This page is about The Wilderness Club and the community of Folmont on top of Allegheny Mountain in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This project has been a very large part of my professional life for the last 40 years.
The Wilderness Club is a Pennsylvania Limited Partnership formed in 1972 by a few close friends and relatives of William L. Nuzzo, a Pittsburgh civil engineer. The purpose of the partnership was to develop a tract of land in Somerset County, Pennsylvania as a residential mountain community. Bill's partners included three other civil engineers, two accountants, two lawyers, a bricklayer, a teacher, a salesman and, most importantly, Bill's aunt Rose. The partnership started with 600 acres along US Route 30, which had been purchased in 1950 by Bill's late uncle and aunt, John B. and Antoinette V. Folino. Before the year was out, the partnership had purchased an additional 1,000 acres of land and the McNeal home contiguous with the original Folino tract. Since uncle John had always referred to his mountain land on the Lincoln Highway as FOLMONT (FOLino MOuNTain), this name and this logo were adopted for the new community that was to grow on the Bald Knob summit of Allegheny Mountain.
Of the 1,600 acres of land included in Folmont, 800 acres was the remainder of a much larger tract once owned by Mitchell E. McNeal and later by his son, Thomas E. McNeal. The McNeals had been in the timbering business since the turn of the century, having worked many thousands of acres in Cambria, Somerset and Bedford Counties. In 1927, Mitchell McNeal acquired over 600 acres that included a log hunting cabin, which he and previous owners called the wilderness club, at the head waters of Breastworks Run near a cold, reliable, limestone spring. The cabin burned to the ground not long after, and his son, Thomas, built a five-bedroom stone home on the same site around 1935. Here's what the house looked like in 1955. Since the head waters area had always been known as "The Wilderness" and the old log cabin as "The Wilderness Club", the new partnership adopted that name and have always referred to the stone house as "The Lodge".
In the process of researching
and surveying the land, Bill learned that the earthen remains of a fort and over
one mile of an historic military road from the French and Indian War were
located on the property. Further research indicated that this fort and
road were the only remaining artifacts from that war that had not been disturbed
by man since they were built in 1758. Also found near the fort was the
stone foundation of a structure later found to be that of a home and tavern
called The Fountain Inn, built in 1786 by one John (Saucy Jack) Miller.
Bill and his partners in the Wilderness Club decided that these remains should
be preserved as an historic park and incorporated into the park system of
Although planning for the new community had begun in 1972, it was not until late in 1974 that a final plan evolved and sales of lots in Folmont began. The first subdivision plan (SP-1) was located along New Baltimore Road, where the small trout stream, Breastworks Run, flowed from its headwaters near Fort Dewart toward the village of New Baltimore. All lots in the subdivision were five to ten acres in size. The overall concept was to limit the ultimate density of housing so that on-lot sewage disposal systems and water wells would be feasible throughout the 1,600-acre community. The Wilderness Club also imposed a set of environmental and architectural covenants on the land that would promote a purely residential village with appropriate mountain architecture and a minimum of disturbance to the natural environment. The concept of a gated community with restrictive covenants on very large lots turned out to be very unique and successful. In 1976 Bill Nuzzo founded the Folmont Property Owners' Association, Inc. as a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation to enforce the covenants, enhance the community and preserve the park system. In 1999 the Wilderness Club deeded the Folmont park system to the association. In 2012 the association began work to add Fort Dewart to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1996, after 25 years of commuting back and forth from Monroeville, Bill and Helga Nuzzo finally moved to their mountain house on a full-time basis. It is now their home on the Rooftop of Pennsylvania surrounded by the community of Folmont.
In the left frame is my very ambitious outline for a story and history of Folmont. The Folmont Property Owners Association web site is at http://www.folmontpropertyownersassociation.com/.