101 West Main Street
Vannear Hotel (101 West Main Street)
Built in 1895
The Glade House (aka Hill House or Hill's Hotel)
William Picking bought the Walker & Ankeny Hotel, remodeled it, and called it the Glade House. It was the finest hostelry in town, having its own stables (on South Center Ave, then called Turkeyfoot St), and its own ice house. The Glade House burned down in the 1872 fire and then Picking sold the lot in Feb 1874. The Glade House was rebuilt by Josiah Brant, Esq and cost about $30,000, and was second in hotel size only to the Somerset House. It contained fifty handsomely furnished rooms. From 1874 until at least 1878, it was known as Hill’s Hotel or the Hill House, and was run by John Hill. It eventually returned to the name Glade House. Doctors and dentists from out of town would set up a temporary office to see patients. Mr. William J Higinbotham purchased the building in April 1884 and ran the hotel. In May of 1887, arrangements were completed for a wholesale liquor store in the basement under John Topper’s distillers’ license. Then in April 1888. Mr. Brant leased the property to ex-Sheriff John Winters. The Glade House burned May of 1888, allegedly as a result of a burglar’s revenge. Sheriff John Winters had put the burglar behind bars for a 10 year sentence the decade before. Mr. Higinbotham had insurance to cover about half of the damages. The lot stood vacant for awhile after the Glade House burned down. A small one story frame building was erected on the corner and used for Noah Casebeer’s tin shop, and later used by George Auman for a meat market. In 1895, Charles Vannear erected the present magnificent pressed brick building.
Second Empire architectural style. A large brick structure, erected in 1895 as a four story hotel with about 70 rooms and apartments. The Somerset Herald described that the main and private dining rooms were separated by a pair of sliding doors, with the two sheets of glass being the largest of their kind ever made in the United States, possibly the world. The fourth floor featured a mansard roof and a projecting center tower with arched recessed openings, but it was removed after fire damage in 1931, and the building remains three stories to this day. The original rounded projecting bay on the second and third floors was also removed after the fire.
List of Businesses
Vannear Hotel (1895 – 1920s)
Numerous retail shops and restaurants (1920s – present); Upstairs apartments (1920s – 1956)
Newberry’s Department Store (1932 – 1951)
Sun Drug (1952 – 1977)
Health Mart (1978 – 1993)
Glades Court Mall (retail stores, restaurants, and office space) (1996 – present)
Mr. Charles Vannear, former proprietor of the Park Hotel, surprised the town of Somerset with elaborate plans for a new, grand hotel building, which he built in 1895. On January 3, 1900, the Somerset Herald printed “…When the walls of the massive building were erected, doubting Thomases predicted that the enterprise would soon prove a disastrous failure and spoke prophetically of “Vannear’s folly.” Mr. Vannear and certain gentlemen who had confidence in his ability to accomplish what to croakers seemed an insurmountable object quietly persevered and today there is not a citizen of the town or county who does not point with pride to the Hotel Vannear and speak in glowing terms of the builder’s courage and achievement.”
Since the borough water works had been completed shortly before construction, many bathrooms were installed throughout the building. But since the town did not have a sewage system yet, Mr. Vannear constructed a private sewage line running south on Ankeny Ave. The hotel became the social center of town for card parties, banquets, dances, and conferences. Mr. Vannear personally ran the hotel for three years, with a reputation as the best county seat hotel in Western Pennsylvania. Then his wife became ill and about 1899 he leased the property to Jacob B. Winters and William H. Kantner, who jointly conducted it for a few months. Mr. Kantner chose to hand over the business to Mr. Winters, who continued to maintain the excellent reputation of the house and also make many popular improvements.
The last week of 1899, the Hotel Vannear property was sold by the Vannears to Jacob Winters for $34,000. It was considered the largest real estate transaction in the recent history of Somerset. The Winters family continued to own the building for many years. Jacob and Nora Winters divorced in 1912, and that year ownership briefly transferred to Nora’s sister Bertha Stein, and then back to Nora. But during that time, Ferdinand Snyder and then Harry Spitznogle leased the building. By the 1920s, the hotel’s dining room and lobby had been converted to retail space. Nora Winters Mitchell sold it in 1925 to David Goodstein and Morris Cohen. The hotel sold again in January 1926, for $90,000 to Johnstown merchant Achilles Alexas.
At the time of a fire of July 1931, the building was used for apartments, store rooms, Nick George’s restaurant, S.D. Bratton’s barber shop, Jake Winters’ pool room, Patsy Cellis’ shoe repair, and offices of the Somerset Bus Company. Three other rooms were vacant at the time of the fire, but formerly occupied by the Hostetler Cleaning Co, the Kuhn Koffee House, and Foister’s Dry Cleaning. There was an annex not affected by the fire, which included the Philadelphia Underselling Store and the Great Atlantic & Pacific Market.
In mid 1932, J.J. Newberry first opened his small store in the Vannear building. The first floor was shared with the Franklin Restaurant, which closed in April 1937 when Newberry’s took over the entire first floor. But the upper floors were occupied by other businesses. In May 1945, Tony’s Shoe Shop took over the former Crimone Shoe Repair Shop. In Feb 1948, disabled WWII vet Donald E Beggs opened Beggs’ Jewelery Store after attending W.P.H.L. school for watchmakers in Pittsburgh for two years.
In November 1951, Newberry moved to the new Alexas Building adjacent to the Vannear and cleared the way for Sun Drug to open in half of the first floor in February 1952. Milady’s Shoppe and the Scamper House had been in an apartment on the second floor of the Vannear Building from Spring 1950 until March 1952 when they secured the other half of the ground floor.
All of the upstairs renters were asked to vacate in September of 1956. An October 1957 news article explained that the enlargement of the Newberry store next door meant that the second and third floors of the Vannear building were taken over for storage rooms, which did not add to the attractiveness of that corner of the Diamond, but new Venetian blinds over the windows remedied the problem.
Sun Drug moved out in the spring of 1977. Then Health Mart leased the building (from Earnest A and Velle Alexes) from New Year’s Day 1978 until they closed in 1993.
The Vannear Shoppes started in 1995 as part of the Main Street program. Barbara and Bob Vanyo purchased the building for $80,000 in 1996, with plans to move their headquarters to the building. It became the Glade Court Mall, featuring various merchants and dining on the ground floor, and office space, financial services, and an ENT doctor’s office on the upper floors. Some of the longer lasting businesses have been Young Heart Books and the Déjà Vu consignment shop. In 2006, the Vanyos sold to Jack Kesich of Pittsburgh, with plans of Kesich’s son-in-law Scott Glover to manage it and daughter Kathy Glover to open a restaurant. More recently, Crazy Alice’s Café, Garlesky’s Gift Gallery, Uptown Painting, and Dos Amigos Mexican restaurant have occupied the space. Currently it’s home to Jar The Zero Waste Store.
Somerset Herald: 06 May 1874, 18 Aug 1875, 01 May 1878, 29 May 1878, 24 July 1878, 21 Aug 1878, 10 Sep 1884, 25 May 1887, 09 May 1888, 19 Apr 1893, 09 Nov 1898, 03 Jan 1900, 04 Apr 1900
The Republic (Meyersdale): 14 Jan 1926
Boswell News: 06 Aug 1964
Daily American: 20 Jul 1931, 12 Apr 1937, 11 Jun 1943, 12 May 1945, 07 Feb 1948, 26 Apr 1950, 08 Feb 1952, 14 Mar 1952, 04 Sep 1956, 15 Oct 1957, 18 Mar 1977, 15 Oct 1977, 07 Jan 1993, 24 Feb 1995, 29 Jun 1995, 20 Jun 1996, 07 Aug 1997, 08 Mar 2002, 13 Oct 2006
Walter Bowen Photo Collection
Somerset County Historic Resource Survey