Gramercy Mansion is celebrating 120 years of love this year. The mansion was a vision of a man named Alexander Cassatt. Cassatt was not an architect, in fact he was the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad at the time he dreamt of building this beautiful mansion. You see, his beloved daughter Eliza was to be married to Plunkett Stewart soon and he wanted them to have the very best. He bought a piece of Baltimore County in the now historic Greenspring Valley and the building of Gramercy Mansion began.
Alexander Cassatt had many talents besides architecture. He was a successful business man in Pennsylvania, that led him to his Presidency of the railroad. His father saw all of his potential and took him to meet a friend of his, James Buchanan (yes, PRESIDENT Buchanan!). After becoming acquaintances with President Buchanan, he was introduced to the President’s niece Lois Buchanan. Not long after meeting, the two began exchanging letters between Baltimore and Philadelphia. They quickly fell in love, and soon Alexander started talking marriage. Here are some of the letters below:
A. J. CASSATT TO LOIS BUCHANAN Philadelphia, March 23rd, 1868
Nearly three weeks without a letter from you.- You seem determined that I shall have an
opportunity of forgetting you but you can never make me do that so you might as well give up
the attempt.- You cannot know, dear Lody, how hard it is to wait for the mail every evening and
always be disappointed or you would not inflict this on me.- But I must not annoy you with my
complaints only, dearest, do please write to me like the dear good girl that you are.
We have had a great snow storm between Downingtown and Philadelphia, blocking the
road for two days. There was no snow at Altoona and when I left there Saturday night, although
they telegraphed me from below that I would not get through, I could not believe it, bur sure
enough when I awoke, we were at Lancaster with every prospect of staying there all day.- The
reports from Downingtown were that the road could not be opened before evening and the
dispatches from West Philadelphia said that our train would not be moved till everything clear.-
That being the case, I got up and went round to Michael’s to breakfast, took a bath and made
myself comfortable. At dinner time the report was still the same, so I went round to Michael’s to
dinner and behold when I got back to the Depot the train had gone. Although this was rather
provoking, I did not care so much for myself as for a friend of mine who was with me, and who
was hurrying home to see a sick child. The worst of it was that he had gone with me only on my
positive assurance that he would not be left.
I walked out to Wheatland in the afternoon and had a very pleasant visit. Your Uncle
insisted upon my staying to tea, which I did although I was afraid I would miss a chance of
getting away, which indeed proved to be the case.- However, it made no difference as I got off
on the train passing Lancaster at eleven o’clock and reached here at three this morning.- Your
Uncle, Miss Henrietta, Miss Weaver and Miss Parker were all very well.- Your Uncle seemed to
be in particularly good spirits. He talked a great deal and told some very amusing stories of his
traveling adventures before the days of railroads. He has a wonderful memory and talks of things
that occurred fifty years ago,- as if it was yesterday.-
I interrupted Miss Weaver in the middle of her * orthodox which she was enjoying on a
sofa in the parlor when I entered which she bore, I must say, with considerable good nature. She
must have a very good temper for I think if there is occasion upon which one is excusable in
showing a little spleen it is upon being interrupted in the middle of a comfortable snooze.-
Miss Hetty gave a glowing description f the grand style in which you traveled to
Baltimore.- I am writing this in a reading room of the Continental Hotel, and a gentlemen, (a
stranger) sitting near me has just interrupted me to ask whether I often get bothered to know how
to spell a word, and with this introduction asked me whether “immediately” was spelled
ammediately or imediately [sic]. I told him I was not very “fort” in spelling myself but that if I
had my choice I would commence the word with an I for which piece of advice he thanked me.-
* afternoon nap
-192-Today was such a fine day in town that I thought I might meet someone from Oxford on the
street, but did not-
Adieu dear Lody, DO WRITE
With very much love,
Alex J. Cassatt
A. J. CASSATT TO LOIS BUCHANAN ALTOONA, MAY 13TH, 1868
Eleven o’clock at night
I have just received your letter, and according to order, I sit down to answer at once.- I
confess, dear Lody, that I am very much disappointed to hear that the happy day when I am to
see your sweet face again, and place on your finger the token of our engagement, it to be
postponed again, still I am not unreasonable enough to blame you of it, dear Lody, and I am
unselfish enough not to want you to arrive home in the midst of the discomfort and trouble of
housecleaning – only I do hope that the delay will only be for a few days – James is in
Philadelphia you know. he telegraphed me that he had started yesterday evening and he would
go by way of Philadelphia and Erie railroad – so I did not see him. I suppose you will try to get
home while he is there – won’t you? Please write me as soon as you receive this whether you
have heard anything further from home, and whether they have fixed any day for you to return.-
Remember if you stay long after this week, I am to be allowed to come down and spend another
day with you – that was the understanding wasn’t it? We may have another ride in the park after
I do think you delight in teasing me – why won’t you tell me what it is that you want me
to do or do not want me to do – which is it? However, dear Lody, if you will not tell me, you
cannot reasonable expect me to do it.
I have been spending the evening at Mrs. Wilson’s – she is alone as Mr. Wilson is in
Philadelphia.- We spent the evening in having a pretty sharp dispute on politics, brought forth by
the impeachment news.- Mrs. Wilson is a Republican – I am very much elated at the news- and
if the President is acquitted my faith
-223-a democratic from of government will be very much strengthened.-
Yesterday afternoon we had another excursion party to a lake in the hills back of
Hollidaysburg – there were six of us on horseback and five in a carriage.- The whole distance
was eighteen miles. Two of the ladies rode – one of them had not been on a horse for over a year
– can you imagine her feelings today.- She did not make her appearance at supper this evening.
We had a very delightful time – and it will be very mean of you if you say that you do not
believe that I ever thought of you for I did all the time.- One of the ladies lost her net and her
hair came down – but it was not so beautiful nor so plentiful as your dear Lody.
Gard and I distinguished ourselves by jumping over a fence – the carriage had been left at
the bottom of the hill, and those that were in it walked up – but we soon came to a pretty high
fence without gage or bars, and there the walking party began to make fun of us, for having to
get off after all – particularly Mr. Wilson. Gard said if I would risk the pony he would try to
jump it, and wow them he did not have to get off – so I told him to go ahead – and after some
difficulty we got the point to take the leap – she did it very nicely. I was bound to follow of
course and very much to my surprise my horse took it the first time I ran him at it – so the rest of
the riders got off and left their horses but we went on – coming back I nearly got a fall as my
horse struck the top bar – but fortunately he broke it and saved himself.- Mrs. Wilson was very
badly firghtened and angry too, as she said she would have blamed herself if we had been hurt,
for having provoked us into attempting it.- there was no danger however for unless a fence is
very strong it is not apt to throw a horse down but will break itself first. There I’ve given you a
long story about horses.- You must excuse it, for you know horses are my hobby – and when I
get to talking about them I don’t know when to stop.- Gard and I ride out every evening now.-
I was very sorry to hear that Miss Bessie has the measles. I suppose you are glad she did
not catch them from you.-
Do write me as soon as you receive this. You write such interesting letters that you ought
to write often.- Don’t for get to tell me what they say at home about your returning.
Adieu my own dear Lody, Adieu
ALEX J. CASSATT
Do excuse the miserable scrawl – but it is late and I cannot write slowly.
Reading these letters between them two just shows how much Gramercy has such a romantic backstory. The fact that we host over 125 weddings each year here must make Mr Cassatt a very happy man, even from the grave!
The love story didn’t end there. In 1986, Dr Ron Pomykala and his beautiful bride Anne were driving through the Baltimore area and stumbled across Gramercy. They immediately fell in love with the property and the surrounding area. They bought the mansion, and the love story continued.
They raised their beautiful family and soon began to realize that the property could really be something special. As their children grew older and left the house, they began renting some of the bedrooms out as a Bed and Breakfast. Ann would cook breakfast every morning for her guests. The gardens grew bigger and greener and more beautiful than anyone could imagine. People began asking if they could get married on the property and here we are today. Hosting beautiful weddings both big and small.
Every time you walk into the front door at Gramercy, you feel the love and the romance in the air. We are in the presence of love every single day and that is the greatest gift anyone can have. Alexander and Lois, Ron and Anne, and hundreds of couples all have love stories here at Gramercy. Will you be the next?