A memory, a feeling, a view… pondering the love of a place

woman with long dark hair, wearing a pink top, smiles at the viewer
Julia Chain, Preservation Pennsylvania’s former Program Director

Hello fellow old-place-lovers! 

As Valentine’s Day is in the air, we are all obliged to take an extra moment to celebrate what we love and value in our life. You may remember my name from Preservation Pennsylvania, as I worked on staff for about five years. My time with Preservation PA taught me so much, but perhaps most importantly; a deep abiding love for places!!

In this season of love, I wanted to write a love letter about a place that is meaningful to me for a myriad of reasons; the Cameron-Masland Mansion at Kings Gap State Park. This Italianate summer home was originally built in 1908  (photo courtesy of the Friends of Kings Gap), and now serves as a venue and bed and breakfast. Learn more about the Mansion here.


old black and white photo shows a big stone house with a flat roofWhile this building clearly has abundant historic significance, my love for the place is actually centered around a space directly behind the building, a long stone terrace overlooking the South Mountain landscape. I love this spot for a couple of reasons and I think my relationship with the place covers some of the “whys” of place-based memories, and therefore, why it is so important to protect and preserve these places.

white clouds scud across a blue sky, from a stone terrace the land slopes down and grants a majestic view

The View

As you walk to the back of the building, a stone terrace awaits and beckons one to look out upon the Cumberland Valley and South Mountain Landscape. This view has become even more special to me in my current position as Program Manager of the South Mountain Partnership (a regional landscape conservation initiative). This landscape is made up of all the things that make south central Pennsylvania special; historic towns, agricultural lands, forests and streams… all visible from this view.

big ol' pink tongue hangs out of the mouth of a golden retriever who's just been having too much fun!

The Feeling

Being out in this space is incredibly peaceful. In our ever-busy society full of notifications and video calls, enjoy a quiet moment to reflect, listen to nature, and consider what you can hear, smell, and see. This would be the perfect spot for some meditation or journaling!

three gal pals and a canine companion having funThe Memory

Growing up in the Carlisle area, Kings Gap has always been a part of my life, and I attended science camps, field trips and more in this same space.

But the most special memories of this spot come as a meeting point for friends. We have used the hiking trails and terrace as a meet up spot many times over the years. Pictured right, you’ll see me (middle) with dear friends all the way from elementary school Kelsey and Erin (now living all across the country) snapping a photo on a recent holiday trip to Kings Gap!

This place has been more than a meet up though; its been the backdrop for lots of laughs, serious chats, and catching up in a spot as familiar as our lifelong friendship.

I hope my ponderings have sparked a memory or feeling you cherish from a place you love!

If you’d like to check out mine in person, plan a trip to Kings Gap State Park. The park is beautifully maintained by its park staff and Friends Group. The drive up the mountain is iconic, and I recommend taking a hike on one of their many trails before enjoying the view at the Mansion.

Happy Adventuring!

Xoxo Julia