History

A bit of

Conveniently located not just along the historic Lake Erie, but also the historic village of North East with its beautiful downtown park that is home to concerts and events year-round and its historic shopping district. Ski slopes and golf courses provide a diverse offering of activities to fill your days, and our location in the heart of Pennsylvania’s wine country means ample access and enjoyment of the many wineries spread throughout the county. But perhaps, best of all, is the lake itself, where you can spend your days on a relaxing beach stroll and taking in some of the best sunset views you’ll ever experience. 

 

Our story begins in 1912 and, as all great tales do, it began with a grand idea. Several tired men purchased a serene plot of land on the old Gay Road that stretched all the way to the New York state line. These men, members of the St. Barnabas brotherhood, a lay order of Episcopal monks, envisioned the land as the ideal resting place and retreat home for other members of the brotherhood.  Supplemented with generous gifts from their friends,  the monks built a lake cottage on the land for the sum of $2,500. During the summer months, these men took turns escaping to the quiet of the cottage, enjoying peaceful retreats into solitude and nature.  

 

 

Not long after the cottage was completed, the brothers broke ground on what became the estate chapel. Working by hand and completing the work themselves, the chapel stood as a welcome, majestic site, a place where their faith joined the pristine natural views to become something sacred and new.  In 1916, soon after completion of the chapel, the brothers welcomed the completion of the larger home that sat between the chapel and the lake itself.  Born of a longing to serve and carry on the mission of St. Barnabas, the home served as a home for healing and care for the sick and ill, taking in its first patients in the winter of 1921.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In need of more space, the home was rebuilt in 1923 to provide care for even more men and boys, and additional space was built and added the following year. For more than 50 years, the home served as the central part of the brotherhoods healing ministry, caring for countless lives through their tireless devotion and medical care. It was during this time that Brother Willard came to the St. Barnabas House to serve as its official manager. Known for his intense faith and compassion, the name Willard became synonymous not only with the house: but with the order of St. Barnabas itself.  It was under his direction that the home enjoyed its most successful use and years.  

 

During Brother Willard’s tenure, in 1931 the chapel was rebuilt and named as The Chapel of Divine 

Compassion. Modeled after the Chapel of St.  John, a historic monastery chapel dating back to 1080 located

in London’s White Tower, The Chapel of Divine Compassion replicated with careful detail the rich Romanesque architecture to preserve the ideals of strength and peace associated with the chapel’s inspiration.  The crowning achievements of the rebuilt chapel were its elegant stained glass, the 1909 creations of the Pittsburg Stained Glass Studio and its large wooden ceiling beams, the beams having come from the home of William Penn himself.  

 

By 1960, the home was converted into an intermediate care facility and in 1977 the St.  Barnabas House closed for good.  During the subsequent years, the land and buildings came under private ownership, and the estate fell into a general state of disrepair.  Fortunately, we had the privilege of purchasing the land and restoring it back to its proper stature and natural beauty.

 

Our historic chapel still serves as a focal point of the estates, serving as a unique setting for beautiful weddings. The main house provides unparalleled views of the lake and the extraordinary Lake Erie sunsets for guests and wedding parties to enjoy. And the old cottage, the beginning of the brothers' grand vision and work all the way back in 1912, still sits against the solemn lakeshore, providing a retreat stay and memories that will last a lifetime. Their vision of healing and restoration is carried on today by all who experience the beauty and history of the estates.  

 

Conveniently located not just along the historic Lake Erie, but also the historic village of North East with its beautiful downtown park that is home to concerts and events year-round and its historic shopping district. 

Ski slopes and golf courses provide a diverse offering of activities to fill your days, and our location in heart of Pennsylvania ’s wine country means ample access and enjoyment of the many wineries spread out over the region.  But perhaps, best of all, is the lake itself, where you can spend your days on relaxing beach strolls and taking in some of the best sunset views you’ll ever experience.  

 

We invite you to become a part of our legacy, to carry on the legacy of those men and their grand idea that was born over a century ago. We invite you to find your elegant relaxation and to create your own moments and memories that will last a lifetime.