Posts Tagged ‘roadhouse’

Follow-up on Mountain View cites cash flow

January 26, 2009

An article in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Mountain View Inn near Greensburg, Pa., had not gotten the loan it needed and was closing.

“First Commonwealth Bank on Friday refused to renew a revolving line of credit the innkeepers said they needed to see the hotel through the four slowest months for the hospitality industry,” according to the article.


Despite 60 weddings booked this year (a 50% increase), the owners of the Lincoln Highway landmark said they needed the funds to “see the hotel through the four slowest months for the hospitality industry.” They also cited competition from numerous national hotel chains that have opened nearby. In recent decades, the Boohers invested $4 million in building two new wings, doubling the inn’s capacity to 90 rooms.

Famous guests included Harrison Ford, the Dalai Lama, Fred Rogers, Arnold Palmer, Bernadette Peters, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Guy Lombardo.

PA Lincoln Highway-era business to close

January 22, 2009

The Mountain View Hotel & Conference Center, a historic hotel and restaurant founded 1924, is expected to close on Sunday, saddening not only fans of roadside rests and historic hotels, but shocking brides and others who have receptions planned.

Located between old and new routings of the Lincoln Highway east of Greensburg, the popular local landmark was one of the last old-style county hotels along the LH in Pennsylvania. Situated atop a small ridge, it also was part of the tradition in the state of roadhouses that located on mountaintops to serve the boiling radiators of early autos. The P-G and Trib both carried the news. Updates ran here and here.


The Trib noted that owner Vance Booher III blamed the recession as the most recent factor hurting business, and that his bank “has refused to extend a line of credit that would keep the hotel open. Unless he can obtain an emergency loan by the weekend, he will have ‘no feasible alternative but to cease all major operations.'” That does leave a slim window of hope for continued operation.

The inn’s 89 guest rooms are each uniquely decorated, from elegant 18th century to early American country. The original part of the inn survives along with its knotty pine paneling and great stone fireplace

Vance Booher purchased the inn in 1940 when only one of the original 40 upstairs rooms had running water. Private baths were added by knocking out walls and reducing the number of original rooms to 26.

Vance III took over in 1983 along with his wife Vicki. He has been recognized as an Advanced Certified Wine Professional by the Culinary Institute of America, one of only 16 such individuals in America and the first to be so recognized on the East Coast. Their sons were making it a fourth generation enterprise.

The Mountain View and its original 1925 outdoor pool (removed in 1973) served as a retreat for the wealthy of Pittsburgh until WWII, when it also  served as the social headquarters for Army Air Corps cadets training at the nearby airport in Latrobe, now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (which lays atop the Lincoln Highway).

The website is still operational, with upcoming events listed. Let’s hope financing comes through to keep it going. It’s also a good reminder to patronize locally owned businesses when you can.

Lincoln Highway roadhouse in family photos

January 9, 2009

In November I reported that Sylverta Blaugher had written about visiting her family at the Cove Mountain Tea Room on the Lincoln Highway east of McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania. She sent more than a dozen wonderful family photos. Here are a few to get you dreaming of roadhouses a half-century ago.

Sylverta says, “The earliest photo is 1946 when my Great Uncle Harry and Great Aunt Pearl Forrester bought the Tea Room. They renamed it Forrester’s Place. After they died, cousins from Ohio bought the property to use as a hunting lodge when they came in to go deer hunting.”

butko_uncle-harryUncle Harry, Brownie the dog, cousin Joan Hocker, and Sylverta’s mom Irene Beltz.

butko_bob-hockerOn the rooftop lookout: Irene with Brownie, cousin Bob Hocker, Irene’s classmate Bob Heller, unknown.

butko_sylvertaSylverta on a cinder pile, with the roadhouse in the background, October 1955.

butko_60s-ireneIrene, 1971.

butko_house007bA composite photo of the house in the 1970s. Vandals began destroying the property and the house was demolished. New owners built an A frame further back on the property. Here’s the site today:


Roadhouse-turned-restaurant closes in W PA

November 20, 2007

Chesterfields Restaurant, a popular dining choice in North Huntingdon Twp., Pennsylvania, closed recently to make way for a Walgreens drug store and a Starbucks. The Lincoln Highway landmark just west of Irwin (now across from Norwin Shopping Center) opened as the El Dorado in 1934, then for years was the Ben Gross Supper Club, famed for its dinner theater. It had been Chesterfields since 1986, and was one of the last of the region’s legendary dinner spots. According to The Daily News [McKeesport, Oct. 23], with the current owner’s husband passed on and their two sons not interested in a labor-intensive business, they sold to Walnut Capital brokerage firm for $1.5 million. The restaurant was host to many local banquets, celebrations, and Rotary meetings, and until recently had 87 employees. Also likely to be demolished is the adjacent Kirk Haight Auto Sales, best known in years past for having a car atop a pole. See a short video of Chesterfields final day at WPXI.

PA_El Dorado
1934: Signs advertised spaghetti, steak, chicken, beer, and dancing to an orchestra.

2007: You can still see the roadhouse and to its left, a one-story building with gable windows.

According to a Tribune-Review article, the 3.6 acre plan needed a variance or it would not have been allowed under the shopping center code, so 58 parking spaces will serve where 87 would otherwise be required for that size development. Also, the township asked for an electronic community bulletin board along the Lincoln Highway across from the intersection with Lincoln Way (a road deceptively named in the 1920s to divert LH traffic through the Mon Valley). An Eckerd Pharmacy already sits across the road at that intersection.

According to Walnut Capital’s site, the developer also bought and is demolishing the 1964 Colonial Revival headquarters of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County on the Lincoln Highway to the east in Hempfield (west of Greensburg) for a Walgreens and other retail. (That 16.1 acre site went for $6 million.) In a nod to the road, it will be known as Lincoln Place. Click here for images of that development.