All of the rooms and cabins have locks and keys, and you’ll probably use yours in the beginning, out of habit. But give it a day. Soon, without thought, doors will be left open, valuables strewn about inside. There is no need for security here. This is a place where minds are truly at ease.
The Lodge at Glendorn, located in Bradford, Pennyslvania, provides a mystical getaway on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest. The property, which spans over 1,500 idyllic acres, features a main lodge (the Big House) as well as a clutter of cabins, with a span of activities on offer and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies daily. It’s something of a fancy sleepaway camp for adults. “Glendorn’s a special place,” says George Johnson, who, well into his seventies, has been employed by the lodge for over five years. “I would work here for nothing.” There is indeed something exceptional about this dwelling, immediately apparent upon driving up to the peaceful lodge, completely surrounded by black cherry and maple trees.
The property was purchased in 1927 by wealthy oil man Clayton Glenville (C. G.) Dorn, who wanted a serene place for his family to vacation. The Dorn history is evident everywhere even today, from the cabins (most named after family members) to the trails, picnic spots, and bodies of water. It would have been a truly fantastic place for the Dorn children to grow up, allowing their imaginations to run wild amongst the acreage; there were so many rabbits on the property in those days that the family lovingly called the estate the Rabbit Patch. The Dorns opened up the property to the public in 1995, and it remained in the family until 2009, when it was purchased by a man named Cliff Forrest. Out of his own love for the place, Forrest preserved the entire property (instead of letting parts of it be sold to timber companies) and invested in maintenance and upgrades. Today Glendorn remains in his care, and in the dutiful hands of those who work there every day, smiling kindly and attending to every need (if a staff member hears you have a cold, she’ll show up to your room with a steaming cup of the lodge’s special drink). And the Dorns do still visit. It must be hard to let go of an abode like this.
In the winter, the Relais & Châteaux property boasts cross-country and downhill skiing, ice fishing, curling, and snowshoeing; in the warmer months, guests can fish, hike miles of trails, hunt, skeet shoot, ride bikes, and attend seafood cookouts by the lake. The Big House’s restaurant, run by executive chef Joe Schafer, is worthy of every meal; before dinner, grab a cocktail in the lounge and mingle with the other guests, and then head to the dining room for a fresh, inventive feast. Whenever they can, the kitchen team forages its own crops, be they wild ramps or berries. “We’ll use as many local ingredients that come from the woods as we can,” says activities director Damon Newpher as he drives around the property, pointing out different tree species and telling stories about the family. Even those who weren’t born a Dorn end up feeling like part of the clan.
There is also a trout hatchery on property, as well as beehives, all part of creating a truly symbiotic and self-sustaining experience which guests can involve themselves in as much as they wish. There are only ever about 40 visitors maximum at Glendorn at any time, and keeping the count low is significant. “We always want to make sure it has that quiet, calm feel,” explains Newpher. And it works. At night, when all that can be seen outside are the outlines of the trees, if you close your eyes and listen closely, you can still hear the children laughing.