Sylvan Heights Mansion

Sylvan Heights Mansion (HM451)

Location: Lemoyne, PA 17043 Dauphin County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 15.994', W 76° 52.763'

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"The Acropolis of Harrisburg" is a way in which to describe this Greek Revival, temple-like edifice that rests on a mound of retaining walls jutting from Allison Hill. Although these walls are relatively recent, built when the structure was converted to the home of Harrisburg's YWCA in 1998, the building has always been a curiosity in architectural style and unusual bluff-edge setting. Its original portion was built by John H. Brant )1810-1882), who came to Harrisburg around 1830. Brant operated a successful wholesale business here welling large quantities of coal, iron, nails and oil to the Pennsylvania Canal and the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was also appointed Postmaster of Harrisburg by U.S. President Pierce in 1853 and, in 1856, erected Brant's City Hall on Market Street for use as a hotel, restaurant, and meeting hall. About the same time, he set about erecting his house on the bluff, which took about ten years to build and during which Brant served in the Civil War on the Union side, attaining the rank of colonel. Due to the length of time that the house was under construction, it acquired the nickname of "Brant"s Folly", as many thought it would never be finished. Brant sold the property in 1871, only several years after it was completed, to the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg which, after naming the property Sylvan Heights, used it for a variety of religious purposes. In 1901, the diocese established an orphanage there and expanded the building, added a gabled roof to enhance its Greek temple-like appearance, and extended its columned portico. The orphanage continued operation until the 1970's after which the building was vacated. The City acquired the site and helped with the Harrisburg YWCA's subsequent restoration of the property, renamed the John Crain Kunkel Center, including the construction of a new residential wing. Always progressive in the embrace of social advances, the Harrisburg YWCA at Sylvan Heights continues to effectively serve the needs of women and children.
Top Photo
1890's view of mansion prior to expansion for orphanage.
Bottom Photo
1881 aerial lithograph showing mansion property at center.
HM NumberHM451
Series This marker is part of the Pennsylvania: The Harrisburg History Project series
Placed ByThe Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 12:11am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 340197 N 4459038
Decimal Degrees40.26656667, -76.87938333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 15.994', W 76° 52.763'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 15' 59.64" N, 76° 52' 45.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 900 State St, Lemoyne PA 17043, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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