Sunday, September 04, 2016

My book about Hartwood will be out this month. The book is titled "Reflections of Hartwood". The final proof is being approved this week, with publication to soon follow.

We will be doing a book signing at the Hartwood mansion sometime this fall, check back as I will list the date and time.

The new website is up to promote the book -

Stay tuned for more updates.............

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hello everyone,

Wow, its been awhile since I have checked my blog. The good news is that my book about Hartwood - "Reflections of Hartwood" - is going to be completed by Labor Day!

I am setting up a website this month that will allow me to sell online.

I will update this blog once the book is out. Thank you everyone for checking in, I have received many emails from people that have found this blog and contacted me about their recollections of Hartwood.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Organ restored at mansion!

The organ that was a gift to Mary Lawrence around 1910 has been restored at the mansion! We attended the organ recital held at Hartwood this past Sunday.

Click the link to the story on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pictures of Dad and Bill in horseshows - 1944

Hello all, I just wanted to post a few pictures of Dad, Bill and Mary riding either at Hartwood or some horse shows. More to follow - enjoy!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hello everyone!

I freshened the blog up a bit tonight and (hopefully) made it easier to read. I hope that everyone is having a great Spring and that you all can get out to Hartwood to enjoy the weather.

We are mourning the loss of our Dad from this past December, some days are better than others. Dad really loved Hartwood - from the grounds to the Docents, staff, and visitors. He really loved visiting and interacting with the visitors.

If you knew Dad please post some comments and share your thoughts with us. We will be heading to Hartwood sometime this summer for a visit. Our first visit back after Dad's passing will be emotional but healing at the same time.

I have some great photos of Hartwood to post in the coming months, stop back to check them out.

Take care,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The passing of John W. Lawrence Jr

Hello everyone,

I am sorry to say that my father John W. Lawrence Jr. passed away on December 21, 2011 in Grove City, Pa. Dad fought a long and courageous battle against cancer that he lost on that day.

Hartwood held a special place in Dad's heart and his absence will be felt at Hartwood.

RIP Dad, we all miss you.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Hello !!!!!!!!

Hello Fans of Hartwood!

Sorry there have been no new posts lately, but please visit us on Facebook under "Fans of Hartwood Acres" Please visit and become our friend.

I will update this blog with some great news shortly.

Until then,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mary Flinn Lawrence on the cover of Western Pennsylvania History magazine Summer 2011

Thanks to an email from a friend in Pittsburgh I found out today that my grandmother Mary Flinn Lawrence is on the cover of the Summer 2011 edition of the Western Pennsylvanie History magazine published by the Heinz History Center.

Go to their website at to order your copy today. I ordered mine tonight and will post once I have read the article.

Enjoy your summer, these are the days we wished we had back in January!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fox's Locke & Key filmed at Hartwood

A little snippet from Pittsburgh Post Gazette.......... Check out the mansion in the background of the posted photo.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Yet another picture of Braemar!

Here is yet another picture of Braemar for all you Braemar fans!

I purchased this picture from eBay last week. To see some great details in the photograph simply double click the image. Braemar is the house to the right.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another pic of Braemar

I found this postcard dated 1906 on eBay. It clearly shows that Braemar was located to the right of the entrance to Highland Park. In the postcard Braemar is on the far right of the right entrance column.
Hint: To "supersize" the picture just click on it and it will make the picture much larger so you can see the details.

More pics to follow.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Braemar picture #2

This is another picture of Braemar that I found on eBay the other day. Braemar was located at the entrance of Highland Park. From other pictures I have seen it appears as if Braemar was the first house on the right when entering Highland Park. The physical address was 1455 N. Highland Ave. Pittsburgh, Pa. The house has long since been torn down, I am still trying to find the date when this occured.

Braemar picture #1

Here is an ad that I found one day while I was surfing the web. It is an ad from Architectural Digest from November 1921 featuring Seantor Flinn's home Braemar that is being used to advertise the gas boiler that was used in the home. I purchased the ad from a seller on eBay.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

New Fox series being filmed at Hartwood mansion this month!

Check out the link to the new Fox series being filmed at the Hartwood mansion this month. The series will be released this summer!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Looking for Josh

We are looking for our friend Josh Wisniewski that took some of the beautiful photos of Hartwood that are posted on this blog.

Josh, if you see this post please email me!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! We are heading down to Hartwood today to see the wonderful lights display. I hope everyone has a healthy and safe new years and check back for more Hartwood postings soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Orienteering at Hartwood April 10, 2011

Like in previous years, the Western Pa. Orienteering Club will have an event at Hartwood Acres, starting from the concert area at Middle Road. Orienteering is a land navigation sport, where participants find hidden flags in the woods by using only a topographic map and compass as aids to locate the flags. The event is scheduled for April 10, 2011 and anyone can register anytime between 11 AM and 2 PM, cost is $5.00/map. Family or group can share the one map purchased and cost is still just $5.00 for the entire group.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hartwood Acres Facebook page (click here)

Hello friends,

Sorry that I have not posted much here lately. Please check out our Hartwood page on Facebook. Just click the link above to be taken to our Hartwood Acres Facebook page. There are lots of great updates and listings of what is happening at Hartwood this summer - lots of great concerts and events to attend - most free.

My daughter and I will be at Hartwood this Saturday 7/24/10 to shoot some video of the mansion and grounds. I will post the video when I can.

There has been a discovery at Hartwood lately - a horse graveyard. I am investigating this and will report on what I find.

Until then, take care and have a great remainder of your summer!

Jeff L.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hartwood Lights needs new sponsor!

Rite Aid is not sponsoring the Hartwood Lights show anymore. They have done a fantastic job the last 18 years and have raised lots of money for worthy charities. Let's hope they find another corporate sponsor soon.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

John and Mary's Wedding Video!


This wedding video was taken June 11, 1914 (Mary Flinn was 27 years old, John W. Lawrence was 24 years old). The reception was shot at Braemar, the Pittsburgh home of Senator William Flinn. Pretty good film quality for an event that took place 94 years ago.

If you look closely at the bridal table you will see the white swan fountain centerpiece, this is the same fountain seen at the Hartwood mansion today, it is located in the hallway connector between the library and great hall.

This video was transferred to a Mini DV tape from an original 16mm family film that we have had in our family for many years. I wanted to share this film clip with my Hartwood fans, only a few people had seen this clip prior to today.

Enjoy and PLEASE post your comments as I am interested to read your thoughts on this video.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mary and her dogs.

I just found this picture of Mary and her beloved dogs, these dogs are buried in the pet cemetary adjacent to the flower garden. One of the dogs is named Teddy, the other dogs are unidentified. This picture was taken behind the mansion sometime in the mid to late 1930's. This same picture can be seen in the linen room located on the 2nd floor of the mansion near the servants quarters.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Flinn family pics!

These pictures of the Flinn family were given to me this week by Mason Flinn, great grandson of Mary Flinn's brother George Flinn.


This is an undated picture of Senator Flinn and his wife Nancy Galbreath Flinn with their 4 sons. Son George Flinn is seated in the front row and in the back row from the left is Ralph Flinn, Arthur Flinn and Rex Flinn.

This is an undated picture of Senator Flinn ("Boss" Bill Flinn as noted on the side of the photo). We are not sure of the identity of the other man in the photo. Senator Flinn is the man in the foreground. Thanks to Mason Flinn for sending me these photos!
Make sure you check out and join the "Fans of Hartwood Acres" FaceBook page that we started a few weeks ago. See you on FaceBook!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We are now on Facebook!

I started a Facebook page on Hartwood called "Fans of Hartwood Acres". Please check it out and sign up for this fun page. We have around 30 friends that have joined the page but let's get some more!

Please feel free to join and post pictures of this beautiful park - spread the word and get your friends to join!

Passing of Senator Flinn info.

Article on the dedication of the William Flinn Highway (Route 8). The last time I was in Pittsburgh I noted that there are still some highway signs spelling "Flinn" as "Flynn". Wake up PennDot and replace the misspelled signs!

Hand written letter from Senator Flinn on Hotel Soreno stationary dated February 16, 1924, three days prior to his passing.

Postcard of the Hotel Soreno in St. Petersburg, Fla. This is where Senator Flinn passed away on Sunday, February 19, 1924 after a short battle with a bronchial infection. He had gone to this Hotel to plan his 50th wedding anniversary party with his wife Nancy Flinn. Senator Flinn sent this postcard 1 week prior to his passing. The hotel was vacant for several years in the 1980's and was eventually torn down in the early 1990's.

This is a scan of a newspaper article detailing the filing of Senator Flinn's will. Senator Flinn had assets at the time of his death of app. $10,500,000.00. Mary Flinn Lawrence used her portion of this inheritence to build Hartwood Acres.

This is a scan of a letterhead from Booth & Flinn Construction listing the 3 Flinn brothers as office holders in the company.

Hello friends,

I wanted to share some articles of Senator Flinn's passing that were given to me by a friend of our family. The articles were pasted into a leather binder and the binder was kept by A. Rex Flinn, one of Mary Lawrence's brothers. The newspaper articles about Senator Flinn's passing and letters from mourners are all in excellent condition from 1924 and I want to include some of them here for everyone to see. I have scanned and archived the entire binder (over 180 sheets) and have been using the scans as research for my book. Enjoy - Jeff L.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Funny story about Mary Flinn Lawrence

Cemetery tour recalls local women's movement

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette

Jennie Benford, an archivist at Carnegie Mellon University, leads a tour through the Homewood Cemetery grave sites of women prominent in social justice battles.
Afternoon sun dappled a rainbow of fall foliage and crows cawed frequently while 18 women strolled through Homewood Cemetery Sunday to learn about local suffragettes.
The women joined the special tour of the 200-acre cemetery hosted by Nancy Bernstein and Steffi Domike of Squirrel Hill, Emily Lippert of Wilkinsburg and Judy Ruszkowski of Highland Park. The tour was auctioned off earlier this year at a benefit for the In Sisterhood project, an effort by historian Patricia Ulbrich to document the local women's movement in the latter half of the 20th century.
First stop was the grave of Rebecca Conner Marchand, a woman who advocated for temperance during the 1840s. She's buried in Section 7, the cemetery's oldest neighborhood.
Jennie Benford, a Carnegie Mellon University archivist who led the tour, said many women joined the temperance movement because they did not work outside the home, putting them at the mercy of husbands, fathers and brothers who spent most of their paychecks on liquor.
Many women who supported temperance also backed women's suffrage because "they realized they would not get anything done without the right to vote," Ms. Benford added.
Three decades later, in the 1870s, Pittsburghers read the sentiments of Elizabeth Wade, who wrote under the pen name of Bessie Bramble. In a wide-ranging newspaper column, she advocated the reform of property, divorce and child labor laws and never shied away from politics.
During the second wave of the local suffrage movement, Eliza Kennedy Smith helped start the Allegheny County Equal Franchise Federation. Her father, Julian Kennedy, a successful engineer, initially served as the group's president.
"This gave them credibility and access to Duquesne Club wallets," Ms. Benford said.
Ms. Smith was one of several suffragists who traveled all over the state of Pennsylvania with a replica of the Liberty Bell. The bell's clapper was tied down and the message was that freedom would not truly ring until women had the right to vote.
Ms. Smith's grandson, Templeton Smith Jr., practices law with the Downtown firm of Thomson, Rhodes & Cowie.
"She was a unique individual. She always made her views known without raising her voice. She never had to. She was very logical and didn't mince words," Mr. Smith said.
Eliza Kennedy Smith's granddaughter, Eliza Smith Brown, is a historian who lives in Squirrel Hill and is writing a book about her famous relative called "She Devils at the Door."
One of Mrs. Brown's favorite stories about her grandmother involves baseball. Pittsburgh, Mrs. Brown said, had a special affinity for the World Series because it was born out of an agreement between the Pirates' Barney Dreyfuss and Boston's Henry Killilea, who decided in 1903 to stage a best-of-nine-games playoff for the world championship.
In 1915, twice-daily newspaper reports were not enough to satisfy the public's demand for coverage. While the morning Post and the evening Sun posted scores every few minutes in their office windows, that caused congestion. So Pittsburgh City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting window posters.
Local suffragettes saw their opportunity for a captive audience and appealed to Herbert Dupuy, a Downtown arcade owner who backed their cause. Local newspapers agreed to call the scores in to the suffragettes.
"The fans would come into this arcade 2,000 at a time. The suffragettes were in this arcade from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and had as many as 10,000 people a day," Mrs. Brown said.
In between the newspaper reports about the World Series, suffragettes jumped on their soap box.
"They held court in this empty arcade and they would get up and say, 'So and so just hit a home run, and by the way, women ought to be given the vote,' " Mrs. Brown said.
When women finally got the vote in 1919, Pittsburgh Mayor Edward Vose Babcock encouraged the "blowing of whistles and ringing of bells."
"I wonder if he was running for mayor," mused Pamela Murray of Squirrel Hill, one of the women who took the tour.
Over at the Flinn family mausoleum is Mary Flinn Lawrence, who grew up at Hartwood Acres, a mansion that's now part of a county park. Ms. Lawrence was the daughter of Pittsburgh political boss William Flinn. In 1915, Ms. Lawrence marched in a suffrage parade in Pittsburgh with her fiance, John Lawrence. The banner was so heavy that she struggled under its weight, and he offered to carry it.

The banner read, "If men can vote, why can't I?" But Mr. Lawrence didn't read it until the parade ended. That's when he understood why so many people along the route were laughing at him.

Nobody laughed at Perle Mesta, the famed Washington hostess who was widowed at age 36 when her husband died in 1925, leaving her a fortune of $78 million. Today, that estate would be worth $900 million. Mrs. Mesta belonged to the National Woman's Party and supported the Equal Rights Amendment.
"She was a king maker and an early supporter of Harry Truman, who made her ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949," Ms. Benford said.
Across the road from the Mesta family mausoleum is Daisy Lampkin, who was known as "Mrs. N.A.A.C.P." An ardent suffragette and civil rights activist, Mrs. Lampkin was a phenomenal organizer and fundraiser. Famed for her hats, she was known as "Aunt Daisy."
To learn more about local history in Homewood Cemetery, check out an hour-long walking tour, "Taking It With You," from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday. It focuses on Section 14, where members of prominent Pittsburgh families, such as the Heinzes, Fricks, Mellons and Benedums, are buried. Cost is $5. To register, call 412-421-1822.
Marylynne Pitz can be reached at or 412-263-1648.

Pic of the Lawrence's at Hartwood

Here's a picture of the Lawrence family taken in the Great Hall of Hartwood back in June of 2008. This picture was taken by one of the Docents there and given to me during my last visit to Hartwood.

From left to right:

Hannah Lawrence (my daughter)
Kim Lawrence (my wife)
Jeff Lawrence (me)
John W. Lawrence Jr. (My dad)
Suzanne Franklin (my mom)
Lee Lawrence (my brother)
Jason "Bink" Lawrence (my nephew)
Lori Lawrence (my sister in law)

There you have it, the entire cast of characters. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New pictures of Hartwood being built!

Hello Hartwood fans,

I was loaned some pictures of Hartwood being built which I scanned in and attached below. I was also loaned scrapbooks from 1924-1927 documenting the passing of William Flinn of which I am busy perusing and studying for research for my book.

I added some comments to the pictures below, enjoy!

This is a view of the mansion looking at the garage - these are now mens and ladies restrooms at the mansion.

This is a view of the mansion as you would pull up the drive at the front (rear) of the home. Note on the extreme right of the photo the cottage (where the tours start) and the main portion of the mansion are not connected.

This is a view of the rear (front) of the mansion. Here again the cottage is not attached to the main part of the mansion. Note the large awning, this room is where the tours start.

View of the rear (front) of the mansion. Another perfect picture showing that the cottage and mansion are not connected. Note the scaffolding on the cottage.

View of the area of where the gardens are now. The driveway up to the front (rear) of the mansion is shown on the left.

Pretty cool stuff eh? I will be posting some other little tidbits in the upcoming weeks.
Take care until then,
Jeff L.

Monday, August 31, 2009

More of Josh's Hartwood pics!

These pictures are so beautiful that I just had to post some more.

Thanks Josh!

Until next time,
Jeff L.

New Hartwood pics posted

Hello everyone,
Our good friend Josh Wisniewski sent us these pictures of Hartwood. Josh took these pictures in August. Thanks for the pictures Josh, they are beautiful.

I will be posting some more pics of Hartwood shortly.
Until next time,
Jeff L.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More Hartwood Pics Found!

Not a very good photo of Mary near the mansion.

Mary at the front (rear) door again.

Mary at the front (actually rear) door of Hartwood - notice the dogs, the temporary door and scaffolding!

Here is a photo of Mary's husband John W. Lawrence with one of the dogs in front of the mansion under construction.

Hello Friends,

Dad was cleaning out his garage last week when he found some more Hartwood pictures taken when Hartwood was being built. They show some neat shots of Mary Flinn Lawrence and John Lawrence in front of the mansion when it was being built! I scanned these photos in tonight; they are the same size as the previous photos that I posted - about the size of a baseball card and are in really great condition since they were taken and developed around 1925-1927.

I have other pictures to post as soon as I get around to them - enjoy!

Jeff Lawrence

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hartwood home movies update!

Hello all!

I just wanted to give you an update on the Hartwood movies. Dad and I stopped at the film company in Coraopolis last Thursday and showed our movies to the owner of the company. We were thrilled to find out that they are in excellent condition for being so old. We left 2 film rolls with him – 1 titled “John and Mary Wedding” and another titled “The Lawrence Boys”.

They transferred the 2 rolls of films onto a DV tape as well as DVD for us. I received everything back this past Saturday (48 hours turnaround) and Dad and I reviewed the DVD tonight that they sent.

The Wedding video is outstanding; it shows the cars pulling up to the church with Mary getting out of the one car as well as all of the other cars with the bridesmaids. There is also footage of the bridal party dancing as well as the sit down dinner – complete with footage of John and Mary at the head table with the fountain flowing that now sits in the hall at Hartwood. There is also great footage of the Flinn brothers as well as Mary’s mother Nancy Galbraith. This video is black and white and in great shape for being almost 100 years old.

The 2nd video shows Dad and Bill on Christmas morning opening presents in front of the Christmas tree in the great room – this video shows Dad is around 8 years old, Bill around 5, and this entire video is in color. There is also footage of horse shows at Hartwood, Mary riding sidesaddle, and even footage of John Heinz and Dad playing around when they were both around 8 years old. There is also footage of Brownie and Dad and Bill on horseback. The reel ends with a winter scene of Dad and Bill sled riding at the front of the house that slopes down to the woods. The footage quality is outstanding.

There are almost 18 more rolls of film to go; it cost us about $50.00/roll to get them transferred. Each roll we have is 7” in dia. and is 16mm. Our goal is to have a professionally produced video that will show the pictoral history of Hartwood.

Until next time,

Jeff L.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mary Flinn Lawrence jumping sidesaddle!

Just wanted to add this photo in as well. This undated photo shows Mary Flinn Lawrence jumping sidesaddle over a split rail fence. The photo measures app. 8x10. See my prior post tonight about other photos that were recently found.

Have fun!
Jeff L.

Hartwood Pictures Found!

Hello everyone,

I visited with Dad this weekend and we went through some old photos that he had and I thought that I would post them due to their interesting content. The first photo below - and we are unsure of who took them - shows the stables probably sometime in the 1950's. They look pretty much back then as they look today.

The photo shown below is of the Hartwood stable master and master of the hunt. His name was Merle Brown - to us he was known as Brownie and he took care of the stables, the horses and all of the riding equipment concerning the foxhunt. Brownie and his wife Alice Brown lived in the house adjacent to the stables. When Mary Lawrence sold Hartwood to Allegheny County in 1974 it was stipulated in the sales contract that the Browns would live rent free in their house until their passing which is what happened.
This photo below is of John Lawrence and Mary Flinn Lawrence posing at what is though to be believed at the site where Hartwood was being built. The photo # on the back is #B29, and when compared to the 2 photos below - which will knock your socks off! - the other 2 photos are dated in the same sequence, which leads us to believe that they were all taken from 1925-1927 when Hartwood was built.

This photo below my friends is one of only 2 photos taken of the Hartwood mansion under construction! It shows the front (actually rear) carriage entrance with scaffolding on the roof and debris piles in the front. This photo # is #B05

This photo below shows the rear patio area (outside of the great room) under construction as well! There are debris piles and scaffolding in this photo as well. Most likely the roof was just being installed. This photo # is B29 as well. If you look closely you can see a worker right behind the debris pile.

This leads me to believe that there are many more pictures from this photo lot to be found! Each of the above 3 pictures measures app. 2.5" x 3.5" and are black and white. I am going to dig into our family archive to find as many of these little pictures as I can. This is a real find because no one had found pictures of the Hartwood mansion under construction until now!
Stay tuned as I will post more pictures as they become available!
Jeff L.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Orienteering at Hartwood 4.18.09

by the Western Pennsylvania Orienteering Club

Where: Hartwood Acres, Allison Park, PA
When: Saturday, April 18, 2009; sign-in 11 AM – 2 PM

What is Orienteering? Orienteering is a competitive form of land navigation. It is for all ages and degrees of fitness and skill, and all-weather. It provides the suspense and excitement of a treasure hunt. The object of orienteering is to locate control points by using a map and compass to navigate through the woods.

What to bring? All you will need to bring is a compass (if you do not have one, we can loan you one), and appropriate footwear to walk in the woods.

Event Details: The courses offered at Hartwood Acres will include Cross Country courses for beginner and advanced beginner, intermediate and experienced orienteers. Cross country courses involve finding a series of control flags in a pre-specified sequence. Come early if you plan to do more than one course.

Sign In 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
· Must Finish the course by 3:30 pm

Instruction for novices: Available on site

Cost: $4.00 per map (family or group can share one map if they wish)

Event Location: Hartwood Acres, Allison Park. On Middle Road, near Central Elementary School. Look for red-and-white arrow signs.

Questions: Contact Jim Wolfe at

Check our website, for complete details and driving directions for this event and the entire WPOC schedule of events.