Arriving in Central Pennsylvania in the early seventies to attend Dickinson College, we met as students and fell in love. We got married young and bought a 36 acre undeveloped rural woodland and meadow site, in the Shermans Dale area of Perry County, Pennsylvania. Our dream then was to build a homestead and raise a family. Little did we know, this would be the first of many complicated projects in our personal and professional lives. We have enjoyed the challenges, completed our careers, and now, some 40+ years later we are writing a new chapter.
In 1976, with no prior construction experience, we built a modest, cedar shake house, fitted with only an outdoor hand well pump, an outhouse, and a wood-stove. Young and energetic, we had a large vegetable garden, chickens, turkeys, sheep, a goat, and a series of dogs and cats over the years. As our family grew, the house gained modern amenities. We found our callings as an environmental engineer (Bill) and early childhood educator (Jane), and our children grew up enjoying their natural playground.
As our children moved on, we decided to try city living and moved to downtown Harrisburg, PA in 2002. There, we acquired and renovated two abandoned 100 year old brick town-homes and an apartment building close to the state capitol building and the Susquehanna River. During this period, we honed our community organizing, collaboration, design, and construction skills. Simultaneously, we were immersed in careers focused on public health and education, both entailing creation and management of large projects and programs. We kept the “Perry County” property and had a series of tenants, including our son’s rock band!
During these city living years, some of which were split between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, we became more interested in collecting art. We collected what we enjoyed. While exploring the market in Philadelphia we met Bridgette Mayer, a gallerist, who helped us select new works for our collection. Now a consultant to artists as well as public and private collectors, Bridgette is playing a critical role as our art advisor and procurement administrator for this project.
In 2016, we returned to our homestead intent on correcting the mistakes we made as young builders. Our vision of creating The Bower gained focus as we lived amongst the meadows and woods again, saw the seasons change, and families of wildlife cycle through. We were influenced by the vast natural landscapes, sculpture parks, and gardens that we visited as we traveled over the years. We envisioned a natural oasis for our retirement years and started to modify the house and enhance the landscape. In the subsequent two years, we began to design and implement a six acre landscape plan with new garden areas and tree plantings structured to integrate future sculptural works.
This would be our next project and we have now embellished it with our mission to share it with our community. We have relished the opportunity to execute this expansive multi-faceted sculpture park project. And we are driven to further enhance The Bower with programming to share with the community and sustain The Bower: Sculpture Park and Gardens into the future.
In 2018, we began to take the steps to implement our vision for The Bower as a place for others to enjoy the beauty, peace, and inspiration that our sculpture park and landscape project could bring to life. We are excited to complete our plan and bring it to fruition over the next two years. And we look forward to engaging sculptors, advisors, arborists, landscape architects, constructors and others to realize our vision. We invite you to join us.
bower (noun) 1. a pleasant shady place; 2. a retreat or sanctuary