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Boal Mansion

Harris Twp, Centre County, PA

Boal Mansion

Photo: Boal Mansion, circa 1789, 1798, and 1898-1905, located at U.S. Route 322 and Pennsylvania Route 45, Boalsburg, PA. The home was restored in 1952. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Photographed by User:Ruhrfisch (own work), 2013, [cc-4.0] via Wikimedia Commons, accessed December, 2022.

The Boal Mansion [†] owes its appearance and character to three separate stages of building activity that took place in the years 1789, 1798, and 1898-1905.

The first building on the site was a simple 1-1/2 story stone house with a one story shed roof on its western face. This structure is now the kitchen and kitchen hall of the Mansion. A large cooking type fireplace is located on the southern wall of the kitchen. It has a hearth lined with cut stone blocks and lacks a mantle or mantle shelf. Instead, a board with a molded edge lies flat against the wall above the hearth. All carpentry and hardware in this early section is simple and rustic, reflecting its original character as a frontier dwelling. It has been painted the same blue-gray color as the later parts of the Mansion.

In 1798, the second David Boal made a great enlargement to the homestead. A two story stone house was built abutting the north facade of the original house. The new house was a 30 by 55 feet Georgian dwelling with side-hall plan. The facade of this three bay house faced in a northerly direction with its ridgepole parallel to the road as was the English custom.

In 1898-1905 the house received major additions and re-styling by Theodore Davis Boal. The additions, characterized by >Beaux Arts tendencies in terms of Classicism and grand scale, included extending the 1798 three-bay facade to the west by two full bays; this exterior east wall of the dining room. At a later point in time this portico was enclosed, increasing the size of the room, with the piers then being expressed as pilasters on the exterior. This treatment was repeated in the east facade of a new servants' wing constructed at this time against the south way of the 1789 cabin.

Along with this definite stylistic transformation on the east front, the north facade was also altered. Boal chose not to detract from the integrity of the original three bay facade in adding the two new bays. His solution was to create an in antis portico with three matching two story columns that supported an entablature.

After these additions and alterations were carried out, the house took on a rambling villa appearance and could be truly classified as a mansion in the continental sense of the term. The building was effectively reorientated toward the east where it was complimented by a formal garden that featured dual pathways to the two new pedimented and columned rear additions, interspersed of course with the humble kitchen house. Thus the eastern facing elevation was an attempt to create symmetry and picturesque balance in an essentially a symmetrical building situation. This treatment can be described as beaux arts classicism, and is no doubt a reflection of the author's training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris during the 1890's.

At some later date in the 20th century, Col. Boal further enlarged the mansion by the addition of a farmers quarters attached to the south wall of the 1898 extension mentioned above. This building was designed to match the end wall of the 1798 portion of the house so as to retain the symmetrical format of the east elevation.

† Greg Ramsey & Bill McLaughlin, Centre County Library, Boal Mansion, nomination document, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Route 322 • Route 45