Nestled outside of the city of Philadelphia and surrounded by the breathtaking landmarks in the Bryn Athyn Historic District, is the stately Cairnwood Estate. Behind the high stone walls that seclude this magnificent French chateau from the rest of the world, are vistas of manicured gardens and grounds that transport guests to another time. 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 landmark that is a spectacular setting available for wedding receptions and special occasions during every season.
For over a century, Cairnwood has been hosting receptions within its halls. The tradition began with John and Gertrude Pitcairn opening their home for a nuptial celebration in 1896. Today, the Estate is available for sit-down dinners with 200 guests or an opulent stations-style event for up to 275. The graciousness of the Estate provides a setting that departs from the ordinary with endless indoor and outdoor possibilities. The distinguished architecture, terraces, grand staircase, balconies, and flowering gardens inspire couples to welcome guests into their own spacious mansion for a unique and memorable celebration.
The elegant designs of Carrère & Hastings are grounded in a rational and organized plan. The architects’ meticulous attention to detail is evident in the distinguishing features of the Main House. The first floor has six spacious rooms encompassing 6,000 square feet, offering the perfect setting and ambiance for social gatherings. The heart of the house is the Great Hall with a ceiling soaring two stories high, a massive carved stone fireplace, an elegant staircase, and pilasters with ionic capitals. Three Roman arches frame French doors accessing the flagstone terrace and sprawling lawn. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is reminiscent of the New York Public Library’s famous Astor Hall, which Carrère and Hastings designed in 1897.
The beautifully appointed rooms on the east end of the second floor have been restored with furniture appropriate for the period and are used as the private dressing suites. The window seat is perfect for moments of quiet reflection (or to peek at incoming guests); with a view of the wrought iron balcony, colorful blooms, and the woodland beyond. The Estate’s historian, interior designers, and a consultant from the University of Pennsylvania selected the exceptional furnishings and papers that transport guests back into the Gilded Age.
Although modifications were made to the Estate through the generations, the home has been predominantly restored to its original 1895 appearance. A host of steadfast employees and volunteers continue to work to preserve Cairnwood Estate for the enjoyment of future generations. Guests and visitors are invited to share in the warmth of this beautiful place with friends and family with the hope that they will build new memories in this treasured landmark.