In spite of a snowstorm, a group of undaunted neighbors chose to take part in the Haverford Township Historical Society’s tour of local residences. For the first time ever, Saint Raphaela Center was on this year’s list of six homes to visit. On December 8, 2013, the Handmaids were ready to show the first floor conference room, enclosed sun porch, St. Raphaela Heritage Room, the dining room, Saint Raphaela Mary Chapel, the heart of the center, and second floor bedrooms.
The history of the property dates back to 1903, when the thirty room mansion was built for the William Scull family, distributors of Boscul coffee in the 20s through the 50s. At that time it also featured a 1930s state of the art system where the owners could communicate with employees by phone.
In 1957, the Handmaids purchased the property using it first as a home for its novitiate and later to offer retreats and days of prayer there. The property was named Blessed Raphaela Mary Retreat Center at the time, since the Handmaid foundress for whom it had been named, had not yet been canonized. The name was later changed and today the structure exists as St. Raphaela Center. In addition to its purpose as a retreat center, the location has become the United States Provincial residence and home to the Juniorate formees.
In conducting the tours, the Handmaids offered visits to the first floor conference room, enclosed sun porch, the Saint Raphaela Heritage Room, the dining room, the second floor bedrooms, and the heart of the Center, the Saint Raphaela Mary Chapel. The tour included an explanation of the original use of the rooms and their current purpose, ending with a video presentation of the retreats and programs available year round. Guests were amazed at the size and beauty of the Center’s interior and throughout the eight acre meadow and woodland, seen from all windows.