BROOKVILLE — The Pennsylvania Memorial Home received a historical marker on October 11. Established in 1890, the landmark was open to Civil War veterans and their families, widows and orphans.
It was WRC Senior Services’ first community, and the first veterans’ home in Pennsylvania and one of the first nationwide that was so inclusive, serving as a model to others across the country. Local Woman’s Relief Corps member Kate Scott worked with social reformer Annie Wittenmyer to establish this facility and to urge state legislators to provide funding.
The historical marker was installed on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Second Street in Brookville. WRC Senior Services and the Jefferson County Historical Society jointly hosted a Historical Marker Dedication Ceremony and Reception.
At the dedication ceremony, the marker was recognized by Tracy Zents, bBoard president of the Jefferson County Historical Society; Ken Burkett, executive director of the Jefferson County History Center, and member of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s historical marker committee; Carole Briggs, the local historian who submitted the proposal to PHMC, and Cindy Russell, chairwoman of WRC Senior Services Board of Directors.
Briggs, in her remarks during the dedication ceremony, regaled the history of the Pennsylvania Memorial Home and the women who made it possible.
The idea of establishing a home where the old Civil War soldier and his wife could end their days in peace and comfort originated with the Woman’s Relief Corps of the Department of Pennsylvania. At its sixth annual convention, held in Erie, in February, 1889, the enterprise was decided upon, and a committee appointed to confer with a similar committee from the Grand Army of the Republic, in order to finalize plans for the establishment of the home.
The property in Brookville, then known as the “Hotel Longview,” was purchased in 1889, with all its furniture, fixtures and equipments, for $30,000. The purchase included, besides the six acres of ground surrounding the home buildings, about 25 acres of farmland near by, but the latter was resold for $2,000.
“Civil War veteran and newspaperman John McMurray wrote several years before Kate Scott died, ‘No women in Pennsylvania are doing a nobler work than these Corps women.’ Kate M. Scott and Annie Wittenmyer were two of them,” Briggs said. “We are most pleased this afternoon to formally recognize the Pennsylvania Memorial Home with a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker.”
To conclude the ceremony, as the marker was unveiled, Russell said, “It is a proud day for WRC. The marker is a visible and lasting tribute to our history and legacy.”