Doug moved here from New York City in order to restore this property, built at the turn of the 20th century when oil was first discovered at Drake's Well in Western Pennsylvania. Once housing coal and oil-smeared workers, this former Tidewater Oil Company pumping station now hosts brides in spotless wedding gowns, enjoying both the beauty of the Pump House and the richness of its history.
We’ve come a long way from the days of pumping fossil fuel through the earth, towards creating a carbon neutral facility. With an eye on the future, solar panels were installed in the summer of 2016. They supply energy for the entire property, so every light and every outlet are powered by the sun. We switched to using electric cars for getting around and buying groceries, a golf cart for getting around the property and a fleet of electric yard maintenance equipment, again, all solar-powered. In addition, we are avid recyclers and use a single stream system for most recyclable waste that gets created here. We compost and send table scraps to a nearby farm and also have a local source for recycling styrofoam packaging. Our gardens are ever-expanding to provide fresh produce, herbs and fruit for our guests. Honeybees have been added to pollinate our orchard and add a touch of sweetness to your tea with their fresh honey. The omelets we serve for breakfast are made with eggs we collect fresh daily from our chickens. The list of sustainable practices we employ is ever-growing as we discover new ways to put the environment first. We sincerely hope that we can inspire you to bring this same attitude to your wedding planning and maybe even home with you when the party is over.
Here are just a few suggestions:
Food and Catering — Select a caterer who uses locally sourced food, or has a farm-to-table system.
When choosing a menu, limit the number of meat-based dishes that will be served. Consider which fruits and vegetables are in season and locally available.
Instead of using disposable or “compostable” plates, opt for real, reusable china silverware, and glasses. You can even rent vintage for unique and attractive place settings (try Forget-Me-Not). Another option is to create personalized glasses or mason jars that guests can use for their drinks and then take home as party favors.
For drinks, it is better to rent kegs of beer or soda instead of buying them in bottles and cans. (Local to us, the Catawissa Bottling Co. offers affordable rates for kegs.) Go for boxed wine instead of bottles, as less material gets used per glass and any leftover wine will keep for much longer.
Flowers and decorations — Much like caterers, consider using a florist who sources their plants locally and sustainably.
Choose flowers that are in-season and local. Let the spirit of the Pennsylvania woods and the season of your ceremony date shine in your decorations.
Instead of the green oasis (aka wet floral foam) often used in arrangements, which is not biodegradable, consider choosing vases and arrangements that don’t need it.
Take the DIY approach and use flowers and foliage you pick yourself. In the spring, the Pump House is filled with wild flowers including forsythia and lilacs.
For other types of decorations, chose items that can be reused or recycled. Avoid buying new things or one-time-use objects, especially things made from plastic. Instead, consider a creative reuse of something that already exists, or a vintage rental service.
Cloth aisle-runners usually end up in the trash, try laying flower petals, find second-hand rugs, or just let the beauty of the forest floor speak for itself.
Consider edible decorations such as bright, colorful candies, or dark, elegant nuts. The problem of disposal is eliminated when they have been gobbled up by the end of the night.
Cleanup! — Please be mindful of disposing of refuse properly. We organize it into three simple categories: Recyclables, Compost and Landfill.
All paper, cardboard, rigid plastics and glass must be recycled. Look for our blue containers around the venue. For your convenience, we have single-stream recycling here.
We compost all organic material, including food scraps (including meat and dairy) which goes into our green containers. These go to a neighboring farm to feed some lucky pigs. Non-edible organic waste, such as flowers, should be set aside for us to compost here in our woods. Please do not throw away trays or platters of unwanted leftover food. We’ll eat it or find someone who will (even if it ends up being the pigs).
Anything else can be thrown away into our red landfill containers. If you are unsure about whether or not something should be recycled or composted, find a staff member and they will be happy to clear things up.
We ask that you encourage your guests to pay attention to this system as well. It makes a huge difference when everyone is on board.
Odds and Ends
For your wedding rings, consider that diamond mining takes an ecological and humanitarian toll. Opt for vintage or antique rings, or rings made from reclaimed stones. Wooden rings are also an option; some couples even decide to get ring tattoos
Ask your guests to carpool to our venue. A great idea is to share the guest list with your guests so they can try to make arrangements to carpool with each other. Our guests will also often hire a shuttlebus to bring people to and from hotels.
Remember, you don’t have to invite everyone! Reducing your guest list puts fewer cars on the road and reduces the amount of resources that get used for your wedding. From our experience, we find that smaller weddings are often more intimate, special, and fun, so maybe that distant cousin you haven’t seen in years doesn’t have to make the guest list. At the end of the day, it’s your party, and you aren’t obligated to invite anyone except those who are near and dear to you.
A Little More on our History
The history of the Pump House began in 1878, when three ambitious men hatched a plan for the world's first long-distance underground oil pipeline which would transport oil from well to refinery more quickly and efficiently than the horse-drawn wagons of the time. Pumping stations were needed every fifty miles along this long route to keep pressure on the pipeline so that the oil could reach its destination. Pump House Bed and Breakfast is one of the only properties in the country in which the both the original homes of the foremen and the large brick buildings remain. Doug has spent more than 20 years lovingly and painstakingly restoring these foreman houses as well as the large industrial brick buildings. The Brick Barn Hall once housed steam pumps to pressurize the pipe and keep the oil moving, and the Catawissa Cabin behind it served as the telegraph office. The Celebration Space contained boilers that produced the steam to power the pumps, while the adjoining Studio Cabin functioned as a blacksmith's workspace. Today, the buildings function as reception spaces for weddings and other special events, and house private suites as well as an art studio where Doug pursues his work and teaches drawing, ceramics, and stained glass classes. The Season House, one of the two foreman homes, features additional guest accommodations while Doug resides in the other foreman house. Visit and experience a piece of PA history! The 2004 This Old House feature on Doug's renovations to the main house can be viewed below.