In 2008, the Eden Hall Foundation gifted Eden Hall Farm to Chatham University. Located in Gibsonia, PA, Eden Hall Farm was originally developed and built by H. J. Heinz, Co. executive Sebastian Mueller (1860-1938) to serve as a convalescent home and vacation retreat for the female employees of Heinz. In his later years, Mueller dictated his express wishes for the continuation of his project in his Last Will and Testament and appointed trustees for the farm. Other than minor bequests, the entirety of Mueller’s estate went to establish Eden Hall Farm.
Although Eden Hall Farm was officially created in 1939, the farm did not open to guests until 1951 after construction was delayed due to the country’s involvement in WWII. The farm operated for the next thirty years as a non-profit corporation and any female employee of H.J. Heinz Co. could spend vacation and convalescent time there. In 2008, the Eden Hall Foundation gifted Eden Hall Farm to Chatham University with a mission to promote sustainability and empower women. Today, the Eden Hall Campus is undergoing significant changes from the retreat home of Heinz employees as work is underway to renovate and build a campus dedicated to sustainability that will serve more than 1,500 students. Following in the footsteps of one of Chatham’s most noted alumnae Rachel Carson, the Eden Hall Campus will incorporate sustainable designs which will render it a net-positive energy campus with natural water management strategies.
The Eden Hall Collection housed in the University Archives includes the history of Eden Hall Farm from its creation by Mueller until its donation to the University. The material covers a range of items, including the original land deeds of purchase by Mueller and his wife that comprise the area of Eden Hall Farm, the Last Will and Testament of Mueller, architectural and landscape designs of Eden Hall Farm, materials related to the estate of Mueller, numerous photographs of both Mueller in his lifetime as well as Eden Hall Farm and its female guests, and the creation of Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in 2007.