About the Winslow House

Reuben C. Winslow, settled in Punxsutawney about 1856. In 1858 he entered the practice of  law and later that same year married Martha Drum. He ventured into real estate, railroads, and land speculation. In 1864, the Winslows purchased approximately 12 acres of land to the north of Punxsutawney.

About 1866, the Winslows were able to purchase four adjacent acres of land on what was then the northern boundary of Punxsutawney on Torrance (now Pine) Street. This became the site for their new country estate, built in the popular Italianate architectural style they had seen in the eastern part of the State while Reuben served in the Pennsylvania State Senate.

Construction began in 1868 and was completed in 1874. This was Punxsutawney’s first true mansion. At the time, some people in the town were still living in log cabins. The estate included a small carriage house, a detached kitchen and well house, and a privy, along with the original “summer cottage” located on the hill overlooking the new “town house.”

The mansion featured a tall tower, large windows, imported glass windows and marble fireplace mantles, and elaborate wood and plaster work. Massive front and side porches and twelve-foot-tall first floor ceilings with ornate plaster medallions at the gas light fixtures welcomed the elite of Punxsutawney society who were fortunate enough to be invited to the magnificent home for parties, political events, and soirees.  

About 1886 the house underwent a modernization, including upgrading wallpaper, adding quarter-sawn white oak paneling in the dining room, replacing a second-floor fireplace mantel with red “Chinese” egg and dart tile, and the addition of what is believed to be the first picture window in Punxsutawney. The kitchen was brought into the house at this time. Running water was installed in the house along with the first bathroom.  

The Winslow’s had both passed away by 1914 and the house passed through a series of owners. In 1917 a photograph was taken on the porch of the house showing the young men of Punxsutawney on their way to board the train to take them to “the (First World) War.” Local tradition says that President Woodrow Wilson held a campaign stop at the house while running for his second term.

In 1924 the property was sold to the Knights of Columbus, which used the house as a meeting hall and a boarding house for young men. The Knights installed the library bookshelves and the parquet floors, added additional bathrooms, and otherwise modernized the house.

Unable to keep up with the mortgage payments during the Great Depression, the house reverted to the bank and in 1944 was purchased by Eugene Winslow, the oldest grandson of Reuben and Martha, who had built the existing Banker Tudor house next door. It was Eugene who cut the house into three apartments.

A 1915 postcard shows the mansion with Eugene’s house to the left and his uncle Willie’s house to the right, all in a park-like setting around the mansion in the center. The two side houses had access to a curving concrete sidewalk that paralleled the governors’ driveway in front of the main house.  

After Eugene’s death in 1962, the house passed to his daughter, Anna Hughes, who added a fourth apartment and owned the property until her death. Following Anna’s death, the property passed briefly into the hands of Jack Dereume and Jeff Lundy, who sold the property to the current owners, Tim and Laurie Spence, in December 2001,

The Spences immediately began extensive repairs, including replacing the roof, installing a new heating system, repairing the collapsing chimneys, and otherwise stabilizing the building. In 2006 the Spences moved into the house and began to restore the building back into a single-family home. Kitchens were torn out, bathrooms were relocated, and woodwork was repaired, notably the main staircase. Ornamental plaster ceiling work, badly damaged by neglect and water due to roof leaks, was slowly restored.

They welcomed their first guests for Groundhog Day 2007 and took the name “Winslow House Bed and Breakfast” in 2008. Operating on a limited basis as rooms were completed and needs arose, the Spences continued to work until they both retired in mid-2021. They opened Winslow House Bed and Breakfast full time on January 30, 2022.  

Final work on the property continues in a few areas, notably the landscaping, the side porch, and the plaster work in the stairway and first-floor hall. Once completed, plans are for the formal garden with its gazebo and brick-paved walking paths to be available for parties and other functions.

The Winslow House offers five guest rooms, all with private bath, decorated in Victorian elegance with a nod to how the house might have looked around the time of the 1886 renovation. Golden Oak furniture and other 19th and early 20th century antiques, including many family pieces and period photographs, are found throughout the house. Breakfast is served under a crystal chandelier on one of several sets of antique China with antique silver as guests are invited to enjoy the opulence and glory of a former time at Punxsutawney’s first mansion:  Winslow House Bed and Breakfast.