If you know me, you know that I love history. I have a lot of really interesting antiques, postcards, and photographs that I have collected over the years. What good is a collection, however, if you can’t share it? This is why I have decided to do a weekly Throwback Thursday (#TBT) history post. I hope you love reading these posts as much as I enjoy creating them!
This week we are taking a look at what was once Mountain View Inn in Greensburg, PA.
Every so often there are those historic losses that really break your heart. Especially when their destruction is needless and the underlying reason has to do with money. One of those losses was when the former Mountain View Inn was torn down.
The inn was originally built on a 105-acre farm and boasted 20 guest rooms and a gas station. During the Great Depression, the original owners struggled and the inn eventually went bankrupt and was taken over by First National Bank in Greensburg. In 1940, Vance Booher, Sr. and his brother, Ned, purchased the inn and took over its operation. Later, Vance’s son, also named Vance, and his wife Vicki Booher too over the inn’s operation.
The inn was situated facing old Route 30, which was an unpaved two-lane road when the inn was built. After current Route 30 was constructed the inn straddled both roads, although the doors faced old Route 30 until the day it closed.
The first of two new wings, the Mt. Laurel Wing, was built in the 1980s. The inn also featured an above-ground Olympic-sized swimming pool. It was a popular swimming spot until the 1960s when blasting for the new Route 30 cracked the pool and it was removed. An in-ground pool was added later, however it wasn’t as large.
In 1998 the Boohers added the Loyalhanna wing to the hotel as well as a terrace off the main dining room. The inn offered entertainment such as The Vogues and Johnny Angel and the Halos. In addition, they hosted events such as antiques, toy, and dollhouse shows. Speaking of antiques and collections, the inn had a unique collection of period antiques (I remember their typewriter collection fondly) as well as the largest collection of single-malt scotch in Pennsylvania and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar.
Quite a few famous guests also graced the halls of Mt. View Inn, including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan; entertainers such as Harrison Ford, Guy Lombardo, and Bernadette Peters; as well as Arnold Palmer, The Rolling Stones, Tony Bennet, Three Dog Night, and even the Dalai Lama.
Then the recession hit.
In 2009, First Commonwealth Bank refused to renew a revolving line of credit the owners needed to get them through the industry’s four slowest months. Without the funds they needed, the inn was forced to close and the bank foreclosed.
Sadly, after several interested buyers failed to work out a group of investors (Jada View, LLC) bought the hotel in August 2009 and after being stripped of all of its architectural elements and having its antiques auctioned off, the older part of the inn was demolished in December 2009 — less than a year after closing.
Although the developers site the inn being in poor condition for the reason that they closed it, the true reason was most likely that they felt that they could get more money for the property by razing the former Historic Hotel of America and putting in some sort of commercial monstrosity.
The original plan for the property was to build a strip shopping center on the property. The Unity Township officials denied that plan. The developers then proposed a gas station, which after several different proposals, was also denied. (I applaud you supervisors!) Supervisors also banned gas stations and fast food restaurants on that, and other intersections in the township.
The last hotel wing to be added still exists as the Inn at Mountain View. However, the new owners had to build a new lobby and no longer have a dining room or swimming pool since those were torn down with the old inn. I had a chance to speak to the Inn at Mountain View owners back in 2010 in which they told me that they had attempted to buy the older part of the inn too, but the developers would not sell it to them.
Here are a few pictures I took of the main dining room as well as the sunroom dining room back in about 2007. I just wish I had taken more at the time.