Century of Caring

Bethlen's Unique History

Thank you to the Embassy of Hungary in Washington D.C. for their generous support of Bethlen Communities and our Hungarian roots.

At Bethlen Communities, people of all ages have been living, working and caring for one another for almost 100 years. Caring for others is at the heart of Bethlen Communities. Starting as an orphanage at the Park Hotel on the hill overlooking Ligonier in 1921 and adding a home for care of the elderly in 1924, Bethlen has grown to the present continuing care retirement community with several branch campuses throughout Ligonier. Following is a chronologic overview of Bethlen’s story.

Help us reflect on Bethlen’s first century of care as we anxiously step into the next 100 years. We are asking for you to share your favorite Bethlen story, and to donate today to help us make many new memories with our staff and residents for years to come. 

July 4, 1921 Orphanage Open
Bethlen Home Orphanage Opened

To provide for the many children left without means of support following the Smithton, Pennsylvania, Darr Coal Mine explosion, the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America (HRFA) opened an orphanage. Necessary expansion of the orphanage caused the HRFA to purchase the then Park Hotel near Ligonier for use as a home setting for the orphans and their caregivers. The orphanage was then named the Bethlen Home and the mountain where Bethlen is located became known as Moriah Mountain, meaning “Jehovah will see to it”. Over the next 14 years, 185 adjacent acres were also purchased to provide food and revenue for the orphanage.

July 4, 1924 Elderly Care
Bethlen Home for Elderly Opened

To provide housing and care for the elderly who were previously caregivers for the orphans, the Bethlen Home for the elderly was established and dedicated.

November 29, 1928 Church and School
Church in the Wildnerness Added to Campus

A small German church, known as the Church in the Wilderness, was purchased and moved to Moriah Mountain. A school room was added on either side of the church and the structure was dedicated on this 1928 Thanksgiving Day. The church remains in use at Bethlen Communities.

August 31, 1941 Move to Ligonier
Orphanage Relocated to Ligonier

The orphanage was moved to Fairfield Street in the Ligonier Borough with the purchase of the Brownfield House. A dormitory addition was built and dedicated. The orphanage remained open at this location until 1979 when the state began a more active role in taking responsibility for the care of dependent children.

1957-1975 Nursing Home
Nursing Home Opened and Expanded

The first nursing home offering care for 26 residents was constructed to provide a higher level of care for the elderly.  With ever-increasing demand, a new wing housing an additional 80 residents was added to the nursing home in 1962 and still another wing was built in 1975. 

1979-1989 Independent Living
First Bethlen Retirement Cottages Built

Twenty Bethlen Retirement Cottages were built to accommodate independent living in a secure environment for adults age 62 or older. At the time, this form of independent yet protected living was innovative and provided a step toward establishing Bethlen’s continuing care community.

May 31, 2001 Ligonier Gardens
Ligonier Gardens Center Purchased

The Ligonier Gardens Personal Care and Retirement Center on Route 30 was purchased. The facility was modernized with the addition of an assisted-living level of care and based on medical need, fosters the highest level of independence possible for each resident.

June 28, 2005 Bethlen Home
Bethlen Home Center Opened

The newly built Bethlen Home Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was opened as a completely modern nursing facility with multiple levels of care, an Alzheimer’s wing, and comprehensive in-patient rehabilitative services.

December 2007 CARF Accreditation
Bethlen Achieves CARF Accreditation

Bethlen Communities became accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF accreditation is conferred upon organizations that can document comprehensive services and offer a person-centered lifestyle for each resident while maintaining a high standard for quality of care.

February 6, 2007 Home Health
Bethlen Provides Home Health Services

Bethlen added Home Health Services offering seniors in-home skilled nursing, therapy, medication management, wound and IV therapy, and other individualized care.

March 27, 2009 Hospice Care
Bethlen Provides Hospice Care Services

Hospice care was added to Bethlen’s Home Health Program. End of life in-home, resident, and hospital, hospice services aim to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient while affording emotional and spiritual support to the patient’s family.

February 1, 2010 Companion Care
Companion Caregiver Program Initiated

The In-Home Companion Caregiver Program was initiated offering seniors assistance with activities of daily living such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, shopping aid, incontinence care, medication reminders, and companionship. These services allow seniors to “Age in Place” within the comfort of their own home.

November 13, 2012 Additional Housing
Additional Indepdent Living Residences Built

Twenty-four additional independent living residences were dedicated. This more than tripled the size of Bethlen’s retirement community.

May 2014 Wellness Center
Graceful Aging Wellness Center Opened

The Graceful Aging Wellness Center was opened in a newly renovated portion of the old nursing home building. Focusing on the seven dimensions of wellness, the goal of the Graceful Aging Center is to increase active life expectancy, that is, a longer life span free of disability.

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