by Gary Cooper



The challenge of designing and fabricating a public driveway gate that reflects an equestrian estate overlooking the rolling foothills of the Allegheny Mountains could be a daunting task.  Gary Cooper recently completed a Gate for Hartwood Acres which was the home of John and Mary Lawrence.



Hartwood describes itself as a “symbol of the changing American culture of the past century”. The estate was acquired by Allegheny County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation in 1969 to be enjoyed by the public.   The sixteen foot driveway gate was to span the road which opened up hill. It needed to be locked when the grounds are not open to visitors.  Gary was determined to include some aspect of the Lawrence’s past interests in this gate.  The beautiful grounds, mansion and stables deserved a personal touch.  Gary toured the estate and considered some architectural iron elements for his design.  The Lawrence's were known for their riding skills and hunts. On top of the Seventy-five foot silo is a weather vane depicting a hunt (seen below).  Gary recognized that this silhouette would be the perfect symbol to include in his design.  To capture the exact replica of the weather vane, Gary used a JLG to reach the height of the tower and patiently traced the outline.  This design was hand cut with a torch out of 1/4 inch mild steel  plate. The “H” and “A” were also hand cut. To insure many years of daily use, stainless steel was used in the latch, catch, and hinges.  The hold backs were equipped with an easy hooking mechanism so that the gates would not leave the “open position” during the day.  Safety requirements were implemented into the plan.  Reflective tape was  used on the gates. So that the gates design would not be compromised with unsightly orange warning tape, black reflective tape was used.  This is a great tip if you are making anything that may be a hazard during the night.  The tape is black and blends with black railings but at night, the light from headlights cause a reflection. The completed powder-coated gate swings open easily.  With a little horse sense, Gary was able to track down a solution for a successful addition for the Hartwood estate.




Consider using black reflective tape if you are building something that could be a night-time hazard. The tape also comes in a wide array of colors and also in bronze. Photograph on left is taken without flash, photo on right with flash. This latch assembly was designed to be opened or locked from either side of the gate.  Gary used traditional forging techniques to complete this part of the project.





Top of Page