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Beacon Light's Timeline

1886: Rev. Charles C. (John) Husted comes to Bradford from Jamestown to establish a home for children on Barbour Street. These children are either orphaned or living in squalor in the Whitechapel settlement (Bennett and Barbour Streets area) inhabited by lumber workers and the impoverished.First "inmate" is taken into the home for children maintained by charitably-inclined people of Bradford and surrounding areas.

Beacon Light Mission officers are named; F. M. Hotchkiss, vice-president, runs meetings of the Board. Also, the mission is moved to Browntown Road near Custer City when the Barbour Street site becomes too small. April 9: The home is incorporated as the "Beacon Light Mission". August 10: On this day, "Views of the Beacon Light Mission near Custer City: A Charitable Institution Maintained as a Home for Friendless Children" is published in Bradford News. It describes the twenty-six "inmates" cared for at the home; most of which are "homeless waifs", or living in "homes of indescribable kinds": * The youngest, 10-weeks-old, is a "Negro infant that was removed from squalid surroundings in the Whitechapel". * Another child is "the little one found in the Maston house at the time of the Wagoner murder". * Four of the children are the "progeny of a man named Morrison, who formerly gathered swill and lived in a hovel on the Washington Street road. The children were being fed from swill barrels". * A five-year-old boy is known as "the ‘Opiate Victim’. He was ‘doped’ with opiates of different kinds during his babyhood and is now a pitiable object lesson". · A seven-year-old girl "spent the first five years of her life in a Whitechapel hovel. She was allowed but little liberty and few persons knew of her existence. When Mr. Husted took charge of the girl, … she appeared to be an incorrigible. Her language was a grotesque mixture of Whitechapel slang and profanity and her greatest need appeared to be whiskey."

August 6: The Children’s Aid Society takes charge of the Beacon Light Mission when Rev. C. C. Husted dies in the Bradford Hospital at the age of 53. According to the August 7, 1905 Bradford Era, "Some weeks ago, Mr. Husted became ill, his malady being typhoid fever. He was taken to the Bradford Hospital and given treatment under which he rapidly recovered. About 10 days ago he was considered well enough to leave the institution and was taken to his at the Mission near Custer. After returning home his condition again developed serious symptoms and on Saturday night, he was again removed to the hospital. He was found to be suffering from an acute attack of appendicitis and on Sunday morning he was operated on. The surgeon’s knife disclosed conditions which precluded hopes of recover. He rallied from the operation, but grew weaker as the hours passed at [9:30 p.m.], the end came…The deceased is survived by his widow and eight children named respectively, Frank, Gussie, John, Victor, Ralph, Flossie, Walter and Mildred Husted." November: It costs $185.96 to run the mission this month.

December 29: Fire destroys the Browntown location (now also known as "McKean County Children’s Home") run by custodians Mr. and Mrs. John Stark. According to The Bradford Era of
December 30, 1915, "Thirty-one little inmates of the McKean County Children’s Home located near Custer City were driven from their refuge between 5 and 6 o’clock yesterday morning by the total destruction of the home by fire…Fear of a panic prevented dressing of the children before their escape from the institution and while some of the younger ones were carried the majority walked in their night clothing a quarter mile to the home of A. A. Foster on the south and to George Courtright’s residence on the north…News of the casualty quickly spread about the city and charitable persons began at once to offer clothing, money and other practical assistance to officers of the Children’s Aid Society (Mrs. John P. Melvin, Mrs. E. V. Cody, and Mrs. S. E. VanTine) under whose auspices the institution was conducted."
December 30: A meeting of the finance committee of the McKean County Children’s Home is held at the office of Hon. Lewis Emery, Jr. to discuss purchase of the Edgewood Club for the orphans made homeless by the fire at the Browntown location. The finance committee includes: Hon. Lewis Emery, Jr., chairman; H. G. Barcroft; S. G. Coffin; John Ley; S. P. Kennedy; L. E. Mallory, Sr.; W. L. Curtis; A. D. Burns; S. A. Mundy; Hon. J. W. Bouton; Hon. Samuel W. Smith; W. H. Davis; G. Scott Smith; Mrs. S. E. VanTine; Mrs. S. R. Dresser; Grace E. Emery; Mrs. J. P. Melvin; Mrs. Bey Phillips; Mrs. F. G. Crittenden; Mrs. Claude Matson; Miss Anna Miller; Mrs. A. J. Bond; and Mrs. Myron Matson.


Fire destroys a portion of the mission located in the former Edgewood Club.


John Ley donates money to erect roughly half of the present East Main Street building.

In June 1939, the name "Beacon Light Mission" is changed to "Children's Home of Bradford."

The most complete records of the mission start in 1929. They are typewritten and filed by Mrs. R. W. Edgett, Executive Secretary of the Board, who is paid for her services (she later becomes treasurer of the Board). The minutes of the Board of Directors give a picture of the mission growing dramatically, but growing with all sorts of problems – financial, social, and domestic. They also give a picture of many hard-working and dedicated persons both on the staff and on the Board, seeing to the children in their care: * * On the staff there is a superintendent or superintendents (often a husband and wife). Other titles are housekeeper, cook, laundress, boys’ supervisor, girls’ supervisor, etc. In many ways the staff seem to be oriented toward maintenance work as they were toward caring for the social and psychological needs of the children. There seems to be turnover in the position of superintendent, because he or she is not satisfied with his or her position, or the Board is not satisfied with the superintendent’s performance. * The superintendent position is not easy. The minutes speak of the older boys being saucy to and swearing at once of the female superintendents and, at another time, a boy threatening the superintendent with a jungle knife. At times, there is also in-house feuding among the staff. In 1934, the minutes report "trouble" between the superintendent and the laundress. * The Board in these years is almost completely made up of women who represent some of the best known and respected families in Bradford. The monthly meetings are held mainly either at the Women’s Literary Club or the Current Events Club. These women are quite concerned with and involved in the day-by-day ongoing problems of running the mission. The Board committees had such names as "Household Supplies", "Health and Dental Care", "Clothing", "Buildings and Grounds", "Admissions and Dismissals", "Recreation", "Education", etc. The women take the children to the dentist and eye doctor; visit sick children in the hospital; buy mittens, underwear, face cloths, etc.; talk with teachers or school principals; inspect the sanitary conditions in the washrooms; secure passes for the children at Shea’s Theatre; plan and run Halloween parties; buy a new suit for a boy about to graduate from high school; inspect a home in town where one of the older girls who is hired to do housework… * The health of the children is a continual problem and concern. Many tonsillectomies are performed. One year there are bad cases of ringworm among the boys. The home has to be quarantined a few times – once for scarlet fever and a couple of times for polio. * The behavior of the children is another problem. Occasionally, a child has to be dismissed and placed in a more sever correctional institution. In 1948 Mr. Jones, an attorney, and the staff discuss punishments with the Board. It is decided that cruel punishments should never be administered. And yet this sentence appears in the minutes: "Mr. and Mrs. Dodge (the superintendents at the time) insisted that it was necessary to whip some of them to keep them under control. * There is a close relationship between the Board and the County Commissioners, who place the children in the home and pay toward their upkeep. Often, the advice and decisions of Judge Charles G. Hubbard are sought. * The home gropes its way through the Depression years, when parents are out of work and poor, and when salaries and allowances are unbelievably low. The home deals with blackout regulations and the older boys going off to join the Armed Services during the World War II years. In the late 1940s, costs are beginning to rise and salaries of necessity have to be raised. * The plant continually grows. In 1935, Thomas Kennedy, prominent oil man, donates funds for to construct the other half of the present East Main Street building. Other growth is made possible by other generous individuals: A. J. Bond gives a monetary gift for a living room to be added to the main building; Mrs. Alfred Mulhaupt provides money for improving the grounds; the Emery family provides monies to furnish the kitchen, as well as making subsequent generous bequests. * In 1947, welfare workers inspect the home and class it as "C", which disappoints the Board.

Mr. Fred M. Salisbury is the superintendent of the Children’s Home of Bradford.

Mr. Howard Hill is the superintendent of the Children’s Home of Bradford.

The Board of Directors is headed by Dr. R. Chapin Smith. Other members of the Board include: Mrs. Donald Bovaird, Francis Cahill, Mr. Coatsworth, Mrs. Bennett Friedman, Leo C. Gallina, Robert P. Habgood Jr., Thomas Hannon, Mrs. William Healey, William D. Mackowski, Mrs. Raymond T. Maurey, Miss Helen McKay, William McCord, Howard Nickel, Mrs. Willis Oliver, William Schubert, Mrs. Leslie B. Silverstine, Mrs. Edward R. Torgler, Mrs. Walker White, Mrs. Robert Wick, James D. Wolfe, Mrs. John W. Bryner Sr., the Rev. Dr. Richard W. Evans, Mrs. Victor Solomon, and Mrs. J. Paul Jones.

The Children’s Home becomes affiliated with the Child Welfare League of America and establishes a goal to provide the best child care possible
October 22, 1972: An open house and dedication ceremony are held for the three new Ramsbottom Center cottages with guest speaker Mrs. Helene Wohlgemuth, Secretary of the Department of Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. $425,000 in construction and furnishings for the cottages are made possible by a financial gift of Mrs. Grace Ramsbottom, well known philanthropist of Bradford. Anne Mitchell is social director of the Children’s Home; Mrs. Sandy O’Connell is secretary.

Thomas E. Urban is named Executive Director of the Children’s Home. The Board of Directors change the emphasis of the agency and begin the development of a residential treatment center. Here, young people will learn new ways to live and function within the community.
March 22, 1973: Dr. R. Chapin Smith, President of the Board of Directors, announces that the Ramsbottom Center cottages are officially in use as Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICFMR). Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Ballangee are the houseparents.

75th Anniversary - The Children’s Home cares for children between 10 and 18-years-old who are experiencing problems of adjustment at home and school and lack good decision-making ability. 47 adolescents are being served from Pennsylvania and New York counties in the full-service residential treatment center. The agency’s goal is to provide quality child care in a learning environment where personal growth may develop. Future plans include providing a broader base of community-based services.

February: March: A basic education department establishment is authorized. 387 East Main Street is acquired.
June 4: 80th Anniversary - an open house is held at East Main Street building. The Children’s Home consists of five components: housing in the East Main Street building for 30 clients; the Alternative Education Program serving 23 children in the East Main Street building (the program is certified to provide special education services to children who are learning disabled/socially and emotionally disturbed); the Ramsbottom cottages house 24 children and young adults who are severely or profoundly mentally-retarded and who also have physical and/or emotional problems; the trained foster care program for 15 children; as well as an apartment building for six children, aged 16 and over who have no home and need to transition into community living. The children come from 32 counties, primarily in Pennsylvania, but also from New York. The home’s programs and services are financed by the federal government and private contributions.

The Alternative Education Program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. March: A pension plan is instituted for the employees. May: Asbestos is removed from the main building. November: New board members are: Denise Jadlowiec, William Moore, Craig Hartburg, Robert Grant, William Mackowski, and Lee Morehouse. A job training program is approved.

A long range plan is completed. Stan Heckathorn is elected president of the Board. A picnic pavilion is built on the main building grounds by high school students. The group home at 11 Potter Street is purchased. The Alternative Education Program is moved to Second Ward School. The Adult Day Services program is moved to 387 East Main Street.
June 30: The boys’ group home is opened.

The Walker Avenue group home is purchased. New furniture is purchased for the Alternative Education Program. The PA Outcome Project is entered. A property on Lorana Avenue is purchased for Ramsbottom. The treatment area and fiscal offices of the main building are renovated.
January 4: the Walker Avenue group home begins operation.


Rev. John Kline is elected President of the Board. A full-time psychologist is hired. The education leave policy is adapted.
May 24: The Lorana Avenue group home opens for boys. May of 1991-The Lorana Avenue Group Home is purchased.

Medical Assistance reimbursement issue is developed. A partial hospitalization program is developed. December 1992: The Children’s Center for Treatment and Education opens in the former Custer City Elementary School.

The 90th Anniversary Celebration is held with a keynote address given by The Honorable Thomas Frampton. Music is performed by "The Suncatchers", a vocal group made up of residents of the home. Agency programs include: residential treatment facilities, specialized foster family care, the Alternative Education Program, and an Intensive Treatment Program. Children’s Home of Bradford Treatment and Education Center in Custer City hosts an open house. In May of 1994, 23 Williams Street is purchased. September 1995, 8 School Street Group home is purchased.

The Children’s Home is accredited with commendation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The agency meets the highest standards not only in health care, but in every aspect of its operation from how the food service is run to how the property is maintained. Accreditation will allow for the state to pick up 100% of the cost of care for children - costs shift from the counties to Medicare. For the first time since 1916, children aren’t living at the East Main Street building - all the children are either living in the 8 group homes or in foster care. The Alternative Education Program operates a school in both Bradford and Port Allegany.

The Children’s Home of Bradford changes its name to "Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems" in order to better explain what it does. The agency provides a multitude of services to 250 children, including: mental health; educational; out-of-home treatment services at eight group homes (each serving eight girls or boys aged 8 - 18); psychiatric evaluations; psychological assessment; counseling; behavioral management; partial hospitalization; a 24-hour intervention program; and adult day treatment services for mentally retarded/developmentally disabled clients. Two group homes are dedicated. The group home at 23 Williams Street is officially named the "Virginia Loveland Miles House". Miles, who died in 1995, was a noted benefactor and community activist in Bradford for decades. She once lived in the home named in her memory. She received many honors and citations for her volunteer work and leadership, particularly in the areas of education and helping children. The group home at 130 Jackson Avenue is named the "Robert P. Habgood Jr. House". Habgood, a prominent Bradford industrialist and civic leader until his death in 1989, had a long record of community service, particularly in health care matters. He served on the board of the Children’s Home for many years and was instrumental in raising nearly $1 million for program development for the agency. In September of 1997, 574 East Main Street is purchased. In November of 1997, 940 South Avenue Group Home is purchased.

Beacon Light opens a 10-bed emergency shelter for at-risk school-aged children on the second floor of the 800 East Main Street building, who must be temporarily removed from their home. The shelter provides a safe and secure residential setting for children, with educational supports to help individuals maintain their school work and therapeutic counseling to assist in resolving emotional and psychological problems. Compliance with mandated facility requirements is also a concern. The current shelter is not handicapped accessible. While the shelter passes all fire and facility safety regulations of the Department of Public Welfare, it will not meet the treatment standards of The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) upon its next evaluation in 2002. Among numerous issues of concern are: the need for air conditioning, surveillance systems, and facilities to meet specialized needs.

The agency takes over the management of a 16 bed RTF in Towanda, PA. The site was formally managed by Northern Tier Children’s Home.

Ground is broken for the construction of the new Emergency Shelter on the 800 East Main Street campus. The new facility was designed with the input of the shelter staff and the needs of the child in crisis in mind. It will be built on the East Main Street campus across the road from the Ramsbottom Center Cottages, and will be accessed from First Street by a new driveway to merge with the current driveway by our garages. The climate controlled, 13,500 square foot facility will have 20 private bedrooms, offices for individual and group counseling, two classrooms, a large recreation room, and an integrated security system to assure client and staff safety and comfort. It is also anticipated that parts of the facility will be used for training and other group meetings. The education and recreation wing will be available to schedule special events and can be closed off from the main shelter facility. A separate entrance to this area will be available.102 Williams Street becomes the first Waiver home for Ramsbottom Center, housing two adults.

The Emergency Shelter project is completed and a ceremony is held with a dedication of a donor wall and commemorative Board of Directors plaque is erected.

2005-Juvenile Sexual Offender Residential Services open.


March: Youngsville Center opens.
August: Congress Street Group home opens.

2007-TEU retires after 35 years

September: Port Psychological is acquired and renamed McKean Clinic.
December: Richard Seager is appointed new President/CEO.


July: Family Based Services begins in Warren.
August: Beacon Light begins operation of the Forest/Warren outpatient Clinics.
October: Beacon Light begins operating blended case management and resources.

2009-SAY program opens in First Street Building

July: MST begins.
November: Peer Support opens as a joint venture with Dickenson Mental Health.
December: STAR opens.

2010-Adult Consumer Advisory Board convened

June: Student Assistance Mentor Program Begins.
July: Drop in Center.
August: Warren AEDY opens.
October: School Based Behavioral Health.

2011-Adult Consumer Advisory Board convened

March: STRIDE East opens.
April: Mobile Medication opens.
May: Bridgeport academy opens with new addition including an on-site clinic.
July: Recovery Assistance Program.
September: STRIDE East opens.

Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems

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