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North Hills Monthly

Vicary Mansion Showcases History, Architecture

Jul 31, 2018 02:21PM ● By Jennifer Pizzuto

By Jennifer Pizzuto

It’s an architectural gem and it’s sitting right next door. Beaver County’s Vicary Mansion is a portal into the area’s history and provides visitors the opportunity to take a step back in time to behold its anachronistic, Federal architectural style.

“One of the most interesting features of the mansion is that it has holes,” said Brenda Applegate, executive director of the Beaver County Historical Research & Landmarks Foundation. “The holes in the floors and walls allow visitors to view the mansion’s internal structure.”

Indeed, the “holes” are actually glass panes that act as windows into the mansion’s architecture, lending another dimension of perspective to this already fascinating building. The mansion includes a glass floor that permits the viewer an unobstructed glimpse at how the home was built.

“Visitors can even go into the basement,” Applegate said, which is a rarity in historical mansions such as the Vicary. She added that the building has been on the National Registry of Historical Places since 1974, after it was almost demolished to make way for the construction of Rt. 65. The mansion was preserved as the result of a fervent grassroots effort. 

Vicary Mansion was commissioned by Naval officer Captain William Vicary, the mansion’s namesake, in 1826 and was completed in 1829. The mansion’s ownership shifted among Vicary family members for several generations until the late 20th century, when the building was acquired by the Beaver County Historical Research & Landmark Foundation’s board of trustees—and it serves today as the society’s official home. 

“The Vicary is a great resource for Beaver County,” said Applegate. 

Not only is the mansion available for educational tours, but it also provides an assortment of educational programs, such as Windows through History for girls ages 7-14, which focuses on varying time periods throughout the history of western Pennsylvania. The mansion also houses a library with an array of historical references that provide education about the building and the area in general.

“We also offer school programs, which are geared toward each teacher’s specific request,” said Applegate. Teachers can choose the subjects that their students learn—educational emphasis ranges from quilting to churning butter to time period fashion.

In addition to its expansive architecture and educational programs, Vicary’s grounds boast an impressive garden that showcases a variety of plants, flowers and herbs. There is a gift shop on-site that stocks further resources about Beaver County for curious visitors. The mansion is available for public tours Monday through Friday, with a suggested donation of $3 per person and can typically be scheduled within a day of contacting the mansion’s office.

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