Posts Tagged ‘fire’

1880s hotel destroyed by fire in Irwin, PA

March 6, 2009

A 3-story hotel, built in the 1880s along Main Street in Irwin, Pennsylvania, was destroyed by fire yesterday. Only minor injuries are reported, but 16 men living there lost everything. The hotel had 35 rooms, a bar, and dining room but all that remains is a brick shell, the roof and third floor having collapsed. The town’s main street, in an uncommon arrangement, runs perpendicular to the Lincoln Highway, which passes a couple blocks south of the hotel.


The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the fire was started by a grease fire from a resident cooking breakfast; throwing water on it spread the flames. (Trib photo above; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also reported on it.) A police officer was able to go door-to-door to evacuate, and firefighters arrived minutes later, but the fire chief said it was hopeless despite more than 20 fire companies responding. The historic Lamp Theater next door appears to be safe. This follows 5 weeks after a fire destroyed a historic inn in Fort Loudon, Pennsylvania.

Three Sleepy Hollow Tavern updates

July 17, 2008

I have three updates on Sleepy Hollow Tavern near Ligonier, Pennsylvania, a 1939 roadside landmark along the Lincoln Highway that burned in February.

An article in today’s Tribune Review reports that the contractor demolishing and rebuilding the place has found numerous treasures including a couple huge safes. Fred Haeflein says one of the safes is a 100-year-old, 1,000-pound combo-lock model, hand-painted with gold lining and braided metal on the outside. Other items include a popcorn machine, brass lighting fixtures, a Corona metal beer cooler, and objects that hung on the walls such as antique skis, golf clubs, and “various Lincoln Highway road signs.”

The Trib also recently reported that Ligonier filmmaker Andrea Niapas, who produced a 2007 docudrama of Amelia Earhart’s last flight, is documenting Haeflein as he dismantles and rebuilds the tavern. She sometimes stands atop construction vehicles to get better footage of the building’s selective demolition.

Finally, Clinton Piper wrote to say that his mother volunteers to compile obituaries for a local database and was searching the Latrobe Bulletin on microfilm when she came across some interesting references to two buildings on the Sleepy Hollow site:
1. Overland Inn burned prior to 1926
2. Gas station destroyed by fire 10/18/26

A later gas station at the site is pictured in my PA LH book (shown above) but little is known about it.

Online photos show Sleepy Hollow after the fire

March 14, 2008

The charred remains of Sleepy Hollow Tavern are sad to see. Johnathan Myers has posted photos of the place showing the destruction caused by a fire that started late February 25 along the Lincoln Highway west of Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Click the link above to view them.


Here’s an early postcard of the tavern in happier times….

Can’t go wrong with “food prepared mother’s way”!

More Sleepy Hollow Tavern history recalled

February 26, 2008

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review ran another article today recounting some history of Sleepy Hollow Tavern. Former workers, owners, and customers offer a variety of fond recollections. As Julie Donovan, public relations director for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, said, “It seemed no matter who owned it, it was always busy. It was definitely a Laurel Highlands landmark, and I hate to see it go.”


Above: A photo that was on the wall of Sleepy Hollow when I first visited in 1989 shows the 1930s sandwich stand and gas pumps.

Although a descendant of former owners says it was always Sleepy Hollow, my recollection from a 1989 visit is that that’s correct for the restaurant but not the land around it. The area was known as Kelley’s Hollow; co-owner Joe Neiman’s habit of dozing in his rocking chair in the 1930s led to jokes about Sleepy Hollow, which was used to name the tavern that opened in 1940.


Click the screen shot above for the full Trib article.

Sleepy Hollow Tavern fire being investigated

February 25, 2008

Cy’s matchbook
Above: A vintage Sleepy Hollow matchbook, courtesy Cyrus Hosmer.

The weekend fire at the former Sleepy Hollow Tavern along the Lincoln Highway in western Pennsylvania has left the building charred and condemned. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, after burning overnight Saturday onto Sunday, firefighters were called back at 11:30 Sunday morning when the roof reignited. The second floor, which once housed a dozen hotel rooms, has fallen into the first floor restaurant. Click the image below for the full story from the Trib:


Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Banker, who led some 20 area fire crews, said when he arrived, smoke was coming out of the building from every direction. After attempting to enter the 1939 wood-frame structure, they turned back and could only fight it from outside. There were no injuries reported, but KDKA-TV reports that state police are saying the blaze is suspicious in nature.

Sleepy Hollow was a popular stop since being built 1939-1940, but suffered after the westbound lanes of Lincoln Highway/US 30 were moved across Loyalhanna Creek. A small causeway was added, and after some success as a buffet in the 1980s, the business has had various remodelings. The Trib reports that the most recent owners tried filing for bankruptcy in November.

WPXI-TV has a short story calling it a biker bar. KDKA now has their video report online – click the images below:


The surrounding area remains visually stunning: in 2005, the county purchased 1,239 forested acres from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for $900,000 to create The Loyalhanna Gorge Greenway, stretching 3 miles along both sides of the Loyalhanna Creek from the Kingston Dam to Longbridge through Chestnut Ridge.

Fire Destroys LH Landmark near Ligonier, PA

February 24, 2008

US 30 eastbound was closed for 8 hours overnight as fire destroyed the Hollow Tavern in Unity Twp, Westmoreland County, just west of Ligonier, and about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Built 1939-40 as a restaurant and hotel along the Lincoln Highway in the Loyalhana Gorge, it was perhaps best known for a small concrete causeway across the water. The 2-lane LH ran past its door, but when westbound lanes were moved to the other side of the water in the 1950s, half their customer base disappeared. They fought for, and won, the small access crossover.
PA Sleepy Hollow

The location, popular for its view, had housed a gas station and sandwich stand since the 1920s. The area was known as Kelley’s Hollow but acquired the Sleepy Hollow moniker from one of the owners’ habit of dozing in his rocking chair. The building resembled a big log cabin, and its old wood construction made fighting the fire difficult. Click HERE for no-narrator 1-minute video of the blaze from KDKA-TV (after a 15-second commercial).


Also, click on the image above for a brief text report from WTAE-TV.

Fire at Mountain View Inn, Greenburg, PA

December 20, 2007

A fire broke out around noon today at the Mountain View Inn, a landmark along the Lincoln Highway 4 miles east of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The fire was near a central tower, which was damaged, but no one was injured and the inn was set to reopen later today. Brief reports were in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The hotel, opened in 1924 (as pictured above), sits between the Lincoln Highway and its bypass, US 30. The tower, now used for the logo of the inn, is a more recent addition.