Our History

Sunset Hill From the Beginning.

The Duncan Family

The property was owned by Major Thomas Williams, who sold it to Peter S. Duncan, as noted in the March 4 1901 “Hollidaysburg Happenings” in the Altoona Tribune. Mr. Duncan began building in 1901. The home was constructed in the Queen Anne style.

Upon completion, the home was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Duncan and their family of four girls and two boys. The Duncan family lived here, on “Sunset Hill” as inscribed on the main fireplace, until just before World War II.

The Women’s Army Corp

During World War II, the home was leased by Peter Duncan Jr. to the US Army. 200 members of the Women’s Army Corp were stationed here, attending communications school at Highland Hall. Neighbors remember the women marching in formation up and down the hill on Spruce Street going to and from classes in their uniforms.

The Next Chapter Ministry to the Elderly.

Bishop Richard Guilfoyle,
Diocese of Altoona

Following the war, Peter Duncan Jr. sold the property to Bishop Richard Guilfoyle of the Diocese of Altoona, who desired to establish a home for the elderly. The property consisted of two buildings: the mansion and a smaller carriage house. (As seen in the picture at left)

Renovations began in November 1946 to both buildings. The Home was named for its benefactor, a local resident named Leonard Miller.

Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth

The diocese invited the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who were ministering at Mercy Hospital, Altoona, and in several parishes in Central Pennsylvania, to take over the ministry of St. Leonard’s Home. Eight Sisters arrived on December 10, 1947.

Less than a month later, on January 5 1948, Elmer E. Johnson came as the first “guest,” followed by Joseph Brady on January 8 and Mrs. O’Conner on January 11.

On January 11, the first Mass was celebrated in the chapel by Father Louis Hileman, OFM, and Franciscan Fathers continue to minister at Saint Leonard’s Home to the present.

Moving Forward To the Present.

Projects and Improvements

  • 1962:  a turkey dinner fundraiser was held at St. Rose of Lima Church hall to help pay for the installation of an elevator in the main building, and a hallway linking the mansion with the carriage house.
  • 1985:  the social hall was built as both a link between the original buildings and as a gathering space for the community of St. Leonard’s Home.
  • 1990:  a new elevator was built to accommodate the changing needs of the residents.

St. Leonard’s Home Today

Over the years, the various administrators have made substantial investments in the upkeep of this historic building and property as they were able. Today, our ministry to those who can no longer safely live at home continues to serve an important function in society.

In 2006, St. Leonard’s Home extended its ministry to the elderly by providing management services to Marian House Manor. Marian House is a 22 apartment, HUD senior high-rise, located in the former convent of St. Mary’s Parish in Altoona. St. Leonard’s Home continues to provide services to the present.

Would you like to know more?

Visit our about us page for more information about Saint Leonard’s Home in Hollidaysburg, PA.

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