(Continued From Yesterday)
PHILADELPHIA AND KENTUCKY INN
Another famous hotel of old Washington town during the pike era, this
hostelry, like the Auld House, was known by several names—Sign of General Washington,
Philadelphia and Kentucky Inn, American House, Huey’s House, Fulton House and
finally, Hotel Main. During the long history of more than a hundred years of
hotels on this site, now occupied by the Washington Trust Building, two of
the most disastrous fires in Washington’s history occurred.
The first record of a tavern at this location was in 1790, when John
Purviance opened, a house of public entertainment. He had purchased the lot
in 1787, and evidently erected the building he occupied three years later. The
name of this stand prior to 1815 are not known, in 1807 Purviance bought
the land where he laid out a town, 10 years later and named it Claysville. When
he left Washington, he turned this tavern over to Richard Donaldson, who
was succeeded in 1815 by Mrs. McCammant, who was to operate the hotel on several
locations during the next 15 or 20 years, took charge. In The Recorder in
April 1815, Mrs. McCammant advertised that she had opened a public house at
“The Sign of General Washington,” the first name I found for this tavern stand.
Five years later John Flemming, who recently arrived from Bedford,
announced in The Reporter of April 10, 1820, that “He has taken the noted tavern
stand in the town of Washington, Pennsylvania, lately occupied by Mrs. McCammant,
on the south-east corner of the public square.”
Mrs. McCammant went to “The Sign of the Crossed Keys.” Fleming immediately
changed the name to “The Philadelphia and Kentucky Inn.” Less than a year later
tragedy struck the new proprietor. The marriage of a daughter during the evening
of January 26, 1821, was followed by a disastrous fire later that night, and a
younger daughter was burned to death.
In the account taken from The Reporter files, it states that the fire
broke out at 1 o’clock in the morning, in the room which the Fleming children
were sleeping. A candle which they had taken to the room and left burning
when they went to sleep started the conflagration, in which Mary Fleming, the
seven-year-old daughter, lost her life. The front building, probably of
frame or logs, was burned to the ground, but the rear section of brick, was saved
with slight damage to the roof, through the heroic efforts of the people. The
greater part of the furniture was saved. Seventy-eight years later the
daughter of the proprietor of that time had a narrow escape from death when
the hotel on this site was destroyed by fire. The Reporter account states
that Alexander Murdock owned the property.
John Fleming continued at “The Philadelphia and Kentucky Inn” until April
1, 1826, when Joseph Teeters succeeded him. At sometime during Fleming’s régime,
he changed the name to “The Sign of the Cross Keys,” probably after the fire,
for the Teeter’s advertisement in: The Reporter in April, 1826, he “Respectfully
informs the public, that he has removed to that large and commodious
TAVERN HOUSE, lately occupied by John Fleming, at the corner of Market (Main)
and Bow (Beau) streets, opposite the Market house, in the borough of
Washington, Sign of the Cross Keys.”
Old records do not show how long Teeters was landlord or who succeeded him.
The property passed into the hands of Dr. Samuel I. Murdock, who, in 1838,
erected the building known in later years as Hotel Main. This structure, 40 feet
front on Main street, extended back along Bean 100 feet. An addition of 40 feet
on Main street was built in the 1840’s by Dr. Templeton, owner at that time.
After the new building was erected S.B. and C. Hayes, took charge and
changed the name to the “American House.” While Messrs. Hayes were proprietors,
the “American House,” was the Washington headquarters for the Good Intent stage
line. The old stage, stable, a brick building in the rear on Beau street,
stood until the big fire of 1899. At that time J.C. (Shorty) Hoxworth occupied
it as a livery stable, and operated a bus to all trains. In 1846, John Henry
succeeded Hayes Brothers and remained until the close fo 1846.
Henry Fulton who came from Westmoreland County, took charge on January
1, 1847. He changed the name to the Fulton House by which it was known during the
nest 40 years, and during the 10 years of his management, this became one of the
leading hotels of the town.
John Hall succeeded Fulton in 1857; and in 1859 turned the management
over to Thomas M. Hall, who was proprietor during the stormy period of the
Civil War. At the close of 1865, David Bell came from Claysville and three years
later, in 1868, turned the management over to John H. Little, Moses Little, and
Samuel Melvin. The Littles have previously been mentioned as wagoners on the
National Pike. They were succeeded in 1878 by Gibson, and Blayney, but in
a short time Thomas M. Hall returned as proprietors, followed in 1887 by George
Two years later Charles Bailey, who, with Samuel McKennan had
conducted the old Valentine House during the early oil excitement, took
charge. Bailey added a fourth story. Increased the frontage on Main street by
20 feet, built a two story addition on Beau street, and changed the name to “Hotel
Main.” In order to reach the upper stories he installed the first passenger
elevator in Washington. His chief clerk was James L. Burson, who died about a year
ago on his farm near the hotel and about 1894 Bailey turned the management over
McDivitt and Davis operated the hotel for a short time and on April 1,
1897, Daniel H. Goodwin took charge. He was the proprietor when the building was
completely destroyed in the big fire in the early morning on January 1899.
This was on of the most disastrous fires in the history of Washington up
to that time. Mr. Goodwin’s daughter, Goldie, was cut off by the flames, and made
her escape by a rope lowered from an upper story window. The Washington Trust
Building was erected on this site two years later.
This was another famous hotel in old Washington in the days of the
National Pike. It stood at the southeastern corner of Main and East Chestnut
streets on the side of the present Connors building. Before the “Mansion
House” was built, a man named Scott kept a tavern here called, “The
Eagle Inn,” in an old red frame building. The date of its erection is not
known, but in 1797, it was called “The Spread Eagle.”
John N. Dagg,, a noted proprietor in the early annals of local hotels,
purchased the property in 1877, and took possession on April 7, about 1831 he
erected a large brick hotel, which he named “The Mansion House.” In the rear
fronting on Chestnut street, were stables and wagon sheds, and for many years
it was head-quarters of the Pilot and Good Intent stage lines on the National
and Pittsburgh Pikes.
Dagg operated the hotel until April 1, 1836, when he leased the
property to John Irons, who had conducted the Washington House (now the Auld
House) for 10 years, In 1835 Dagg returned as landlord.
The large bar room was a favorite loafing and meeting place especially
on winter nights. Cowhide boots were worn by most men in those days, especially
stage driver and Pike Boys. As Dagg did not wish the floor cluttered up with
mud and snow that dropped from the boots of his patrons and loafers he
provided a special bootjack, just inside the door. Probably no other bootjack ever
equaled this one for ease and comfort in drawing off those cowhides. It was a
large upright affair, with sidebars, that acted as levers to steady the toe
in pulling the boot off. Leather slippers were provided by “mine hose” Dagg for
the comfort of his visitors and guests, which were a welcome treat after
wearing heavy cowhides all day. The boots were all piled in a corner and the
next morning they were likely polished. There must have been some trouble
and not a few arguments among the owners when they unscrambled their footgear.
All through its years the “Mansion House” was noted for the food, and
it was here that president John Quincy Adams was entertained at dinner when he
passed through Washington on November 25, while on his way from a western tour
to Washington D.C. The Reporter of November 7, 1901, gives a full account
of this visit of a former President, taken from the files of 1842.
As soon as it was known that Adams was coming through here, John H.
Ewing and Collin M. Reed went to Pittsburgh to escort him to Washington. They
left that city in a stage coach of the Old Line, probably Stockton’s, early
in the morning, and arrived in Canonsburg between 11 and 12 o’clock. Mr.
Adams was given one of those welcomes for which Washington was famous in those
long ago years. From Canonsburg the coach came to Washington, escorted by
carriages, buggies, and horsemen. New recruits joined the procession as
it came along the road, and by the time it reached here “the procession was
numerous beyond expectation.”
His entrance to this place was announced by the ringing of bells, and he
was greeted by a multitude of people from all parts of the county. The
procession passed along a back street (now Lincoln street) to “the National
Road at the seminary, in front of which the venerable ex-president was
saluted by the waving of white handkerchiefs, the smiles and cheerful voices
of more than a hundred ladies, whose fair faces, radiant with joy were to be
seen at every door, window and balcony. Here the procession was joined by the
military of the place with flying banner and appropriate music and escorted
through a part of Maiden street up Main to the Mansion House amid the shouts
of the spectators. Notwithstanding a brisk shower and the unfavorable
conditions of the streets at the time. Mr. Adam’s reception was all that could
be desired; at least so far as spontaneous expressions of public enthusiasm was
concerned, and indeed Mr. Adams himself appeared to regard it as such.”
After a dinner at the Mansion House he was taken by the committee to the
Courthouse, where a large crowd was waiting. As soon as the doors were opened
the people surged in, and the court room was so filled to overflowing, but
a great number were compelled to wait in the street while he delivered his
address. The old account says that there were perhaps 1500 people in the
The Rev. Dr. David McConaughy, President of Washington College, delivered
the address of welcome, to which Mr. Adams responded eloquently. During the
reception, every person shook hands with the former President. Introductions
were made by Hon. Thomas M. T, McKennan, “whom the distinguished visitor referred
to in his remarks as one whom he had learned to respect and revere as one
of the great statesmen of his country.”
At 6 o’clock, he met the ladies of the seminary. The building was
brilliantly illuminated, and The Reporter states that “although its exterior
was imposing to admiration and attracted much attention from a great distance,
its interior array of beauty and splendor was irresistibly captivating.
The principal, Miss Sarah Foster, with her corps of teachers and more than a
hundred pupils were arranged in order and received the venerable and respected
visitor with becoming marks of approval and distinction.”
It was uncommon in those days for a woman to make an address in public,
but Miss Foster extended a most cordial welcome to the visitor, to which Mr.
Adams responded with much feeling. At the conclusion of his remarks he was
introduced to the ladies individually after which they all “partook
of refreshments elegantly served up for the occasion after which he was escorted
to the house of Mr. McKeenan, where, with a number of invited guests he was
also sumptuously entertained, and where Mr. Adams spent the night.” The next
morning he took the stage for Washington, D.C.
Judging from the number of dinners served to public men in those days it
is little wonder that they all suffered from gout. It would have taken more than
an iron constitution to stomach it all.
From the description of Mr. Adam’s visit found in The Reporter file it
seems doubtful if any other distinguished person ever received such a welcome
and entertainment in old Washington town, with the exception of that given to
LaFayette 18 years before. That still stands as the greatest of all time in
In 1844, Dagg leased the Mansion House to S.B. & C. Hayes, and on the
evening of February 10, 1845, President-elect James K. Polk and Mrs. Polk stopped
there while enroute to Washington City for his inauguration. The Reporter of
February 15 states that it was not known that Mr. Polk would come through
Washington until the day before, and there was little time to arrange a
reception. However, he was entertained at a dinner that night, and Dr. John
Wishart, chairman of the committee, gave the address of welcome. Mr. Polk
responded with much feeling, and then shook hands with a large number of
people who had formed a long line on Main street.
The Reporter said that only Democrats were elected for the committee,
and sharply criticized this partisanship by stating that after an election the
successful candidate was President of all the people both Democrats and Whigs.
The Presidential party was made up of Mr. and Mrs. Polk, and their young
son, Marshall Polk; J. Knox Walker, Mr. Polk’s private secretary; Colonel
Butler of Kentucky; Judge Hubbard, of Alabama, and T.K. Stevenson, J. G.
Harris and J.N. Esselman. The party left the next morning for Uniontown.
In an account of Mr. Polk’s visit, which appeared in The Reporter of
February 14, 1902, 43 years later, it is stated that the coach which he rode was
built in Washington. This could well be true, but some of the other statements
may be doubtful. According to this old story, told years later by Morgan Hayes,
William Scott, agent for the Good Intent Stage Line, placed an order with S. B.
Hayes and Company, coach and carriage manufacturers at that time, to build a
stage coach especially for President-elect Polk. Although, The Reporter of 1845
states that Polk was not expected to come this way until two days before. Of
course, the Good Intent Line might have thought, after his election, that
he would travel over the pike from Wheeling.
Morgan Hayes said that he built the body, and, following the custom of
that time of naming stage coaches, painted “General Scott” on the sides. The
account of 1902 states that the reception committee met him in a carriage, also
built at the Hayes factory, and loaned by Captain James Brice. This carriage
was driven by Martin Mosebay, a well-known colored stage driver of that time.
On December 5, 1846, an officer of the Duquesne Greys, of Pittsburgh,
came to Washington and advertised in The Reporter that he would receive enlistments
of volunteers to serve in the war with Mexico. He was located at “Hayes’ Mansion
House,” and several Washington men enlisted, one of whom was young Norton McGiffin.
The first welcome home for the Washington soldiers returned from war
was held in the Mansion House on the night of August 2, 1848. This was a public
supper, tendered to all Washington County soldiers who had served in the war.
In later years other public welcomes were held in Washington for soldiers of the
Civil War, the Spanish American War, Filipino Insurrection, and World War I; but
none for the returned soldiers of either World War II or the Korean War.
(To Be Continued)
For part 17 of The National Pike Story For part 19 of The National Pike Story