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Beegle Estate--Mansion to Monastery to Manor

By Angela Modany
Based on the research of
Ron Ciani

Milestones Vol 34 No. 1

Names can be deceiving. One would never think that the Franciscan Manor, located in Patterson Township, used to be Our Lady of Peace Croatian Franciscan Monastery. Furthermore, one would not think a Croatian monastery used to be the mansion home of Frederick N. Beegle, a prominent businessman in Beaver County in the late 1800's.

Frederick N. Beegle was born in 1863 in Millersburg, Ohio. Both his parents died when he was young and left him very little. He started his business career as a store clerk in Beaver Falls and then soon started his own wholesale process business. He sold this business after two years and joined Hartman Steel Company of Beaver Falls, leaving there after only four years. Beegle eventually joined Union Drawn Steel Company, where he was elected president in a few short years. Beegle was involved with many other companies, the Beaver Clay Manufacturing Company of New Galilee and First National Bank of Beaver Falls to just name a few. He was also engaged in mining, having promoted the Alamo Mining Company in Mexico.

Beegle went beyond the business world and kept himself busy in charities and other philanthropic work. He was the chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Beaver County Children's Home and was president of the Home for the Aged of Beaver County.

Beegle married Nellie Emily Heath, a reverend's daughter from Oberlin, Ohio, on Christmas Day in 1890. It was after her that Beegle named their home, Heath Manor, built in 1905 on Darlington Road in Patterson Township. In 1919, Country and Homes magazine called the manor "one of the most beautiful in Western Pennsylvania for location and scenery." It had seventeen rooms, ten of them being bedrooms, each with its own fireplace. A ballroom was located on the third floor and the grand dining room was made of African/Mexican mahogany. The outside of the house was a replica of an old English Manor house with several chimneys and a pointed roof. During Beegle's lifetime, Heath Manor's grounds included Brady's Run Park and the Beaver Valley Gun Club.

After Beegle died in 1923, he left Heath Manor to his wife, Nellie. She sold the estate to her son, Clifford H. Beegle, on December 24th, 1935 for $1.00. At that time, the estate totaled 22 acres. The General Anthony Wayne Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution was founded in Heath Manor in 1939, and Clifford Beegle was made the organization's first president. When Clifford died on La Gorge Island in Florida in 1958, he left the manor to his wife, Frances Ague Beegle. In turn, she sold Heath Manor to Heath Manor Inc. for $85,000.00. Heath Manor Inc. sold the estate to the Croatian Franciscan Brothers for $100,000 in 1965. The priests made changes to the estate, such as an addition with guest rooms and a chapel. However, after 31 years the priests decided to sell the manor because it was too much for them to handle, along with the declining number of priests. The monastery was sold in 1996 to Scott Gordon, who renovated the old mansion-turned-monastery into Franciscan Manor, the assisted living home that it is today.

The Beegles lived in a magnificent home and its no surprise that their resting place is just as magnificent. As soon as one enters the Beaver Cemetery, right next to the mausoleum, is the large, white stone Beegle mausoleum. Frederick N. Beegle's name is etched above the entrance and one can see all the names of the Beegle family inside. The mausoleum has three windows, all stained glass. To the stranger, they appear to be of the family's life at Heath Manor, captured forever in a pane of glass.

Saxman, W. The Book of Prominent Pennsylvanians; A Standard Reference. Pittsburgh: Leader Publisher, 1913.

Articles from the Beegle file by Ron Ciani, found at the Vicary House