- The Saint Francis Resort property occupied more than 200 acres when it was purchased by the Order of Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in 1895. Half of the acreage was sold in 1925 to the developers of Lake Arrowhead. Would we have Lake Arrowhead without Saint Francis?
- Before the construction of the resort, the land was owned and occupied by the Glover Family whose house and estate were considered the finest in these parts. The Glovers who emigrated to the area in the early 1800s from South Carolina were the only people in Denville and the surrounding areas of Morris County to own slaves.
- The Sisters made all the money needed to build their resort through Father Joch who began offering the Kneipp Water Cure at Saint Francis. The Kneipp cure concentrated on water immersion and water therapy, exercise, nutrition, and the balance of mind and body. It was the first of its kind establishment offering the Water Cure in all of eastern United States. The people that flocked to Denville were regularly brought down to the banks of the Rockaway River. As Father Joch recalled it, “I was obliged to emulate the example of John the Baptist. That day the Rockaway River became the River Jordan.”
- The Original 1820 Glover Mansion, which occupied the property when the Sisters purchased it in the 1890s, initially became the Protectory and the Chapel. After money began flowing in, the first additions to the building to make it look like it does today took place in 1908, 1910, 1915, with major additions in 1927 and throughout the 1960s. Interestingly enough, the original Glover Mansion was never demolished but has been absorbed by the vast new structures. The Glover Mansion and its rooms are still within the walls of the Saint Francis today!
- Between the 1930s and 1960s, the Saint Francis Health Resort specialized in hydrotherapeutic and physiotherapy treatments and served 4,000 guests annually by 1963, making it the largest economic enterprise in the municipality and its largest individual taxpayer.
- Guests to the famous resort included Justices of the Supreme Court, prominent actors (such as Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, and Frank Sinatra), Congressmen, and Bishops. It was also frequented in the early 1900s by Louis Fenn Wadsworth, the person that is often credited with creating the modern game of baseball as we know it today.
- Before the demand for the water therapies waned and the Sisters began converting the health resort to full time residential community for seniors in 1978 (fully converted to the current status in 1991), the resort was also widely known for the quality of its food – all grown on their own farms that were part of the complex in Denville. Their apple orchards that surrounded the premises were also used by the Sisters to make wine.
- A Denville Herald article from July 24, 1941, claimed: “Denville would never be what it is today if Saint Francis were not here. In direct proportion, as the resort expanded, Denville grew. When in 1895, the Sisters arrived in Denville, it was a poor, neglected, unknown place. There was one grocery store without a delivery wagon. The post office was in a private home. The train station was a hut. There was no barber, shoemaker, etc. The Health Resort put Denville on the map.
- The area where the Denville Library, the Denville Museum, and the Community Garden now stand belonged to Saint Francis all the way up to 1970 when 11 acres of land were sent to Denville. The historic museum building was physically moved to the area first and was the only structure to occupy it.
Photos courtesy of the Denville Historical Society