Ligonier Valley encompasses the area between Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Hill, and includes Ligonier, its primary commercial center; Cook Township; and the towns of Laughlintown, Rector, and Stahlstown. The valley's dramatic, mountainous setting only fifty miles east of Pittsburgh has made it a destination for affluent city dwellers since the late nineteenth century, when the Mellon brothers built a spur from the Pennsylvania Railroad at Latrobe east along Loyalhanna Creek to access the valley's timber and limestone resources. From the early to mid-twentieth century, the valley attracted secluded estates and private clubs designed by such notable architects as Marcel Breuer ( WE30), Roger Cesare Ferri ( WE31), Benno Janssen, and Peter Berndtson. The 6,200-acre Rolling Rock Club was founded c. 1916 as a shooting preserve for the Mellon family. Edward Purcell Mellon designed the original c. 1925 brick clubhouse. Janssen, who designed some of the club's interior rooms, is lauded for his picturesque Hunt Stables and Kennels built of stuccoed stone, which were converted to condominiums in 1984 by MacLachlan, Cornelius and Filoni. Only the Rolling Rock stables and farm administration buildings are visible along PA 381.
Ligonier Valley is a private and secluded area where many of the estate houses are set well back from public roads. However, the growing campus of the Valley School of Ligonier, a private elementary school on Linn Run Road east of Rector, is visible from the road, and its main building, the former house of William C. Carnegie (Andrew's nephew), may be attributed to Brandon Smith (1932; Lupine Lane). A recent addition to the environmentally conscious building movement is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's field station at the Powdermill Nature Reserve. The nature center building addition, which expands the exhibition and education space, is itself a tool to teach sustainable building techniques (2007, Pfaffmann + Associates; PA 381, south of Rector). The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art has one of its four branches in a newly built structure of historic logs at 1 Boucher Lane along PA 711. The other branches are in Altoona (see BL10), Loretto (see CA5), and Johnstown (see CA28).
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