The P.E.R.C

The Presbyterian Event and Retreat Center (PERC) is an unfolding mission and ministry of First Presbyterian Church, Auburn, New York. Located at what was known as the Case Mansion, the Center provides hospitality and programming for spiritual transformation, educational enrichment, fellowship and creativity.

Following Galatians 4:19 — until Christ is formed in you — the Center offers programs and activities for spiritual  transformation and renewal.

In upholding 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Center aims to be a place of healing and wholeness. [“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20]

Expressing one of the great themes of the Reformed tradition of “a faithful stewardship that shuns ostentation and seeks proper use of the gifts of God’s creation,” the Center supports a variety activities in building community through local artisans and crafters, care of the environment, and farming as well as sustainable energy.

The Center hosts various groups throughout the year and offers the following retreat and event options:

Personal and Family Retreats — Reflect, Refresh, Renew, Refocus
Come and spend a day or a weekend or longer in which we offer solitude and space to pray, walk, think, and relax...

Group Retreats
Use our facility and grounds to create the perfect environment for a successful group retreat.

Special Events, Group Gatherings, Workshops, Conferences

Collaboration with individuals and organizations for opportunities in building healthy and authentic relationships supporting community.

The beginnings of this ministry extend to 1845 when Dr. Sylvester Willard became a part of First Presbyterian Church.  He and his wife, Jane Case Willard, were benefactors of First Presbyterian Church where Dr. Willard also served as an elder for 38 years. (1848 - 1886).

Theodore Willard Case, the builder of the Case Mansion, was the grandson of  Theodore Pettibone Case, brother of Jane Case Willard. Theodore Case devised the method of  putting sound on film. He is credited with inventing “talking pictures.” His work was done in the  laboratory behind his home, the former Willard Mansion, now the Cayuga Museum.

In 1931, having sold the sound on film technology to Fox,  Theodore Case built the Case Mansion.  The MacDougall and Boyd mansions were demolished to make way for the new house, which is 36,000 square feet.

With his fortunes waning, Theodore Case gave the Case Mansion to the city of Auburn in 1938.

From 1938 to 1946 the Case Mansion was used for various purposes, including a National Youth Administration center, housing women who lived and worked in the mansion, making sheets, pillowcases, and towels for wartime supply.

In 1946 the Carmelite Friars purchased the home from the city for use as a monastery and training of priests. In 1972 the Carmelites began offering shelter to mentally disabled people at the mansion. Afterwards, the Fathers invited a group of volunteers to move in and shelter mentally disabled veterans. The service came to be called the Unity House. By 1975 the Carmelites could no longer afford to keep the Case Mansion property.

In the meantime, First Presbyterian Church continued its mission and ministry.  On April 5, 1973 the church’s old building, which was located by the arterial, was destroyed by the collapse of its steeple. The congregation determined the church had to be demolished and the site sold. The search began for a new site. The Carmelite Fathers offered the land next to the monastery, and there the new First Presbyterian Church was built in 1975.

As the Carmelites’  financial crisis deepened, the volunteers appealed to the First Presbyterian Church to buy the Case Mansion and continue the program.  The church did so, thus embarking on yet another enormous mission in the city of Auburn.

The church was instrumental in the development of Unity House.  The program operated for 35 years in the Case Mansion and has expanded to other locations as well. It has grown from serving 24 disabled veterans to serving more than 700 clients a day in several counties. With changes in mental health services, the Unity House residence program left the mansion at the end of 2011.

After a period of prayer and discernment, at its stated meeting in December 2016, the session approved plans in redesigning the Case Mansion as the church’s new Presbyterian Event and Retreat Center (PERC).