Behind the beauty of the Hill Section, with its high streets and even higher houses, lies more than brick and stone, but centuries of history.

And for Lackawanna County Historical Society, the best way to celebrate that history is with its “Rooted in the Hill” tour, which takes guests to interesting homes in the neighborhood. And now, for the first time, it will send visitors into stunning gardens hidden in the Hill during the tour this Sunday, June 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For over 15 years, the historical society has run the tour every other year, featuring an array of beautiful buildings and different phases of construction, with some ripped down to the studs and others completely refurbished and restored. Despite the tour’s past successes, Michael Gilmartin, president of the historical society, which the event benefits, felt it was “imperative to change things up.”

That’s where the Nay Aug Park-based Greenhouse Project came in, guiding the tour to encompass secret gardens. The gardens have now expanded the tour into a “three-pronged approach,” according to Gilmartin, with six homes and nine gardens included. It’s an opportunity for history buffs, gardeners and those looking for a tip or two on interior design to see the hidden beauty and architecture in the area.

“The tour is really a reflection of the history and stylistic development of the city as well as Scranton’s economic development,” Gilmartin said.

The Greenhouse Project’s Secret Garden Tour takes place throughout the Hill Section in Scranton.

Houses on the tours usually were built between the late 1800s and the 1920s, and they range from substantial homes built by coal and railroad barons with multiple stories and servant quarters to smaller, simpler homes built by those industries’ laborers.

For Gilmartin and others, the best part of the tour is seeing the good craftsmanship and “the woodwork, the mantles, the intricacies” of older homes that serve as a time capsule from a different era.

Tickets for the tour are available at several local businesses. Participants receive a tour guide book and map of the route, and a free shuttle will take them among the stops.

And on Friday, June 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. a cocktail party at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave., will celebrate the tour and the people welcoming guests to their properties.

“We want to be able to show our appreciation for the homeowners,” Gilmartin said. “The homeowners all have a level of pride for their homes and their renovations. And I think that is what makes the tour and the homes so appealing.”

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9127


If you go

  • What: Rooted in the Hill: A Tour of Homes and Secret Gardens in Scranton’s Hill Section
  • When: Sunday, June 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Where: The tour departs from Lackawanna County Historical Society, 232 Monroe Ave., Scranton, and will visit six homes and nine gardens in the city’s Hill Section.
  • Cocktail party: Friday, June 21, 6 to 8 p.m., the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
  • Details: Tour tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the tour. Tickets for the cocktail party cost $45, and combination tickets for both the party and tour cost $60. For tickets, visit Nada & Company, 1440 Capouse Ave.; Mansour’s Market, 969 Prescott Ave.; Duffy Accessories, 218 Linden St.; the Greenhouse Project, 200 Arthur Ave.; or Lackawanna Historical Society, all in Scranton. For more information, contact the historical society at 570-344-3841 or