unlike the Campmeeting and the Chautauqua, these cottages were intended to be year-round residences.
Overall, whether they are located in the Campmeeting, the Chautauqua, or the Heights, the cottages in Mt. Gretna are charming reminders of the area’s significant history.
All information, unless otherwise noted, is from this article.
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