John Keats once said, “The poetry of the Earth is never dead.”
But in today’s pressure-driven and wired society, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty that surrounds us. To claim that we are a population that is constantly “on,” is hardly an exaggeration when the smart phone has morphed into an appendage.
Perhaps that is why the public has followed the Allenberry story so closely. After 70 years of serving the community as a bucolic, serene retreat, the landmark’s future became uncertain when the Heinze family decided that it was time to sell.
Few could blame them for craving a bit of relaxation, but John Heinze, who is now in his 80s, felt the need to explain anyway, jokingly calling himself and his siblings “a little too long in the tooth” to continue operating the facility. Suddenly, families around the region were reminiscing about bygone days as they awaited the fate of the beloved landmark.
Lucy Gnazzo grew up in Boiling Springs and worked at the property while in high school. She returned for proms, bridal showers, family dinners and plays.
“They supported the students by providing them with jobs, and I even recall visiting as a very young child during the holidays for a reading of ‘The Night before Christmas,’” she said.
Gnazzo, like many, has a soft spot in her heart for Allenberry. It is a love that spans generations.
“Allenberry was one of my Aunt Doris’ favorite places, and she’d take the nieces, nephews and grandchildren,” she said.
When Gnazzo was seeking a picturesque area for her daughter Lauren’s senior photos, Allenberry, with the Yellow Breeches as a backdrop, seemed a no-brainer.
“So many memories and milestones,” she said with a sigh.
The property lingered on the market for a few years. Right before the historic resort was slated for public auction, Michael Kennedy and a group of investors sprang into action to save it.
Since then, Kennedy and his team have been hard at work updating the property to bring it into the 21st century, while preserving its 1700s-era charm. Renovations to the existing structures should be completed by mid-summer.
News of the new and improved Allenberry came as a relief to Gnazzo and many others who cherish the memories created there.
“It’s fulfilling to see the passion behind the renovations and fabulous to see the investments,” she said. “It’s going to be a tremendous resort for the region.”
Romantic & Rustic
Those, like Gnazzo, with warm memories of Allenberry will be pleased to know that it’s returning much as it was—as a resort with lodging, dining and entertainment—only in fully updated condition.
Staying the Night
For those interested in an overnight stay, the options are many. The 1800s-era, 4,000-square-foot renovated Mansion is especially popular with wedding parties and features four luxury rooms, complete with kitchen, dining room, living room and wraparound porch that overlooks the scenic Yellow Breeches.
Other accommodations include the Meadow Lodge with 32 renovated rooms, the new Pine Lodge with more contemporary furnishings, the Hillside House that offers four suites and the rustic Still House, situated just yards from the creek. There are also cottages of various sizes and the Stone Lodge, which once served as the estate’s barn and stables. On the lower level, guests will discover a renovated carriage house that has been transformed into a cozy restaurant. Dimly lit, with fieldstone walls and heavy barn doors separating the bar and dining room, the Stone Lodge Tavern Carriage Room décor can be described as a union of romantic and rustic.
Chris Douglass visited the resort while in town for the Carlisle Ford Nationals and spent time socializing in the tavern.
“I was looking for unique lodging and found it at Allenberry,” said the Virginia resident. “The staff was very friendly, and I liked the historic and relaxing feel of the place.”
An added plus, said Douglass, was meeting so many welcoming locals willing to strike up a friendly conversation in the tavern.
The Main Lodge
Work continues at the Main Lodge, which dates back to 1778. Upon completion, the lodge will feature a general store, two bars, a bakery, meeting rooms and a flagship eatery called the Barn Restaurant, where Chef d’Cuisine Joseph Randle will serve American fare crafted with locally sourced, farm-to-table ingredients.
Kennedy and company have merged the old with the new in carefully preserving the murals that decorate the walls of the barn. An insider tip: Take a close look at the hunting scene. The original painting depicted two hunters, but today only one remains—the sad reminder of a family feud memorialized with a few extra brushstrokes. During nice weather, guests can stroll past the mural and contemplate their own familial relations with the help of a few libations on the terrace.
Another exciting project nearing completion at Allenberry is the 3,500-square-foot day spa, where guests can undergo pampering, an amenity especially convenient for bridal parties. The resort is partnering with Changes Salon and Day Spa in Mechanicsburg to offer a variety of services to bring out the Zen in just about anyone.
Indoors & Outdoors
Of course, Allenberry wouldn’t be Allenberry without its iconic, 250-seat playhouse, which also has undergone an extensive renovation. Productions will feature local talent led by Dustin LeBlanc, executive artistic director of Keystone Theatrics.
Kevin Gaughen recently had the opportunity to see the renovated resort while attending a murder mystery play with his wife Laryssa.
“Entertainment, food and service were all top notch,” he said, adding that he was impressed with the improvements that have been made throughout the property.
Shows for the rest of 2017 include “Shrek,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
Allenberry also is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and the Appalachian Trail is located just minutes away. For fly fishermen, the Yellow Breeches is a little slice of heaven. To introduce up-and-coming fly fishermen to the sport, Allenberry is partnering with TCO Fly Shop in Boiling Springs to offer classes and lessons.
Kennedy said plans for the future include the construction of a 128-unit residential resort on adjacent land.
An ongoing priority, however, is providing superior service to everyone who visits.
“We sit on arguably the most beautiful parcel in Cumberland County and will be working with our guests and team to continue to develop the Allenberry experience,” he said. “We will always judge our success one guest at a time.”
The Allenberry Resort is located at 1559 Boiling Springs Rd., Boiling Springs. For more information, call 717-258-3211, visit their Facebook page or their website at www.allenberry.com.