The French Manor’s Interesting History
While most of the world was struggling to survive in the midst of the Great Depression of the1930’s, mining magnate Joseph Hirshhorn found himself awash in money. He decided to build a manor house to spend summers and the Christmas Holidays with his friends and family. To this end, he brought some 165 German and Italian craftsmen and artisans to 500 acres on Huckleberry Mountain in the heart of the Poconos of Pennsylvania to construct his “summer retreat.”
Using natural lumber and fieldstone from local quarries, the men spent the years 1935 to 1937 building Hirshhorn’s stone chateau with care and distinction. The roof is made of imported Spanish slate, the windows are all leaded glass and much of the interior wood is pecky cypress and cedar. The manor has an elegant Romanesque arched entranceway and massive stone fireplaces in the Great Room, now used as the Dining Room.
Upon its completion, Hirshhorn filled the home with part of his vast art collection. Many of the artisans and craftsmen settled in the area and their descendants continue to live here. Hirshhorn (who eventually donated much of his collection to the Smithsonian) eventually sold his home to Samuel H. Kress.
One of Joseph Hirshhorn’s daughters, Naomi Hirshhorn Campbell (AKA the “Old Lady of the Hills”) kindly posted some great “Then and Now” photos of what her family lovingly called the “Huckleberry Hill Farm”, now known as The French Manor. Visit her blog here.
Biographical references to Samuel Henry Kress (1863-1955) typically divide his life into three distinct phases: the hard-won struggles of his youth in rural Pennsylvania, the brilliance of his mercantile success with the S.H. Kress & Co. variety stores, and the extraordinary philanthropy associated with his incomparable collection of Italian art. Once common knowledge, the Kress story epitomized American opportunity and the virtues of stern discipline, vigorous hard work, and patriotic generosity. Upon his death, his wife gave the manor and its vast grounds to Bucknell University. Bucknell used the manor briefly for art restoration but eventually sold it to a developer who broke up the estate into smaller parcels. Dan and Carolyn Balish bought the manor house and the land around it and opened it up as a bed and breakfast in 1984.
After Dan’s death, Carolyn sold the French Manor to Ron and Mary Kay Logan, owners and operators of the nearby Sterling Inn. Ron had thirty years of inn-keeping expertise and saw the French Manor as an opportunity to create a uniquely elegant inn. Since purchasing the property in 1990, the Logan’s have transformed the French Manor into a full service romantic country inn. They have endeavored to keep the elegant flavor of the manor while making subtle and important changes. The kitchen was upgraded to accommodate dinner service and, the unoccupied Carriage House was remodeled into a guesthouse with two rooms and two suites. Most recently the Logan’s constructed the La Maisonneuve building (meaning the New House in French), which now houses six romantic suites each with a fireplace, Jacuzzi and a private balcony with the view of the Northern Pocono Mountains.
Our new Green Spa, Le Spa Foret, offers 5 additional fireplace and Jacuzzi suites all with private balconies with inspiring views. An indoor pool and hot tub as well as a fitness room adds to guests’ overall enjoyment at The French Manor. Spa treatments from pedicures to romantic couples’ massages are also available.