If visitors followed Old Boalsburg Road to the old stone walls and white gate at the drive to Columbus Chapel and the Boal Mansion Museum on Monday, they came to a simple gray sign on a post outside.
In black letters on white paint, the sign gave the quiet message: “Closed for the season.”
The problem? Monday was Columbus Day, and Columbus Chapel, one of the few locations in the United States with artifacts from the famed explorer’s home, is usually a draw on the holiday. People come to see Columbus’ desk, priceless works of art and relics purported to be pieces of the cross on which Jesus Christ died.
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According to the Columbus Chapel and Boal Estate Society, “recent events have interrupted business” at the property. Those events would be the federal arrest on child exploitation and child pornography charges of CEO and Boal family scion Christopher Lee.
Neighbors said security guards have been employed by the Lee family. The guards were seen patrolling the property Monday as some visitors looking to tour the property turned into the driveway, saw the sign and turned around.
The property generally is open through Oct. 31, Tuesday through Sunday from 1:30-5 p.m.
The society says it is “committed to education and the preservation of the historical resources” of the museum and chapel, and that it intends “to honor that commitment for many years to come.”