Two men loom over the history of Loretto. The first, Price Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, was a Russian prince responsible for the founding of Loretto in 1799. Once cradled in the arms of Catherine the Great, Gallitzin rejected the career path his father chose for him in the Russian military, and instead followed his mother’s spiritual leanings towards the Roman Catholic church. With a letter of recommendation from John Carroll, he was sent to America for educational purposes, where he remained and entered the priesthood not long after his arrival. In Loretto, Gallitzin founded the first english speaking Roman Catholic settlement west of the Allegheny Front.
Later, Charles M. Schwab (of steel magnate fame, not finance) would grow up in Loretto, attend Saint Francis College (though not graduate), and frequently return to his hometown. Schwab gained incredible wealth as he developed the Bethlehem Steel Company into one of the largest companies in the world. He used some of his fortunes to construct his Loretto estate, Immergrün (german for evergreen), which is visible from many vantage points in Loretto and the Saint Francis campus. Given the Catholic underpinnings of Loretto, the legacy of its most famous resident is certainly ironic. Schwab spent freely, lived a fast lifestyle (his only child was born to his mistress) and died broke. After his death in 1939, Immergrün was sold by his estate. It is now owned by the Fransciscan Friars and is an active friary. Though the gardens surrounding Immergrün are open to the public, Immergrün itself is not.