Ohio man to author book on history of Hartwood Acres
By Deborah Deasy
Published: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, 12:12 p.m.
Jeffrey Lawrence of Austintown, Ohio, knows more about Hartwood Acres than most people.
His late grandparents — John and Mary Flinn Lawrence — built the estate and employed the colorful characters who once lived and worked at Hartwood Acres, now a 600-acre Allegheny County park in Indiana and Hampton townships.
Lawrence, 46, an insurance adjuster, now hopes to write a book about the people whose lives inspired the estate's legacy and imbued its history.
“My goal is to get that completed in the next year or so,” he said. I don't have any writing background, but I've been doing a lot of research.
“I just have boatloads of information.”
Patti Benaglio, office manager at Hartwood Acres, welcomed news of the project.
“We're anxious to work with him and share the knowledge he has, as well as the vast amount of resources we have at the mansion,” she said.
Those resources include, for example, letters once written to Santa Claus by Jeffrey Lawrence's father.
Jeffrey Lawrence, a Grove City, Mercer County, native, is son of the late farmer John W. Lawrence Jr., one of John and Mary Flinn Lawrence's two adopted sons, who died Dec. 21, 2011. Billy Lawrence, the Lawrences' other adopted son, died Feb. 25, 2003.
“My parents divorced when I was 7. My mother remarried, and we moved to Ohio,” said Jeffrey Lawrence, also the son of Suzanne Franklin and brother of Lee Lawrence, 45, both of Boardman, Ohio.
But Jeffrey Lawrence remembers visiting Hartwood Acres as a boy. He remembers seeing his invalid grandmother, Mary Flinn Lawrence, in the room where people now enter Hartwood Mansion for tours.
“She had round-the-clock nurses that took care of her,” he said. “I remember her lying in there when I was a little kid.”
To link people fond of his grandparents' stone mansion and sprawling acreage, Jeffrey Lawrence has started a Fans of Hartwood page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/70498984974.
It's “a gathering place for fans of Hartwood Acres,” according to online site. “A place to post thoughts and pictures of your visit to Hartwood Acres, the jewel of the Allegheny County Parks system located in Pittsburgh, Pa.”
An improved online site for the nonprofit Friends of Hartwood also is in the works, according to Jeffrey Lawrence. That site is www.friendsofhartwood.org.
“I've joined forces with the Friends of Hartwood group,” he said. “We're working to make their website interactive with videos and photos of Hartwood.
The Friends' improved website also will include interviews with people such as the daughter of Earl Brown, the late stable master at Hartwood Acres.
“People are going to give interviews on the way Hartwood was, back in the day,” he said. “That's what Hartwood is all about. The buildings are kind of cool but it's really about the people that lived there, and worked there.
”I get tons of emails from people who worked for my grandmother,” he said. “They'll say, ‘Hey I worked at Hartwood in 1956, in the summer, and your grandma was really nice, and she did this and that.' The county is going to own Hartwood for a long time, and eventually, everyone is going to die off who even remembers that place the way it was,” Lawrence said. “That's why I'm working to compile a written history of Hartwood — the buildings, the people — for future generations to read.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Absenteeism of North Hills School Board member causes concern
- All that Jazz Shaler North Hills Library hosting concert
- Hampton considers adding guidance counselor at high school
- Unused West View land to become green solution for stormwater runoff
- Special-education students enjoy their North Hills buddies
- West View schedules neighborhood cleanup day for April 26
- Hampton woman, Aspinwall man team to help small businesses succeed
- Annual North Hills Interfaith Gathering to celebrate different traditions
- Vincentian Academy looks at expansion plans
- Photo Gallery: Rocket project at North Hills High School
- History of helping has Wolf ready to lead North Hills Community Outreach