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  SAINT MARY’S MANOR

                                         Submitted and published in the Langhorne Ledger  by Sally Valone of the Historic Langhorne Association

    In 1886 a group of business men formed the Langhorne Improvement Company and purchased valuable property, some of which included the grounds ofsamal1s.jpg (31850 bytes) Langhorne Park and in 1889 erected a summer hotel named Langhorne Manor Hotel at a cost of ninety thousand dollars.  One of the finest in eastern Pennsylvania, it was surrounded by an open lawn sloping to the railroad tracks, a background of towering oaks and overlooking a lake which is fed by a spring, it was designed to have everything first class.  The hotel flourished for several years.  In 1894 due to more attractive resorts in the region, the hotel failed as a financial venture.  In July, 1895 it was sold to the “Foulke-Long Institute for Orphan Girls”, where it flourished for 22 years.  By 1911 it was noted that the running expenses were too great and moved the institute back to Philadelphia.

    The Marist Fathers purchased the property of St. Mary’s Manor in 1912 feeling it would be an ideal location for a Catholic college or seminary.  It wassamal2s.jpg (40850 bytes) decided that since from 1684 the place was knows as the “Manor” the institution should be continued under the name but should be placed under the patronage of Mary, the Mother of God.  Thus Saint Mary’s Manor became the accepted designation.  To better use the large buildings of St. Mary’s Manor, preparations were made in 1920 to transfer the Marist Seminary in Philadelphia to St. Mary’s Manor as an Apostolic School which continued into the 1950’s.

    A former student of St. Mary’s Manor, Jack Mannion from Florida, who attended from Sept. 1949 through June,  1952 furnished Historic Langhorne Assn. with the following description of life on campus.  With his permission we will share some of these remembrances in this article.

     The cedar shake exterior gives it a warm rustic look.  The setting was a long winding road, around a lake with swans and ducks, leading to the main buildingssamal3s.jpg (37250 bytes) on top of a steep hill.  The building complex was surrounded by acres of green fields, apple orchards and farmland.  The three main buildings were connected by a huge wrap-around porch, maybe 30 ft. wide, and lined with rocking chairs overlooking the lake.

    A stately, rambling 3 story building housed the priests and the chapel.  The upper two floors were living quarters for the faculty of approximately a dozen priests.  The first floor was a reception area with a marble floor leading to the chapel.  In an adjoining building was the refectory, or dining hall.  The upper floors were the living quarters for 15 French Canadian nuns who spoke little English.  They did all the cooking and laundry for the priests and students.  Rarely did you see them outside the kitchen and never outdoors.

  The next building housed the student dormitories, a small dispensary and the study hall which  was on the first floor. Each dorm had fifteen beds, and onesamal4s.jpg (29936 bytes) wooden locker for each student.  A bed in the corner of each dorm was reserved for the proctor, who made sure things didn’t get out of order.  There was one communal lavatory.  The last building in the row was the gymnasium with classrooms on the upper floors.  This building was added later and didn’t have the same charm as the original structures.

  Behind the main buildings was a large, red barn surrounded by chicken coops and pig pens.  There were two resident farmers, Bill and Gary, who worked the fields of potatoes, corn, beans and other vegetables.  The produce and the livestock eventually ended up on the menu at the refectory.  Cows supplied fresh milk to the kitchens and the nuns would make delicious pies and applesauce from the harvest of apples from the orchard.  Terry, an Irish Setter was the official mascot of the Manor.  The bottom floor of the main building, the original basement, had a radio and ping pong table for recreation, several storage areas and livingsamal5s.jpg (31134 bytes) quarters for the two resident farmers which was filled by the lingering aromas of smoke from their pipes.

    A typical weekday included rising at 5:30 a.m., Mass followed by an hour study hall, then breakfast.  After breakfast you made your bed and dusted around your area.  Morning classes lasted until lunch.  After lunch it was back to classes until 3 P.M., then mandatory intramural sports followed by the ‘bun line’ – a large basket of freshly made hot cross buns baked by the nuns were passed out – two to each one in line.  Then came the rush for the showers, and then back to study hall for an hour before dinner.  There was a break after dinner and then yet another study hall before evening prayers.  Thensamal6s.jpg (39240 bytes) it was lights out by 9:30 P.M.

    Saturday and Wednesday afternoon were ‘walking days’ which meant you were free to leave the grounds for a few hours.  In groups of four you may attend a local football game; but the most popular was a trip to Greenwood Dairy on Route 1 where their specialty was a huge sundae served in a facsimile of a wooden trough.  Upon successful consumption you were awarded a colorful button stating, “I was a PIG at Greenwood Dairy”.

    By the late 1970’s Philadelphia College of Bible relocated to the site of St. Mary’s Manor.  Last year PCB achieved university status and is celebrating it’ssamal7s.jpg (33245 bytes) 90th year.  Over 1800 students attend the university, and it is most fitting that the Biblical Learning Center, a 48,000 square-foot facility that provides 19 spacious new classrooms, will be dedicated during their 90th year.  A special thanks to Lynda Hayes, Director of Public Relations at Philadelphia Biblical University for providing HLA with a short history of Saint Mary’s Manor written by Rev. Louis Geary, S.M. and Rev. N. A. Weber, S.M. in a historical study of 1950 and for providing the writer a tour of the campus.


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