|by Kathleen A. Heinze|
The existing property, fifty-seven acres known as "Allenberry-on-the-Yellow
Breeches," owned and operated by the Heinze family since 1944 is part
of two tracts of land originally owned by James Crockett and his heirs. Since
that time, five other families have been the principal owners of the property.
This fact is indicated on the outside wall of Fairfield
Hall where the eight
windows are inscribed.
The two tracts which are significant to the Allenberry story were originally known as the Fairfield tract and the Allenberry tract. The first owner was James Crockett, who appears on the Cumberland County tax rolls is 1778. James Crockett built two of the existing limestone buildings. The first, a very small two-story dwelling consisting of a kitchen and two additional rooms situated on the banks of the Yellow Breeches, is now known as the Still House. The second was the large bank barn on the hillside overlooking the creek, which now serves as Fairfield Hall.
In 1798 Margaret Crockett and John Crockett, heirs of James Crockett, sold both the Fairfield and the Allenberry tracts to George Balsuver (Beltzhoover). The Beltzhoovers were known as farmers and stockholders. George Beltzhoover served in the War of 1812. He owned the Fairfield and Allenberry properties for forty-eight years (1798-1846). Between 1812 and 1820, he added two large limestone buildings to the properties. A large farmhouse presently known as the Mansion House, was built on the hillside overlooking the existing small house, the Still House. Another large stone barn was built a little further up the hill to the west. This building has since been converted to the Stone Lodge and Carriage Room. Between 1848 and 1872 the George Beltzhoover properties were subdivided and change hands several times.
DeWitt Clinton Bosler, the second son of James W. Bosler and Helen Herman Beltzhoover, who were first cousins, was born on April 25, 1874. He graduated from Harvard in 1897 and owned the Fairfield and Allenberry properties from 1898 until his death in 1903. Both the Bosler and the Sadler families were prominent in Cumberland County. The marriages of Lewis Sadler to Mary Elizabeth Bosler and of Horace Sadler to Helen Louise Bosler brought about the acquisition of the Fairfield and Allenberry farms by the Sadler brothers.
In 1917 Horace Sadler owned 114 acres of the original Fairfield tract minus the land on the south side of the Yellow Breeches. He owned additional land on the original Allenberry tract. By 1928, Horace had purchased the original Fairfield land across the creek, but he had reduced his holdings considerably divesting himself of most of the farmland. However he was developing his forty-acre estate known as "Allenberry." Horace built a caretaker's house on one acre of land at the top end of the private drive to his estate. This building Is now know and the White House.
In 1929 Horace Sadler began remodeling the original bank barn to be used as an area for entertaining known as Fairfield Hall. It was Dr. Sadler who first used the names of past owners to designate certain rooms at Allenberry. The Crockett, Beltzhoover, Lehman and Bosler Rooms were part of Fairfield Hall. Several walls in these rooms were decorated with murals depicting outdoor scenes of hunting and fishing on the property. In 1934, Paul A. Bloser painted the pictorial map of Cumberland County in the Bosler Room showing the landmarks and historical buildings of the valley. He also included scenes of Harrisburg and Rockville Bridge looking from the Cumberland side of the Susquehanna River. Maynard Williamson was commissioned to paint the blinking owl in the Crockett Room and the duck and drake in the Lehman Room. The Sadler Room was added to Fairfield Hall by the Heinze's in the 1950s. The new Beltzhoover Terrace was opened in the fall of 1992.
Although Horace Sadler and his wife Helen lived in Carlisle and had inherited Thornwald from Lewis and Sylvester, they made considerable use of their summer estate, Allenberry. The permanent caretakers were George and Elsie Ilgenfritz.
John W. Heinze, known as "Uncle John" to his many friends and employees, and his son, Charles Addison Bowser Heinze came to Carlisle from Johnstown in 1934. They opened the Dairy Store at 21 S. Hanover Street in Carlisle in November of the same year. They also owned and operated the Carlisle Inn from 1935 until 1951. Uncle John was a skilled meat handler, and during the war, while meat was rationed, Dr. Horace Sadler became not only a good customer, but also a friend. Between 1942 and 1944, Uncle john and Charles were running a dining facility at Dickinson College for Air Cadets. One of their employees was Elsie Ilgenfritz, the wife of the caretaker of Dr. Sadler's Allenberry estate. One February evening in 1944, Ernie Coder, a close working associate of the Heinze's, drove Mrs. Ilgenfritz home to the Sadler estate near Boiling Springs.
The next day Mr. Coder asked Uncle John and Charles if they had seen this handsome property. Apparently Dr. Sadler wanted to sell 57 acres which included four limestone buildings and the caretaker's house. In march, Charles, together with his brothers-in-law, Charles and Lester Shaffer, drove out to Boiling Springs to look at the property. All three men were greatly impressed. Both Shaffer brothers were of the opinion that if Charles Heinze did not make an offer, they would. Charles Heinze called Dr. Sadler at his Thornwald home and made what he thought to be "a ridiculous offer" for the entire property. Dr. Sadler readily agreed provided Charles pay the real estate broker's fee of 5%. The sale was completed on April 1, 1944.
In June, Charles and his wife, Mary Lucinda, and their three children, John aged 8, Mary Jane aged 5, and Jere aged 3 months, moved from Carlisle to their new home at Allenberry. Mrs. Heinze's parents moved with them. Shortly after acquiring the property Charles was standing on the Mansion House porch overlooking the creek when he coined the name "Allenberry-on-the Yellow Breeches." He felt that such a name would spark a certain curiosity. The famous "Pecketts-on-Sugar Hill" at Franconia, N.H. was his inspiration. Charles saw Allenberry as a secluded hide-away and retreat.
Charles Heinze gave much of the credit for his good fortune in the acquisition of Allenberry to his father who had over the years given such a good service thereby establishing a significant friendship with Dr. Sadler. Several years after the purchase of Allenberry, Uncle John and Aunt Myrtle moved into the caretakers's house now known as the White House.
In 1944, in spite of post-war difficulties, Charles began the remodeling of Dr. Sadler's Fairfield Hall. One of the wall murals between the Crockett Room and the Beltzhoover Room was removed to provide a larger space for dining the present Crockett Room. The Bosler and the Lehman Rooms remained as they were. Kitchens were built downstairs to serve these three dining areas. Later, in 1955, the Sadler Room, gift shop and offices would be added. Prior to the kitchens being completed, food was brought out from the Carlisle Inn and the dishes were washed in the Mansion House cellar. The other limestone barn the present Stone Lodge and Carriage Room was first remodeled in 1946 to house twenty guest rooms on three floors. The outside Dutch barn doors and the original windows were retained on the lower floor which has subsequently been enlarged several times into the present Carriage room area.
Charles Heinze wrote several essays ab out the people and experiences that influenced his life. "Dreams, plans, diplomatic solicitation, heartaches, disappointment, hard work and great joyous satisfaction have all been a part of our development at Allenberry. When I first saw this gem it was too good to keep from the public."
So this was his challenge how to attract the public to a place which, in 1944, was considered fairly remote even to the populous of Carlisle. The closed iron gates which had guarded the Sadler estate had always aroused a certain curiosity, but now there was a need for a dynamic drawing card. This was accomplished with the building of the Playhouse which opened in 1949 under the direction of Richard North Gage, a graduate of the Yale Drama School. Mr. Gage served as the resident managing director until his death in 1972. An initial ten-week season was expanded to thirty-three weeks running from April until November. Over the years the Allenberry property has been further enhanced with the building of another lodge, a swimming pool, four clay tennis courts, the Undershoot, and the Beltzhoover Terrace. Ground was broken in October, 1994 for additional lodging in the Pines, the heavily wooded area behind the playhouse.
This truly beautiful piece of property bordering the trout-filled Yellow Breeches has provided a home and livelihood for six families over the past two hundred years. The Fairfield and Allenberry tracts were developed into prosperous working farms from 1786 until 1929. Thereafter the land now known as Allenberry-on-the Yellow Breeches was developed as a private estate, later becoming the site of a family business dedicated to providing recreation, relaxation and respite to all those who appreciate the rural tranquility of the Cumberland Valley.
|The Evening Sentinel, July 1, 1949|
|Playhouse opening Tomorrow Night|
Pennsylvania will have another Summer theater when the Allenberry playhouse
has is gala premier tomorrow night with the opening of "Life With Father." Located
on the grounds of Allenberry, the well-known resort near Boiling Springs,
the 420 seat, fire-proof theater will present a series of ten plays this
Producer Chas. A. B. Heinze and managing editor Richard North Gage have engaged a professional Equity company of actors from New York and will augment this cast with outstanding members or the Harrisburg Community Theater. Marj Green Brubaker, scenic designer of the Harrisburg Community Theater, will serve as technical director and designer.
|Dedication July 6|
On Wednesday, July 6, the theater will be officially dedicated by the Hon.
Theodore Roosevelt, III, Secretary of Commerce of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"Life With Father" will continue at Allenberry Playhouse until July 9, and "The Man Who Came to Dinner" will open July 11. Tickets may be secured by calling Carlisle 819. Formal dress for the opening on July 2 is optional.
|The Evening Sentinel, July 7, 1949|
|Allenberry Playhouse Dedication is Held|
The old adage that the "show must go on" was enacted at the Allenberry
Playhouse dedication exercises last night when the heavy wind, rain, and
electrical storm tore the roof off the playhouse and left the stage under
Working overtime, stage hands managed to get the stage cleared off just before Theodore Roosevelt, III, Pennsylvania Secretary of Commerce, delivered the dedicatory address to an audience of over 300 persons. The rain storm also left the first six rows of the playhouse in a soaked condition and the audience was compelled to move to the rear of the building to see "Life With Father" which will play through Saturday night.
Ned Shuck, of Clearfield, president of the Pennsylvania Hotels Association, also spoke, along with Charles A. B. Heinze, producer at the Allenberry Playhouse.