Providence Villa History

Built in 1924 by Bell Telephone Company, the 28-room building and caretaker’s cottage, known as Fern Hill, was a place of respite and recuperation for female employees of the company. In 1944, Bell sold the property to Cyrilla J. Mansmann and M. Jean Seibert, who relocated their Maxada School, a private boarding school for boys and girls age 4 to 14, to the stately building. 

The Diocese of Pittsburgh purchased the property in 1964. For the next 15 years, the Ladies of Bethany operated it as The Ark and The Dove, a center for renewal and ecumenism. People came for retreats, discussion groups, ministerial meetings, and inter-church gatherings. 

The Diocese took over operation in 1979 and renamed it the Cardinal Wright Center. It was a place of spiritual renewal for clergy and religious in the diocese and a meeting place for vocation groups and other small groups. In 2000, the property was purchased by the Sisters of Divine Providence, christened Providence Villa, and renovated into a retreat center.

Providence Villa closed its chapter on the property's storied history when it ceased operation on June 30, 2015.