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[Photo Story] A Tour Of Boalsburg’s Boal Mansion And Columbus Chapel

Just over 10 minutes from downtown State College sits a small town called Boalsburg — the same village from which Memorial Day originated. Long before Penn State was established in 1855, the Boal family laid its roots in this quaint estate after David Boal escaped from Ireland in 1798.

He and his wife purchased the property in 1809 and built a two-room stone cabin. Over the course of nine generations, the Boal family built a mansion and a chapel, which stand today as two of Pennsylvania’s most historic landmarks.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

For more than 200 years, generations of Boal family lived on what was at one point 10,000 acres of land. Currently, 48 acres remain a museum and historic landmark, while the rest of the land is now the town of Boalsburg.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

The mansion is a gold mine for historic artifacts. The home houses many items that have been sought after by famous museums and art galleries like the Smithsonian.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

One of the most impressive artifacts in the museum is this robe thought to be from the 1820s Quileute tribe. Although the origin of this piece is known, how it was acquired by the Boal family remains a mystery.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

Hundreds of pieces of fine china dinnerware were discovered and on display throughout the room.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

The living room is dedicated to the sixth generation of the Boal family. Mathilde Boal married the Governor of Maryland, Blair Lee III, in the 1970s. Throughout this room are pictures and letters from past US Presidents including John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State
Samuel Brungo | Onward State

George Boal, a member of the family’s third generation, was influential in the founding of a small agricultural institute now known as the Pennsylvania State University. Back then, it was just the Farmers High School.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

Near the mansion is the Columbus Chapel, which still operates today. Its next service will be held on October 14. There’s no charge to get in for a tour, but reservations must be made in advance.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

The chapel’s most notable artifact is this relic believed to be from the cross Jesus Christ was crucified on. The sample has been certified by the Smithsonian and is known as one of the most significant pieces of evidence of Jesus’ cross in the world.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

Currently, the property is in the process of doubling the museum’s size and renovating the grounds and architecture.

Samuel Brungo | Onward State

Interested in checking the estate out yourself? Tours of the home, which is located at 300 Old Boalsburg Rd., are offered Tuesday through Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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About the Author

Samuel Brungo

Samuel is a Junior majoring in Film & Video from State College, Pennsylvania. While he is primarily visual staff, he also writes for Onward State and is a Co-Host of our podcast, Podward State. He enjoys sports, music, and art... also loves dogs. He roots for the Steelers, Penguins, and unfortunately, the Knicks. Beyond Onward State, Samuel is involved with Student Programming Association (SPA).

If you'd like to contact Samuel, you can email him at [email protected] OR connect with him via
Twitter @SBrungoPhoto
Instagram @SamuelBrungoPhotography.


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