by Carol Whelan
The history of South Broadway Manor is steeped in memories of those that lived, worked, played and entertained within those walls. Built in 1904 by J.P. Brennan, coke and coal industrialist, for his growing family, and restored by its current, and only the 2nd owner on record, Patricia Hill, is so much more than a beautiful mansion, it is a testament to the way life in our region once was.
For 28 years Pat worked on her mansion, paying fastidious attention to every detail. Behind the main house is one of the last remaining Carriage Houses in the state of Pennsylvania and remains untouched in its original condition. Relics containing the coachman’s uniform, old letters, business documents and a “character” book written by young Teresa Brennan remain intact. “The Character Book” is what one might consider the Facebook of their time!
While in the process of restoring the property very rare pre-prohibition Old Farm Rye Whiskey distilled in 1912 were discovered hidden behind basement walls in their original cases unopened. Unfortunately and unbelievably, the one time live in caretaker Ms. Hill had on staff helped himself to more than half of the original bottles, indulging his lust for old rye in consuming more than $100,000.00 in this liquid gold! He was charged with drinking 52 bottles of the vintage whiskey.
The main floor includes a parlor, living room and dining room. Guests will see everything from original lead-crystal glass in the door to crystal chandeliers. One of the bedrooms, the “Copper Room,” is also on the main floor, it features embossed copper ceilings.
Upstairs: the Victorian Room hosts a bath featuring an elongated claw-foot tub with chrome and mother-of-pearl fixtures; the Federal Room, a three-room master suite; and the Crystal Rose Room, which is named after the original crystal chandelier and crystal bath fixtures.
Pat has decorated the mansion in an “Early American” style, and features arms and armor used prior to and during the time of its occupants. The Federal Room features a display of fully dressed mannequins in Union blue Civil War and Indian War patterned uniforms circa 1902 worthy of any museum. You will see a “Fire and Blood” flag, motto of the Salvation Army, a 58-caliber Springfield cap and ball rifle model circa 1860 as well as canteens, bugle and other memorabilia all dating back to the late 1800’s.
She has uniforms that range from 1903 Civil War to British officers up to and including West Point Cadets, and iron cross decorated full dress British uniforms including capes, cloaks, suspender pants, boots, and medals. She also has a rare collection featuring Sergeant dress uniforms, 1903 Army dress uniform, West Point, Corporal, and even private officers uniforms. In the British military uniform there was discovered a note written on the Titanic White Star Line notepaper in the pocket. The officer obviously walked off the ship before its maiden voyage in 1914! Hat and helmets are of British Royal Guard, Legionnaire, Moroccan, WWI Ger-man officers, and WWII army … and even a bellboy’s Gurkha.
You will see an array of antique Colt and Remington “cap and ball” guns and rifles, ammunition, swords, muskets and pistols, even sheriff badges. View the infamous “Peacemaker” original Colt 45 displayed along with Smith & Wesson pistols and Remington revolvers, as well as a Kentucky Long Rifle used in Civil War time among others!
The Sword collection ranges from around the world including premier French inlaid swords to Japanese Samurai swords and including Wilkinson and “Dress Sabers” used by decorated officers.
The artifacts that currently fill the mansion are amazing, but South Broadway Manor Inn is of a bygone era, the elegance of what life was during a time we are personally all unfamiliar with, but have read and imagined. It is tastefully appointed with great attention to detail.
The restoration process was pain-staking and detailed with the help of many local artisans and craftsmen. From cleaning 100 years of coal soot from brick and mortar, replacing the slate roof, repair and replacing of the stained and leaded glass, and replacement of fixtures to the final touches of master painters and decor, this mansion has been restored as closely to original as possible while maintaining its architectural integrity and yet up-dating it to today’s safety standards and expected quality of life.
The woodwork alone is breathtaking including tiger oak and mahogany, pocket doors, spacious rooms, working fireplaces throughout, and beautiful grounds This is a property that is impossible to grasp in one visit, for its beauty should be savored and appreciated like the labor of love it took to restore her.
South Broadway Manor is perfect as a Bed and Breakfast, but the aura embraces you, and will have your imagination spinning. Picture weddings, anniversaries, showers, birthdays, retirement parties, etc. being celebrated on the back grounds, with guests being invited to stay in the beautifully restored rooms.
Stained glass and leaded windows throughout, chandeliers to take your breath away, every detail of this home is to be admired. Someone told Pat Hill that she must be Ella Brennan, the original First Lady of South Broadway, incarnated. For the mansion has been restored so closely to its original state that only Ella herself could have chosen the same window treatments, flooring and other such details.
The Fricks, Carnegies, Senators and others have all walked these halls, sat on the porches, and shared stories, I can only imagine what secrets and tales those walls must hold!
Own A Piece of History
If you are in the market for a Bed and Breakfast, you are a true lover of architectural perfection, a chef wanting to invest in an amazing venue, or simply a lover of history then this just may be that dream you’ve been searching for.
All qualified and fortunate buyers can make an appointment through their realtor or the listing broker Mike Vernon. (See page 38-39 for contact information and other listings)
In addition to being the proud mother of three amazing children, Carol Whelan is also a corporate and non-profit event coordinator (relaxedevents.net), and the proprietor of Fairy Godmothers 3, a vacation home concierge service (724-532-0436). Carol resides with her soul mate, Brian, her favorite four-legged child, Gizmo (all the two legged ones have moved out), and two spoiled cats in Latrobe. Email Carol at: firstname.lastname@example.org