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House and garden tour organizers hope to help fund

June 13, 2004|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

MERCERSBURG, PA.

Lovers of architecture and horticulture walked around downtown Mercersburg on a sunny Saturday admiring several homes and gardens, and helping their local library at the same time.

The Spring House and Garden Tour benefited the Fendrick Library Building Fund. According to Jay L. Quinn, board member of the library who is responsible for the building fund drive, the goal is $750,000 to build an addition to the back of the stone library. About $240,000 has been raised in the past 14 months.

"Since the founding of the library, it has been the main focus of (the Women's Club's) philanthropy," Quinn said. "Until recently, proceeds went to the general fund; now they go to building drive fund."

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Quinn said the board hopes to break ground in about two years. Fendrick Library is an independent library, receiving no state or county funds.

The Women's Club of Mercersburg has run house tours for many years; Saturday's was the first to include gardens.

Next door to the library is the Harriet Lane House, built in 1828 by a relative of Harriet Lane, who served as hostess at the White House during the presidency of her uncle, James Buchanan.

Owned by Frank Hayman, the house now showcases a mix of traditional furnishings and modern art. Hayman purchased the Federal-style house in the 1980s and has done extensive renovation work, he said.

Four courses of brick run inside some of the interior walls to the third-floor ballroom, Hayman said.

"The floor up there 'floats,'" he said, "so when people are dancing it doesn't shake the rest of the house."

Huge French doors look out on the bricked courtyard and pool. The house boasts 10 hand-carved fireplaces, each with a different mantle.

Ronald and Susan Simar used Hayman's idea of a bold, red dining room in their 1794 townhouse, also on the tour. They renovated the home in 1996.

Their galley kitchen opens out into the long, narrow garden with brick and stone walkways.

In the large garden behind the home of Richard and Louise Heisey, statuary and seating combine with potted flowers and brick walkways to form a restful, deeply shaded retreat. Designed by the owners in the late 1960s, the garden includes chimes, a wrought iron archway and a fish pond. When their dogs wore paths through the garden, they bricked the paths. A recently installed path utilizes bricks salvaged from the historic Irwin House, which burned several months ago.

Kenneth and Jane Tyson designed their garden with both fanciful touches and inspiration from Colonial Williamsburg, Jane Tyson said. A stone frog, cat and morel mushroom, and an area set aside labeled "play in the dirt," complete with trowel and toy truck, add whimsy. Towering 100-year-old boxwoods lend privacy. Circular and square patches of lawn are separated by a brick rectangle, similar to a garden in Williamsburg.

To prepare for the tour, "we did a whole summer's gardening in one month," she added. The garden is at its most magnificent in May, she said, when the azaleas, daffodils, penny plants, lilacs, dogwood and beauty bush are in bloom.

A decorative painter, Jane Tyson works in a second-floor, glassed-in studio overlooking the garden.

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