Grey Towers NHS: The Letter Box

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Grey Towers NHL►

Grey Towers National Historic Site, with its Letter Box is in Milford, Pennsylvania. Gifford Pinchot, first director of the United States Forest Service and governor of Pennsylvania, grew up here. Pinchot’s father James bought the land in 1875 and moved the family there from New York City.

James Pinchot regretted the impact his wallpaper business had on the forests. He suggested to his Yale-bound son Gifford that he become a forester. Gifford did study forestry and made a lifelong career of conservation. He and his friend Theodore Roosevelt convinced Congress to establish the United States Forest Service in 1905.

Pinchot served as the USFS Director until 1910 until he had a falling out with Taft, Roosevelt’s successor. He married Cornelia Bryce in 1914 and they moved in to the Milford estate. He served two terms as Governor of Pennsylvania in the 1920s. His son Gifford Bryce Pinchot donated the Grey Towers estate to the US Forestry Service in 1960 to be used as a center for conservation. President Kennedy established the Pinchot Institute for Conservation at the site in 1963.

The Letter Box►

After Gifford and Cornelia married, Cornelia modernized the mansion to serve their political ambitions. In addition to enlarging the first floor rooms, she had several outbuildings constructed.

While Governor of Pennsylvania, Gifford Pinchot used the Letter Box as an office space. He met with his constituents there. He organized his political campaigns there and his staff worked there. They archived his documents in the Letter Box’s loft.

Today, the Letter Box is an exhibit and public programs space. Visitor films are shown there. The archives, over 36,000 documents, moved to the Library of Congress.

Grey Towers Posts►

Location: 151 Grey Towers Dr Drive, Milford, PA 18337
Designation: National Historic Site
Date Designated/Established: May 23, 1963
Date of my visit: December 11, 2020