Fairy houses coming to Glen Osborne's Mary Roberts Rinehart Nature Park

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Often called the “fairy park” by local children, Mary Roberts Rinehart Nature Park in Glen Osborne soon will be filled with homes made just for fairies.

During the first fairy-house event planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 20, participants are invited to bring their own natural materials to make the miniature houses to leave at the 4-acre park.

Tracy Kane, author of “Fairy Houses” and other fairy books, will help participants build the houses in the park. She also will speak at Osborne Elementary School at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and have a book signing at Penguin Bookshop at 4 p.m. April 19.

Other people in the community are chipping in to help with the event. Sewickley artist George Gaadt and his wife Ann, a graphic artist, created signs for the event and the park with the help of son, Eric.

Elyse Alberts of Bloomfield will wear a fairy costume designed and made by Janet Daugherty, owner of Tapas in Sewickley.

The park's connection with fairies began even before the park was established, said Natasha Green, secretary of the nonprofit Osborne Trail and Park Association, or OTPA, which runs the park. Several years before, Green, whose home adjoins the park, noticed a woman and her two daughters visiting the area quite frequently. The woman told her that her two daughters thought the area was magical and insisted fairies lived there. One of the benches at the park is dedicated to that family.

“And, that's how we developed the sign,” Green said. The sign with the name of the park has a fairy on it.

Around that same time, one of Green's neighbors told her about famous mystery writer and former nurse, Mary Roberts Rinehart, who previously had owned the park area and a home adjoining it named Cassella at the corner of Osborne and Linden streets during the early 1900s.

Rinehart participated in the women's suffrage movement and voiced her political views supporting child-labor laws and equal rights for women. During World War I, she was a war correspondent in Belgium, where she visited and wrote about the battlefields and trenches.

In 2008, the park board decided to name the park after Rinehart. Soon after Green learned about Rinehart, she said she “got it in her head” to do something about the future park area which had become “broken down and trash laden.” In 2006, she and three others met with Quaker Valley School District officials who agreed to sell the area for $1 on the condition that the area be used for educational and recreational purposes. The OTPA was developed with members who include Glen Osborne Mayor Bill Boswell and Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe.

Green said the park came together with volunteer help, labor and donations from local residents, nonprofit organizations, businesses and Quaker Valley School District.

The OTPA received grants from the Child Health Association of Sewickley, the Garden Club of Allegheny County, the Sewickley Civic Garden Council, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and private donors. The last few years, the board also received a donation from the borough.

Sewickley Valley Community Fund recently awarded a $3,000 matching grant to the organization to construct a 200-foot noise and privacy fence along the Route 65 boundary of the park. The fence will cut down on noise from Ohio River Boulevard and enhance the seclusion of the park along that boundary.

Boswell said later this spring a new trail will be installed near the back of the park adjacent to the Osborne Elementary School after construction of the joint Aleppo-Glen Osborne-Sewickley sewer line along the boulevard.

Barb Carrier, board member and event chairwoman said each season the board tries to feature a community event at the park, such as storytelling and painting pumpkins in the fall. She came up with the idea for the fairy event.

Those who would like to help with maintenance in the park or donate a bench, tree, shrub, perennial or over funds for maintenance, can find more information at www.mrrnaturepark.org or by calling 412-749-0128.

Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 303, Sewickley, PA 15143, payable to OTPA.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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