Arts and Crafts Architecture

Mid-Atlantic Architecture

Linden Hall: Driving along wooded, one-lane roads in rural Dawson, PA, an hour southeast of Pittsburgh, Linden Hall emerges from rolling hills and trees with breathtaking grace and beauty. The English Tudor manor was commissioned in 1911 by Sarah Cochran, a simple farmer's daughter who married a wealthy Pittsburgh coal baron. Her husband, Philip Cochran, amassed a fortune shipping coal and coke to Carnegie's steelmills in Pittsburgh. Philip died in 1899, and their only son, James, died of pneumonia in 1901, leaving Sarah as the heiress to the Cochran fortune. After traveling throughout Europe and Asia for several years following the deaths of her husband and son, Sarah returned to Dawson and work began on the 35-room mansion, which was dedicated in 1913.

Sarah named the house after the Linden tree, which she discovered while touring Germany, and had planted surrounding the house. The mansion is distinctly English Craftsman Tudor on the exterior, but showcases Sarah's decidedly classical European tastes in the interior. Still, it is quite a magnificent mansion, located in a surprisingly unexpected place among rural farmland. The long, winding road to Linden Hall was narrow, and at some points little more than dirt and gravel. Old barns, rickety houses and the occasional trailer gave no indication as to what lie ahead. It's no wonder my jaw dropped when I rounded a corner and the dense trees disappeared to reveal Linden Hall, high on a hill in front of me. Suddenly, from remote woods, I was driving through a beautifully manicured golf course, passing a pool and restaurant on my way up to Linden Hall, with its commanding view.

Sarah died in 1936, and over the next several decades the manor was occupied by a number of organizations and private owners. The house was in disrepair when it, and the 785 acres it sits on, were purchased by the United Steelworkers of America in 1976. The Union purchased the land with the intention of tearing down the house in order to construct a modern labor education, training and conference center. I never found out why this beautiful house's life was spared, but it is unimaginable as to why anyone would want to tear it down in the first place.

Linden Hall Photos

A few interesting facts:

  • Cost to build Linden Hall in 1911: $2 million
  • Cost United Steelworkers paid for Cochran's 785-acre estate in 1976: $1 million
  • Cost United Steelworkers paid for Linden Hall: $50,000
  • Estimated value of the Tiffany windows: $5 million (removed and sold in 2000)

Linden Hall has been featured on A&E's "America's Castles" series, and is well-worth a visit if you happen to be in Pittsburgh. There is a hotel on the grounds, as well as a restaurant, pool and public golf course. For additional information, visit: Official Linden Hall Web Site

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Photo: Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Farms, 1908, Parsippany, NJ. Source: