Reilly's Summer Seat Farm History

Reilly's Summer Seat Farm in Pittsburgh

Reilly's Summer Seat Farm is part of the "Depreciation Lands" which were set aside for George Washington's troops for their service in the Revolutionary War. In 1783, Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in convincing the Commonwealth Assembly to pass a resolution that reserved sections of land north of Pittsburgh for Pennsylvania soldiers. A 334 acre parcel of land was granted to soldier Richard Sommers on July 6, 1786, and it was titled "Summer Seat" on the original land grant deed. (Seat is an old-fashioned term meaning place or location, such as in county seat.)

The O'Neil family came from Ireland and purchased the tract of land in 1819, and they farmed it continuously for four generations. In 1941, Thomas and Dora Reilly purchased the original homestead and 37 adjoining acres from George O'Neil so that they could raise their children in the country.

When Lt. Col. Michael J. Reilly retired from the Marine Corps in 1983, he purchased the land from his father, Thomas. With the help of his wife, Cherie, a former teacher, and their four children, Renee, Mike, Kevin, and Shawn, he turned it into a working farm again with pick-your-own crops of strawberries and pumpkins.

A Penn State graduate in Agricultural and Biological Sciences, Michael loved plants, which prompted him to develop a premier Garden Center, where he specializes in growing new and unusual plants that add color and texture to the landscape. He also grows all the old favorites, from alyssum to zinnias, and offers wonderful accessories that help people create magnificent gardens.

The log cabin which was built on the property in the late 1700's still exists, having been incorporated into the present day farmhouse. The turn-of-the-century barn was built in 1909 to replace an original structure that burned. The current farm encompasses 82 acres of rolling hills, woods, and fields, and provides pleasure to gardeners searching for beautiful plants, families wanting to experience the fun of picking pumpkins and strawberries, and any soul seeking the serenity of the country.

 

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