Historical Markers
Charles M. Schwab Historical Marker
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Charles M. Schwab

Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies


Marker Location:
SR 1001 at Loretto

Dedication Date:
August 1, 1947

Behind the Marker

Portrait of Charles Schwab
Charles M. Schwab, circa 1910.
"Mother, mother, I've found a place in the hills where I'm going to build you a home someday when I'm rich." Raised in a family of decidedly modest wealth, Charles M. Schwab grew up to be a man who worked hard, played hard, and spent a whopping fortune.

In 1898 when he was president of the Carnegie Steel Company, he made good his childhood pledge and built a substantial house for his mother in markerLoretto's hills. Then, between 1914 and 1919, Schwab relocated his mother's house, bought up 1,000 acres in the area, and built a lavish estate that today forms the grounds of St. Francis College.

In the 1830s, Charles Schwab's grandfather, an immigrant German Catholic weaver, had settled in this "isolated and inaccessible village" in the Allegheny Mountains. Loretto was famous among Catholics for having the only priest between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis, Missouri.
Image of Captain William Jones.
Captain William Jones

In 1857, Grandfather Schwab moved to nearby Williamsburg, where Charles was born in 1862. At age twelve Charles and his family moved back to Loretto, then a village of 300 inhabitants, where he attended a Catholic grade school, took singing lessons with a former pupil of Franz Liszt, and attended high school classes at St. Francis College. A friend of the family got him a job at a dry-goods store that happened to be near the entrance to markerAndrew Carnegie's famed Edgar Thomson steelworks.

Captain marker William R. Jones, the legendary general superintendent of the works, bought his cigars there. Schwab entered the steel mills after a scant six weeks of clerking, bookkeeping, and sweeping. Impressed by the young man's hustle, Captain Jones suggested a job in the steel mill. Asked for qualifications, Schwab, the story goes, pulled out his diplomas in engineering and surveying from St. Francis College, awarded for each completed course. Jones took him on, and his career in steel began.

Schwab rose quickly through the ranks at the Braddock and Homestead mills. "Schwab is a genius in the management of men," stated Andrew Carnegie, "I never saw a man who could grasp a new idea so quickly." His talents at managing men were certainly needed in the wake of the bitter markerHomestead strike where he was brought in as superintendent three months after the strike. His success there prompted Andrew Carnegie to name him as marker president of Carnegie Steel in 1897.
World War One poster that poses the question, "Are you working with Schwab." An image of Schwab at the steel plant sits above the caption which reads, Charles M. Schwab, Director of the emergency Fleet Corporation says, "I want everyone in the yards to understand that when we succeed in building these ships, the credit will belong to the men who actually built them. I want all of the men in the shipyards to feel that they are working with me, not for me."
This 1917 World War One poster by C. Haimovitz poses the question, "Are you...

In 1901, at age thirty-nine, he became founding president of U.S. Steel and, not coincidently, began work on "Riverside," a French-inspired mansion of ninety bedrooms that covered an entire New York city block. Three years later, after he left U.S. Steel, Schwab bought a controlling share in markerBethlehem Steel and built that company into the nation's second-largest steel producer.

Loretto pleasantly diverted Schwab, once again, during the hectic wartime years. Officially heading the Emergency Fleet Corporation, where he spent endless hours cajoling the nation's shipyards to boost their wartime output, Schwab also commenced work on "Immergrun." At the center of this lavish estate stood a forty-four-room mansion built on the site of his mother's 1898 house, which was moved nearby.

At Immergrun, Schwab lived an opulent life befitting one of Pennsylvania's great steel barons. When he tired of the gardens or golf course he could stroll through an entire French village recreated from one he had seen in Normandy, set on sixty-six acres.

Commanding extraordinary wealth, Schwab also spent lavishly on parties, personal pleasures, and high stakes gambling, and went through much of his fortune even before the stock market crash of 1929.
Mansion and gardens
"Immergrun," the country home of Charles Schwab.
Wasting what remained of his wealth on a lifestyle he could not longer afford, Schwab lost it all, and lived his last years in a small apartment, deep in debt.

Three years after Schwab's death in 1939 St. Francis College bought the mansion and guesthouse. Today, you can visit the nine-hole golf course designed by famed architect Donald Ross. Franciscan novices sleep in the master bedrooms. Mailings to the faithful go out from the building that once housed Schwab's stock ticker and private telegraph. And if you walk through the gardens you will see that statues of saints have replaced the Greek goddesses.
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