Part of a local historical landmark has found new life thanks to the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation.
The Cunningham Mansion was built in 1898 for James Hamilton Cunningham, a prominent Beaver attorney and wounded Civil War prisoner of war who saw action at The Wilderness, Todd’s Tavern, Spottsylvania, and Cold Harbor. The 6,400-square-foot Queen Anne mansion was designed by renowned architect Thomas Boyd, whose portfolio included the 1877 Romanesque Beaver County Courthouse and a number of regional public buildings in the “Second Empire” style. After years of vacancy, the mansion fell into disrepair and was ultimately demolished in 2012.
“The Heritage Foundation was invited to remove certain elements from the house for preservation,” said Mark Miner, volunteer and operating committee member of its Beaver Station Cultural & Event Center. “Chuck Copeland, one of our volunteers, admired the home’s steep pointed roof turret, known as a witch’s hat. The demolition contractor graciously took down the structure and transported it to the Station’s campus.”
The turret remained at the grounds for several years while organizers tried to decide how best to use it. In 2015, Bob Smith, a longtime volunteer, suggested turning it into a Belvedere— the conical roof of a pavilion with a beautiful view for use as an outdoor event space at the Station’s grand lawn.
That’s when the community stepped in to help. In order to make the Belvedere useful at night, the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers donated installation labor and materials, and Larson Design Group engineers provided lighting design.
“The colors of the pavilion lighting can change to virtually any color, so the Belvedere can be customized for every event,” said Dan Manns, director of facilities engineering with Larson Design Group.
“The Belvedere has provided a beautiful outdoor space that allows us to expand our offerings to the public for outdoor weddings, artistic performances and more,” said Miner.
The Belvedere is available for event rentals this summer and already is being reserved for weddings in 2018. More: www.beaverstation.org.