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Our History

"Run along a pleasant brook, and climb a steep mountain slope to where the air clears and cools, and where you can look down upon the Delaware you have left behind or across it to the Kittatinnies—Pole Bridge Camp."

Sylvan Ridge Farm has a fascinating history leading up to its transformation into an event venue. After countless hours spent researching local records (including many that had been stored in the old barn for nearly 100 years) we have pieced together a timeline of this special property. We are thrilled it is once again accessible to the community as a place to gather and create rich memories. Please enjoy the stories and pictures below! Clicking a thumbnail will open a full-sized photo and description.

Farm

1700s - 1914

The modern history of what is now Sylvan Ridge Farm traces back to the late 1700s, when records indicate the Quick family first laid claim to the hillside as farmland. Early settlers in the region, the Quicks are the stuff of local (and controversial) legend, primarily due to their violent conflicts with the native Lenape (Delaware) tribe. By the mid-19th century, the hillside was passed to the Palmer family, who became the first to  reside on the property. They built a simple farmhouse, a bank barn, and a small carriage house. It is unclear what crops they planted, but the farm likely struggled due to the famously rocky Pennsylvania soil. Other than the preserved structures, the only indication of the land's former use is its miles-long network of crumbling fieldstone walls still found throughout the forest.

Barn-only (full color)

Barn-only (full color)

Camp

1914-1959

In 1914 Rev. Dr. William E. Palmer, fulfilling the vision of his late son Ray, transformed the farmstead into the Pole Bridge Camp for Boys. Around this time the remarkable 14-foot-wide stone fireplace and full-length porch were added to turn the barn into a multi-purpose lodge for campers. Originally its own entity, Pole Bridge later affiliated with Life Magazine Life Camps (a.k.a. Fresh Air Camps), overseen by Dr. Lloyd B. Sharp, an early pioneer in outdoor education. These camps held summer programs to teach survival skills and outdoor recreation to children and adolescents primarily from the inner city. This period in the property’s history is preserved by displays in our farmhouse and barn, and there is even a small exhibit in the local Columns Museum!

Barn-only (full color)

Barn-only (full color)

Dwelling

1959-2017

After the camp's closure in 1959, the land reverted to a private residence. Bill (son of camp founder William) and Hildegard  "Hillie" Palmer lived there with their son Stephen, who would be the last Palmer owner. They nicknamed it "Hilliehere," Hillie's go-to phrase for answering the telephone! In the 1970s, Stephen sold off much of the farm/camp acreage as a potential housing development that never materialized (it is now private land where Sylvan Ridge Farm's owners reside). After making several improvements to the remaining estate, in 1983 Stephen sold it to Bob Carpenter, a respected New York City set designer and avid gardener. He and his loved ones cherished the farm as a family getaway for decades before selling it to their neighbors, Alec and Linnea Geno, in 2017.

Barn-only (full color)

Barn-only (full color)

Venue

2017 - present 

Linnea grew up on former Palmer land bordering "Hilliehere," and long dreamed of raising a family on the hillside she roamed as a child. When the opportunity arose to purchase the old farm, she and her husband Alec took it, forging a vision for transforming the property into an event venue for the wider community to enjoy. They spent three years renovating it before opening in 2020. Though the living spaces only needed minor renovation, the barn had fallen into severe disrepair and could not be saved. Committed to preserving as much of the character of the original as possible, the Genos rebuilt a traditional mortise-and-tenon timber frame barn around the original stone fireplace using materials from the old barn where possible. 

Barn-only (full color)

Barn-only (full color)

Rev. Dr. William Palmer & Sons

Rev. Dr. William Palmer & Sons

Campers at Morning Exercises

Campers at Morning Exercises

Pole Bridge Camp Literature

Pole Bridge Camp Literature

The Farmhouse/Camp Dining Hall

The Farmhouse/Camp Dining Hall

The Barn/Camp Lodge

The Barn/Camp Lodge

Barn in the 1970s or 80s

Barn in the 1970s or 80s

House in the 1970s or 80s

House in the 1970s or 80s

Bob Carpenter & Janet Connolly

Bob Carpenter & Janet Connolly

Pool in the 90s

Pool in the 90s

Garden in the 90s

Garden in the 90s

Mid-20th C. Interpretive Sign

Mid-20th C. Interpretive Sign

Rare 1851 Tom Quick Biography

Rare 1851 Tom Quick Biography

1872 Map w/ Quick & Palmer Properties

1872 Map w/ Quick & Palmer Properties

1916 Palmer Family Photo

1916 Palmer Family Photo

Farm-Era Stone Wall

Farm-Era Stone Wall

House in 2017

House in 2017

Barn in 2017

Barn in 2017

Linnea & Alec w/ Completed Barn

Linnea & Alec w/ Completed Barn

Barn in 2019

Barn in 2019