Monday, September 6, 2010

Smethport, PA.

c. David Grim (taken 8/6/10)

I really wish that I would have found the time to blog about my trip to Smethport, PA while it was still super-fresh in my mind. There are plenty of details that I am certain will already have been edged out of my conscious memory. It's a shame certainly, but there is nothing to be done but accept the fact and move forward.

GF and I ended up in this little town in central Northern PA mostly by happenstance. I did plenty of research into regional bed and breakfasts over the last year and a half, and so when I realized I could get outside the 'Burgh for a bit, it was simply a matter of revisiting some of the sites for accommodations that looked intriguing. We ended up agreeing on THIS. It had something to do with how the shots representing the place on the web resonated with my personal aesthetic. And it had something else to do with the fact that they had a two-person jacuzzi and were offering two nights at a very reasonable price. When we arrived there after a leisurely summer drive we realized immediately that we had been right to choose Mansion District Inn.

Upon entering the house, it's eminently clear that the proprietors have some serious interests in design and history. There are works of art and fascinating antiques everywhere on the ground floor. The impression of having entered a personal museum is palpable. And the vast amount of visual stimulation on display represents the collective obsessions of Ross and Jovanna Porter, who transformed their residence into a B & B about a year-and-a-half ago.

If the decor is fascinating, it's only a prelude to the magic and mystery encased in the minds of the Porters. Ross is the mayor of Smethport, and he and his wife are both retired public school teachers. In fact, while in Wisconsin three decades ago, Ross put together a grant-funded program introducing green technology and sensibilities to his students. And now he's trying to get a bio-mass plant started to power his town. That is, whenever he is not doing one of his many alternate activities- like designing a board game, restoring sculptures, or adding to (what I believe is probably) the largest municipal historical website in existence.

All of this and the grandeur of the "Pennsylvania Wilds" adds value to what can easily be a weekend trip away from our fair city. And that's not to mention the sight of crazy devastation that the ruins of the nearby Kinzua Bridge presents, or the stories to be unearthed at the McKean County Historical Society and Old Jail Museum. Sometimes the most worthwhile destinations are in locations that you would never even think to visit.

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