Created as an elegant sanctuary and private residence for 19th Century industrialist John Pitcairn and his family, Cairnwood Estate is an architectural masterpiece from the Gilded Age with meticulous decorative elements blending influences from classical Greek and Roman architecture with French Renaissance inspirations. The exterior of Cairnwood shows a mixture of rustic elements and high style. The overall effect is that of a majestic French chateau that is a spectacular setting available for weddings and special occasions.
The Estate was designed by John M. Carrère and Thomas Hastings in 1892 and completed in 1895. The architects received their formal training at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. The partners’ portfolio is impressive and includes: civic buildings and monuments, institutional and academic buildings, private residences for captains of industry, and public works such as memorials, gardens, parks, and bridges. Immersed in the distinct classicism of the school and steeped in European traditions, the young architects were particularly adept to synthesizing American high style, placing every building in harmony with its surroundings.
Cairnwood was one of the firm’s earliest large scale country house commissions, and the only private estate designed by Carrère & Hastings still existing in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Estate consists of a Main House, adjacent courtyard, Garden House, and formal garden. Just a few feet from Huntingdon Pike are the entrance gate and Carriage House. In 1895, a stable, greenhouses, a pergola, three terraced gardens, and access to many acres of farmland surrounded by woodlands completed the idyllic country home.
The mission of Cairnwood Estate, as a National Historic Landmark and independent member of the Academy of the New Church organization, is to restore, preserve, and manage the home of John and Gertrude Pitcairn as an educational, cultural, and hospitality center serving the local and national community.