Downtown Interested in Tranquility Gardens Transplant | New

ByShannon J. Cortes

Jun 30, 2022

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The land that for years occupied Tranquility Gardens will soon be sold, and the statues of philosophers and meaningful messages will need to find a new home.

Real estate owner Steve Purich, who has turned his land into a peaceful getaway, is now eyeing the town of Johnstown as a possible destination for his public oasis.

“All I ask is to try,” he said.

Purich originally built the Upper Yoder Township Gardens over a decade ago as a getaway and educational space where visitors could learn the famous lessons of ancient thinkers, such as Plato and Socrates, and of modern public figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi.

There are also lessons from the Hindu deity Ganesh, Gautama Buddha, Confucius, a popular Native American story involving two wolves, and Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of truth, justice, balance, and peace. order.

Purich has dedicated years to creating youth programs to support local youth based around Tranquility Gardens and inviting them to the property to Stop, Breathe and Reflect.

The very first lesson he teaches takes place in a pond in front of the gardens, where he tells visitors that, like in a turbulent stream, they must let their minds settle down before they can progress in any endeavor. .

At the base of all the collected lessons is the concept that a person should know himself, have balanced thoughts, take care of others and not shun education.

New house

For years the gardens lay dormant and Purich’s health forced him to move to a new house.

With the prospect of selling the land on the horizon, he wants to relaunch his education program which ran from around 2009 to 2015, as a last-ditch effort to help area residents – current and future.

“The message to the community is ‘I’m going to move,'” Purich said. “Am I putting this stuff anywhere or am I putting it somewhere it will feel good?”

His idea is to take at least three paved or grassy lots in the city and turn them into miniature quiet zones using the statues and messages already at his disposal.

These locations should be centrally located near Greater Johnstown Middle and High Schools, Bishop McCort Catholic High School and Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, so they can best benefit these groups, Purich said.

He has his eye on spaces in Hornerstown, Moxham and the city’s 8th arrondissement for this reason and is investigating the use of these properties.

In the new gardens, Purich wants to install archways covered in greenery, place topiaries and teach regional students to give the tours.

They will also be responsible for maintaining the grounds, instilling in them personal responsibility for the grounds.

Purich said he would get funding to create scholarships to supplement learners’ work and wants to reach out to corporate sponsors, such as Lowes and The Home Depot, to help shape the sites.

Last year, Purich attempted to turn the current location of the gardens into a wellness and education retreat area, but failed to obtain a waiver to do so from the township zoning board by Upper Yoder.


The steward’s determination to transplant the shrine stems from a body of testimonials from visitors of all ages that he has collected over the years, as well as letters of approval signed by local health care officials.

Each survey asks the client to rate different aspects of the field and provide feedback afterwards.

One form says the Tranquility Gardens is a “great place to hang out and build a team”, while another says the area is a “very relaxing, non-stimulating environment”.

Most are glowing, five-star reviews of the pitches and posts.

One of the mentions comes from the president of the Conemaugh Health System Market, William Caldwell.

“Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center supports efforts to make Tranquility Gardens a community resource,” he wrote. “The vision you and your team have for this unique property would have the potential to further expand wellness and education efforts in our immediate community and perhaps the region.”

Purich recently sent this collection to community leaders with a letter asking for help with the relocation project.

This included Mike Kane, president of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, who is supporting the effort.

“Steve had been working on this for a while and we appreciate his interest in continuing,” he said. “It would be great if he found a new home.”

Mike Tedesco, president and CEO of Vision Together 2025, described Purich’s project as “conceptually brilliant”.

“Any project that both improves the health and well-being of young people in the community and beautifies the city is certainly a worthwhile project,” he said.

Tedesco has previously discussed the gardens with Purich, but noted that finding locations is the biggest challenge of the relocation work.

However, the fact that Tranquility Gardens is already a nonprofit will help in the end, as that alone will allow the advisory board to partner with other community groups, he said.

Tedesco added that Purich’s concept is “definitely a project worth supporting”.

Mental Health

Purich also sees gardens as a way to address a growing mental health crisis affecting children and teens.

“I know this stuff works because it worked for me,” he said.

The Serbian immigrant relied on these philosophical messages in his youth to guide him as his father fled religious persecution in the former Soviet Union and he and his family struggled to survive without their patriarch.

“When I see a child in pain, I think of myself,” he said. “I know what it means to have nothing. I know what it means to do badly at school. I know it’s not too late.

That’s why he wants to help.

There are several scientific and health studies that show the benefits of mindfulness and philosophy.

According to the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles Health, “Mindfulness research has identified a wide range of benefits in different areas of psychological health, such as reduced anxiety, depression, rumination and emotional reactivity”.

Additionally, studies have shown that mindfulness helps increase well-being, positive affect, and focus, the center states.

UCLA also lists the benefits of instant awareness as “helpful in supporting physical health by improving immune system function, sleep quality, as well as lowering blood pressure.” Structural and functional brain changes have also been documented in areas associated with attention, emotional regulation, empathy, and body awareness.