Historic Harrisburg’s 41st Annual Candlelight House Tour
“A Resounding Success!”
Features of Bellevue Park and Reservoir Park Depicted “Preserving the City Beautiful”
The Eugenia Smith Family Life Center, formerly known as the Caretaker's Mansion at Reservoir Park, was a special feature of Historic Harrisburg's 2014 Candlelight House Tour which expressed the theme, "Preserving the City Beautiful."
The 41st Annual Candlelight House, December 14, 2014, has been deemed a resounding success by property owners, attendees and volunteers alike! Many positive comments were heard during the tour, and the Historic Harrisburg Association (HHA) office has been receiving complimentary and positive feedback as well.
Titled “Preserving the City Beautiful,” this year’s tour showcased outstanding properties in Harrisburg’s scenic Bellevue Park neighborhood as well as key features and landmarks of adjoining Reservoir Park, the unique City-owned hilltop campus that combines park and recreation amenities withthreeenclosed reservoirs that serve the Capital Region Water system. Presented together, Bellevue Park and Reservoir Park are emblematic of Harrisburg’s nationally-recognized “City Beautiful” residential and infrastructure achievements of a century ago that remain well preserved today.
The 2014 tour was co-chaired by longtime HHA veterans Carl Marshall and Jeb Stuart, each of whom chaired Candlelight House Tours in the 1980s, bringing a wealth of experience, expertise and community contacts to this year’s endeavor.
While Marshall focused on assembling a stunning array of properties from among his Bellevue Park neighbors (including his own house on Bellevue Road), Stuart focused on creating a comprehensive presentation of the heritage and significance of Reservoir Park, highlighted by two major landmarks that were opened for the tour, Reservoir Park’s original 1897 “caretaker’s mansion, recently renamed the Eugenia Smith Family Life Center (a memorial to the late City Councilwoman), and the Tudor-style 1911 former pumping station, now a multi-purpose facility called “the Brownstone".
Two groups with important ties to Reservoir Park played key roles during the tour. Capital Region Water, the newly-reorganized urban water system, served as host at the Brownstone, with educational exhibits on the history and current initiatives of the water system. At the Eugenia Smith Center, which serves today as the headquarters of the public-private Harrisburg Parks Partnership and as thefuturehome of the Harrisburg City Archives, host duties were handled by representatives of Gamut Theatre Group, whose highly acclaimed summer series, “Shakespeare in the Park,” takes place in Reservoir Park’s hillside Levitt Pavilion band shell.
In addition to nine homes in Bellevue Park representing its rich array of architectural styles, the Bellevue Park Community Building served as tour headquarters, staffed by volunteers from Historic Harrisburg Association and the Bellevue Park Community Association, the park’s venerable self-governing and social organization. Exhibits on the history of Bellevue Park, created by longtime Park resident and historian Dan Deibler, were on display, along with copies of the 2009 book, “Bellevue Park, The First 100 Years,” the centennial book co-authored by Judge Jeannine Turgeon, a Park resident, and Professor Michael Barton of the Penn State Harrisburg history department
Rounding out the tour’s roster of 15 properties were two nearby landmarks, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 19th and Market Streets, built in 1910, which presented complimentary refreshments and a full afternoon of live music, and the Allison Hook & Ladder Company firehouse, built in 1907, now owned by Harrisburg firefighter Jason Lloyd, who is restoring it with the help of many volunteer friends. Lastly, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence, a traditional perennial participant in the Candlelight House Tour, was open for tours and presented live music and refreshments as well.
Mid Penn Bank, a longtime friend of the Historic Harrisburg Association, again served as presenting sponsor of the Candlelight House Tour. Additional sponsors were WCI Partners, LP; Penn National Insurance; The Burg Foundation; Highland Gardens; Bellevue Park Community Association; Capital Region Water; and TLA Communications.
Launched by Historic Harrisburg Association in 1973 (the year of HHA’s founding), the Candlelight House Tour (always the second Sunday in December) showcases extraordinary and unusual examples of historic city living, adaptive reuse of historic structures, and emerging neighborhood trends. Over its 41-year history, the Candlelight House Tour has showcased hundreds of outstanding homes and other structures to a cumulative audience that now numbers in the tens of thousands. As such, no single activity has had a greater cumulative impact on the popularity, visibility, attractiveness – and property values! – of Harrisburg’s historic urban neighborhoods.
Historic Harrisburg Association was founded by dauntless and visionary grassroots activists in 1973 in the aftermath of two devastating events, the demolition of the spectacular State Theatre and the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Agnes. A non-profit educational and advocacy organization, with membership open to all regardless of geographic residence, HHA’s mission is “historic preservation, urban revitalization and smart growth since 1973!”
The 42nd Annual Candlelight House Tour will be presented Sunday, December 13, 2015. Details will be announced in September. For more information about HHA’s year-round calendar of walking tours, educational programs, special events, membership and volunteer opportunities, contact us at www.historicharrisburg.com or 717.233.4646.
The Presenting sponsor for the 2014 Candlelight House Tour