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Friday, July 28, 2017

Exploring Fort Hunter Mansion and Park in Harrisburg

Fort Hunter Mansion and Park in Harrisburg Pennsylvania
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park is located right along Front Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It's a beautiful riverfront park that sits right along the Susquehanna River. Visiting the park is FREE. It's open daily. You'll find two large parking lots with regular and handicap parking spaces.

Today's feature is on exploring the Fort Hunter Park and the services that they have to offer. We'll touch upon the history a little bit of the Mansion, but our main focus today is on the park itself and everything that you can do there.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park - Harrisburg Pennsylvania

The park is split in half by Front Street, so you'll need to decide which parking lot to park in. We'll describe each half of the park by calling the first half as the Mansion side and the second half as the Centennial Barn side. I'm sure they have more official names for them, but I find it easier to just call them by the name of the landmark located within each one.

On the Mansion side of the park you'll find the historic Fort Hunter Mansion, the Mansion Gardens, the Memorial for Mrs. Margaret Wister Meigs, picnic tables, riverfront swings, a covered picnic pavilion, horseshoe pit, public restrooms and a playground for the kids. At the very end of this parking can get some great views of the historic Rockville Bridge!
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Fort Hunter Mansion and Park in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

The Fort Hunter Mansion was built in three sections. The middle stone section was built by Archibald McAllister in 1786 and is the oldest structure on the property. In 1814 he added the elegant Federal style front section. The next owner, Daniel Dick Boas, added the rear wooden summer kitchen in 1870 and the house's decorative Victorian Italianate porches, balconies and trim. Helen and John Reily added the Colonial Revival front porch and color scheme around 1900.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

If you walk to the right side of the Mansion you'll find the entrance to the Gardens. It's a small floral gardening area and right behind that you'll see an excavation area (roped off) and that's where researchers have been digging, looking for historical artifacts and fossils. You'll want to stay on the walking paths when walking around in this area.
Fort Hunter Mansion Garden Historical Marker in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

There is an admission fee if you want to take a guided tour inside Fort Hunter Mansion. If you're looking for the gift shop, that is located around the right side of the mansion and has some really cool souvenirs and gifts. Please note: These are guided tours which means you may have to wait a little bit before your tour begins.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Right in front of the mansion you'll find a memorial that was set up to honor Mrs. Margaret Wister Meigs. The memorial was constructed by Henry Varnum Poor, and is constructed of bricks from her home in Washington D.C. I'm not sure when this memorial was made, but it's starting to look a little shabby. Hopefully they will keep an eye on that and perhaps get it restored.
Margaret Wister Meigs Historical Marker at Fort Hunter in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Let me mention the picnic facilities throughout the park. There are two large covered picnic pavilions with one being on each side of the park. Then...sprinkled throughout the park (both sides) and mainly underneath shaded areas, you'll find various wooden picnic tables that you can use. If you want to reserve one of the covered picnic pavilion areas, you need to plan ahead and call them up to arrange it. It's first-come, first-serve. If one of the pavilions isn't being used on a particular day, by all means, feel free to use it. Otherwise, you'll have to enjoy your picnic at one of the tables scattered throughout the park.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park - The Centennial Barn

To get to the Centennial Barn side of the park, you'll want to cross Front Street using the official crosswalk area. The traffic can be a little bit of a hassle, especially if you're trying to cross during rush hour. Just make sure that your careful when crossing and ALWAYS cross in the designated crosswalk.
The Centennial Barn Historical Marker at Fort Hunter Park in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

The Centennial Barn side of Fort Hunter Park has a large parking lot that you can use. There are sidewalks and walking trails to help you navigate through the different areas.  You'll find Centennial Barn is one of the main draws to this side. It's a beautiful barn that has been lovingly restored. I love the "gothic" style features! Throughout the year, they will host various events & gatherings in Centennial Barn for guests to enjoy.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park - Everhart Covered Bridge

If you look to the right of the barn you'll find the famous Everhart Covered Bridge. Pennsylvania is known worldwide for having some of the best covered bridges in the world. This one was built in 1881 and was originally to span the Little Buffalo Creek in Perry County. It was torn down and moved to Fort Hunter Mansion & Park after Mrs. Meigs purchased it for $70.00 back in 1940. It was moved and rebuilt in front of the mansion. Then torn down & stored during park construction and rebuilt in it's now current location. You can read all about it's history when visiting the park and looking for the historic park markers.
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park - Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Fort Hunter Mansion and Park - Harrisburg Pennsylvania

In this section of the park you'll find a playground area for the kids, the second covered picnic pavilion, separate picnic table areas, public restrooms, walking trails and paths and a ball field that you can enjoy. On the day that we were there, we noticed a little dog-walking path that runs behind this section and up on a hill. One of the things we loved about this side of the park is all of the LARGE old trees which provide you with plenty of shaded areas.
Fort Hunter Mansion Historical Marker in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Historical Marker: Fort Hunter

Stockaded blockhouse, built 1755-56, on site of present Fort Hunter Museum. Used to protect the frontier and as a supply base in building Fort Augusta. Abandoned and fell into ruins after 1763.

Fort Hunter Mansion is open May through December for guided tours and scheduled events. You will have to pay an admission fee for the tour. The Fort Hunter Park is open year-round and is FREE for visitors to enjoy. If you want to explore the park, I suggest that you head to their little Welcome Center and Map station which lays it all out nicely for you. Seriously, it's really easy to get around!

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