Charles Schwab Estate

LORETTO, CAMBRIA COUNTY --- The sprawling Schwab estate covers nearly 1000 acres in the heart of Loreto.  In the early 1900’s, the steel industry made Charles Schwab was one of the wealthiest men in the country, but he never forgot his roots.

"This was a favorite spot of his because he grew up in Loretto, he was a graduate of St. Francis College at the time, back in 1880," Fr. Christian Oravec said.

Schwab dubbed his summer estate "Immergrun" - German for evergreen.  The original 44 room mansion was built on the site of his mother's house.  He outgrew the first mansion and built the one that now stands atop the cascades.  The first house was saved and moved to another section of the property.  Many of the Greek statues throughout the gardens are the originals hand picked by Schwab.  Three years after his death in 1939, the property was put on the auction block.  The lone bid came from a group of business leaders named the friends of Francis.  

“They bid on the property and they purchased it and then gave the property to our Franciscan community," Oravec said.

It's now part of the St. Francis friary grounds.  50 Franciscans live in the various buildings. 

"Some of them are administrators and faculty at St. Francis University, some are in the early stages of their education as Franciscans, some help out in parishes and convents in the area, and we have a number of retired and semi-retired," Oravec said.

In the last few years the Franciscans have added on to the mansion.  It now includes a large commons room and a chapel.  The stained glass windows honor the six friars who founded the university.  The mansion and associated buildings are closed to the public.  But the gardens at the base of the estate are open year round.

“It's a very favorite spot for tourists of the local as well as from other areas," Oravec said.

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