named Oak Hill, this was the palatial estate of former weathy coal
baron, J.V. Thompson, one of the leading figures in the great coal
and coke boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thompson
had dealings in coal lands all over Southwestern PA (Friendship
Hill was once his summer home), but financial reverses eventually
forced him into bankruptcy.
In 1933 the Byzantine Catholic Order of Sisters of St. Basil acquired
the property. The Thompson mansion, visible from Route 40, is now
the Sister's retreat center. The annual Labor Day weekend pilgrimage
to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help draws thousands of visitors
and is open to the public.
Tours of the mansion only occur occasionally thoughout the year,
most notably on Labor Day weekend. However the grounds of the former
estate are open to the public and are spectacular.