Our History

Originally known as Pleasant Valley Farm, the log cabin lodge, or the Manor, was built on 350 acres of property between 1942-1944 by a local businessman, Frank Ryan, for him and his family. The log cabin was later purchased by the De La Salle Christian Brothers in the late 1950’s.

The Ryan Family

The log cabin lodge was built between 1942-1944 by a local businessman, Frank Ryan, who brought down 64 railroad cars of logs from Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, along with log home craftsmen.

Mr. and Mrs. Ryan used the lodge as their home with their two daughters. They took the train from Aurora to Chicago where they began a greeting card company called Ryan Arts, which specialized in personalized Christmas cards and wedding invitations. Local residents still comment on how they came to Pleasant Valley Farm for meetings, parties, and business.

The Retreat Center

The De La Salle Christian Brothers purchased the property from the Ryan Family in 1958 and sold off close to 300 acres right away. The purchase was to provide retreat space for the Brothers and students from their four high schools in the Chicago area at that time. For many years retreats were week-long and silent. Students slept in the bunk beds along the balcony until the dormitory was built in 1960.

La Salle Manor Today

The original vision of the Brothers and their founder, St. John Baptist de la Salle, is still alive today. The Manor is a place for people of all ages to reflect on their lives and discover God’s love and grace. We continue to have a special ministry to high school students in which the Manor Retreat team directs over 45 high school retreats a year. We host a variety of groups from all over the world.

Next, read about our roots.

Drawing by Brother Leo Jones FSC