Ten years after I left my hometown behind, I fell back in love with it. Now, I'm bringing a historic residence back to life as a retreat and artist-in-residence program for up-and-coming creatives to rediscover the beauty of the Pocono Mountains and breathe new life into my community.
Welcome to the La Anna Guesthouse. You belong here.
We can't wait to open the doors to the La Anna Guesthouse. All of our restoration and design is grounded in an ethos of preserving the home's long and storied history while integrating contemporary amenities that bring the house seamlessly into the current day. When we're done, the house's four bedrooms, intimate parlors, bright kitchen and nearly four acres of grounds (complete with its own small lake) will be available as a bookable getaway and event space with annual programming for the local community and visitors alike.
Additionally, each fall the La Anna Guesthouse will host an artist residency program for four up-and-coming creatives across media and disciplines. This developing program will accept artists by application, with one position always reserved for an artist from the local community.
A House with History
In the mid-1800s, Nathan Houck and his wife La Anna Dietz set off through the forests in an ox-drawn cart looking for opportunity. They discovered a waterfall, built a saw mill and set to work developing a village in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Nathan named the village for his wife: La Anna. As the village prospered, a young veteran of the Civil War named Emory Gilpin came to woo Nathan and La Anna's daughter, Amanda. In 1877, they built their home — a sturdy family farmhouse with soaring Victorian elements that made the home unique. For the next century, it was handed down through the generations as a family home until the 1970s, when Emory and Amanda's granddaughter opened the doors to the home as the La Anna Guesthouse.
Now, as a close and trusted friend to the original family, I've purchased the homestead to bring the La Anna Guesthouse back to life as a thriving space for creatives.
The Pocono Mountains. Located less than two hours from New York City (give or take traffic out of Manhattan), the Poconos have served as a refuge since the first manors and inns opened their doors to vacationers in the early 1900s. Known for its forests and lakes, it's where I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by small towns and strong communities with generations of history.
However, over the past few decades, an entire generation has lost touch with the Pocono Mountains. It's become that place where your aunt maybe had a lake house — or where you think you went to summer camp once as a kid but aren't sure exactly where. The Poconos have been waiting patiently for rediscovery, and all the mountains have to offer lie only a short drive from the La Anna Guesthouse:
- Hiking paths through forests and streams with waterfalls and suspension bridges
- Nearby farms with fresh local produce, breads and homemade goods
- Lake Wallenpaupack, the source of the area's hydroelectric power and idyllic location for boating, waterskiing and lakeside lounging
- The Columns museum, resting place of the Lincoln flag
- Grey Towers, the birthplace of the American conservation movement and Gifford Pinchot's mansion home
- The nearby towns of Newfoundland, Mountainhome, Greentown, Hawley, Honesdale and Milford
Meet the Team
We've built a team of superstars to help us bring La Anna back to life. I love every minute I get to work with them — and now I'm excited to introduce them to you.
Jeffrey Gerson - Founder
Jeffrey is a Poconos-born community builder and marketer with decade-long track record of designing experiences and strategies that support communities across local and global scales. He lives in San Francisco, where he is also a passionate photographer and has fully succumbed to his caffeine dependency.
Beau Ciolino and Matt Armato, Probably This - Design Leads
Beau and Matt are the team behind Probably This, a New Orleans based design, travel, food, and home life blog. They and their designs have been featured in Country Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Apartment Therapy and Dwell. They spend their free time developing recipes and arguing over paint samples.
KV Harper, KEX Design and Build - Head of Renovation and Build
KV is the principal and founder of Kex Design + Build, a New Orleans and Brooklyn based firm. Her work and the work of her firm has been featured in Architectural Digest, Food 52, New Orleans Magazine, Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy and Brownstoner. KV enjoys practicing photography and traveling.
Ben Wagner - Brand Designer
Ben Wagner is an award-winning designer and art director based in Brooklyn, New York. His studio creates bold and thoughtful work ranging from logo and identity toolkit-building, to full-fledged, scalable campaigns for print, product, out-of-home, digital, and social media. Ben’s clients include Warby Parker, Kate Spade, Meetup, Crate & Barrel, Gap, and Domino, and his work has been featured in Print, Elle Decor,and Vogue.
Fran Tirado - Arts Curator
Fran is co-host of the podcasts Food 4 Thot and Queerly Beloved, Executive Editor of Hello Mr, and co-creator of the queer artist collective and event series Communion. He has been featured in Teen Vogue, Remezcla, DAZED, The New Yorker, Mic, NPR, The Advocate, The Gay Times and been recognized as one of Brooklyn's 30 Under 30 for his work in editing, researching, documenting, convening and creating community for queer people.
Anna Kenoff - Architectural Advisor: Anna Kenoff is an architect specializing in historic restoration and the co-founder of Morpholio, a suite of apps built to enhance creative pursuits and connect the design community. She lives in Bedford, NY, with her husband Jeff in a historic farmhouse they restored together.
Aaron Hicklin - Community Engagement Advisor: Aaron Hicklin has been editor of three titles in the U.S., including Gear (1998-2001), BlackBook (2003-2006), and Out (2006-2018) — and has consulted on numerous other magazines. In 2015 he founded One Grand Books, a celebrity-curated bookstore with branches in New York City, Hollywood and the river town of Narrowsburg, NY, where Aaron has been cultivating an arts revival. Most recently, Aaron founded Narrowsburg's Deep Water Literary Festival as a three-day immersive event that engages passionate readers and writers with the vendors and venues that make up the town.
Lauren DiCioccio - Artist-in-Residence Program Advisor: Lauren DiCioccio is an artist based in San Francisco, who works primarily in the media of textiles, making soft sculpture and embroidered drawings. She has exhibited her work at galleries and museums internationally. Alongside her art practice she co-founded Open Editions, a small business focused on collaborating with artists to design, manufacture and retail locally-manufactured products. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at Vermont Studio Center, the McColl Center for Visual Art, Recology San Francisco, Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus, the Arts/Industry program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and was an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts. She worked as the Resident Manager at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA for six years and currently serves on the Program’s Board of Trustees.
Where the Money Goes
A project like this — especially with a beautiful historical residence — is going to take a lot more than $50k to revive. More realistically, we're looking at a $200k investment to bring La Anna to life in the way we want to. But we aren't daunted by this number. Your support helps us hit the ground running to stay on track with our aggressive timeline to open the doors of the La Anna Guesthouse in the summer of 2019.
- Kitchen Renovation - $45,000
- Downstairs Bathroom Renovation - $16,000
- Upstairs Bathroom Renovation - $22,000
- Porch Restoration - $15,000
- Overall Restoration - $12,000
- Design and Furnishings - $50,000
- Design and Build Fees $30,000
- Buffer - $10,000
We've worked across the team to set an aggressive timeline for our project. So far we've completed the home purchase, built our team and kicked off renovation plans and contractor bids. Now it's time to get down to the fun part.
Seeing is believing when it comes to a few of the rewards we've dreamed up for this Kickstarter.
La Anna Enamel Pin
La Anna on Your Shelves
ONA x La Anna Guesthouse — Bowery Bag
Meet the Community
Risks and challenges
Restoring a historic residence comes with a lot of unknown factors — and as we mentioned above, we're well aware that it will cost more than $50k to bring La Anna back to life. But the funding this Kickstarter brings in will let us hit the ground running and stick to our aggressive timeline to open the doors as soon as possible in the summer of 2019.
We'll be sharing the story as it unfolds, and if we hit significant stumbling blocks or delays, you'll all be first to know. All of our rewards will be delivered regardless of opening date, and we'll let you know when advance booking is open for backers.
The opening of the La Anna Guesthouse isn't a question of if, only of when — and we're committed to getting up and running as fast as we can.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)