Hotel Online  Special Report

Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Summit Inn
Placed on National Register of Historic Places


May 17, 2005, Farmington, PA – The Summit Inn Resort, formerly the Summit Hotel, opens this season as a designated historic building on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places.  The hotel, located along the National Road, is situated in the beautiful Laurel Highlands and is just 45 miles south of Pittsburgh. 

The Summit Inn, a favorite getaway for many vacationers, proudly holds a three diamond rating from AAA.  The well-maintained hotel sits on 1000 contiguous pristine acres atop the Chestnut Ridge. It is popular among guests for sweeping picturesque views, quaint accommodations, fine cuisine, golf and swimming.  The hotel is one of the last remaining grand porch hotels of its era. 

According to the official documentation for the National Register, the Summit Inn is a distinctive important example of twentieth century Mission and Craftsman-influenced architecture built as a stop for travelers along historic US Route 40. 

Clinton Piper, who researched and submitted the material for review by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, “It (the Summit Inn) stands as perhaps the only sizable rural hotel that exhibits elements of a particular style.  The building’s dramatic rambling roofline with twin towers, its central block with a parapet gable, expansive porches, and prominent setting make it one of the region’s most notable hotels of its era.”

The Summit Hotel Company, comprised of a group of local business men, opened the hotel in 1907.  The owners acclaimed it as “unequaled anywhere on the National Pike between Washington City and St. Louis.”  The hotel and its ideal location (an easy drive from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., and Cleveland, Ohio) made it a centerpiece for tourism in Fayette County and the surrounding area.  Years later, the hotel would be joined by other popular area attractions such as Fallingwater, Laurel Caverns, and Kentuck Knob.  Vacationers would also later enjoy outdoor sports, especially white water rafting at nearby Ohiopyle State Park. 

The ownership changed hands through the years and in 1964 Maxwell Abbell sold the hotel to Eunice and Donald Shoemaker.  Since then, the hotel has been owned and operated by the Shoemaker family. 

The Shoemakers’ daughter Karen Harris is the current owner of the Summit Inn.  Karen, who grew up at the Summit Inn, continues the tradition of the Shoemaker family of offering friendly service while preserving the atmosphere of the past.

“This is an exciting time for my mother and our family,” comments Harris.  “The Summit Inn offers an experience that many travelers seek today, but cannot find.  Our guests, many who return year after year, enjoy our accommodations reminiscent of the past, the panoramic views of the picturesque Chestnut Ridge, our friendly service, and the convenience of nearby attractions such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and his Kentuck Knob.”

“Our Mission-style architecture and our lobby displaying an original collection of Stickley furnishings set the proper mood for guests visiting to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright houses,” adds Harris.

The Summit Inn has hosted a number of VIP guests including US Presidents Warren Harding and Harry Truman, J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.  All of these visits are documented and on display with the original hotel guest register in the foyer of the hotel. “Pete Dye’s father even golfed here on our course,” adds Harris.

The Inn joins a number of other historic landmarks in Fayette County including Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, Searights Toll House, the Issac Meason House, and the Oak Hill Estate now known as Mount St. Macrina.

The history of the Summit really begins in 1806 when Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson, suggested a National Road " to connect the East with the West". Albert Gallatin lived only about twenty miles from the present day Summit and may have been prompted by his own need for travel convenience.

Construction on the National Road was begun in 1813 and was made public in 1818. It remained the internal improvement made by the Federal Government until the Civil War and was the principal highway West until somewhat replaced by the railroad in 1852.

The road was justly renowned for the great number and excellence of its inns, or taverns. On the mountain division every mile had its own tavern. Here one could be seen perched on an elevated site near the road side, and there another sheltered behind a clump of trees, many of them with inviting seats for idlers, and all with cheerful fronts toward the weary traveler.

Atop the Summit Mountain of Chestnut Ridge on the National Road was one of the above described taverns. It was known as the Fayette Springs Hotel and sat opposite the road from the existing Summit Inn. Both the National Road and the Fayette Springs Hotel fell into disrepair during the second half of the last century. However, about 1900, the State of Pennsylvania took over the road and the improvements made the idea of a hotel once more inviting.

It was with this in mind that some of Uniontown's wealthiest men got together and formed the Summit Hotel Company. Their goal was to build a mountain resort of "exceptional quality and durability". They succeeded with the Summit Hotel.

The Summit Hotel was first opened to the public in 1907. Due to its excellent facilities, location and beautiful view, the resort was an immediate success and has enjoyed continuous popularity ever since a colorful German named Leo Heyn purchased the complex about 1930 and made it nationally famous.

The original hotel register, proudly displayed in the lobby, dates back to 1917 when Henry Ford and Thomas Edison brought the American Science Wizards here to race down the mountain. The German influence of Leo Heyn can still be seen in the Bavarian front entrance and our Baron Munchausen Room, a hoffbrau style pub.

Mr. Heyn served as General Manager in 1918, when the Inn displayed advertising boasting of home-grown vegetables and chickens raised on the property, and the elite table water, from the celebrated "Summit Spa", used by General George Washington and his army. Taxi service for $.50 a person was available for those wanting to venture into the city of Uniontown to shop, and a "spacious, clean garage" was available for those wishing to house their vehicles.

The present proprietors, the Shoemaker family, have made numerous major improvements to the Inn since they purchased it in 1963. Since that time more sleeping rooms have been added as well as an indoor swimming pool, and hot tub, all included at no additional charge to the guests. A video game room, billiards area, shuffleboard and volleyball keep guests occupied as well as a 9-hole golf course that continues to make "hackers" happy.

While preserving tradition, all rooms have modern conveniences including private bath, individually controlled heat and air conditioning, Internet phone portals and cable television. Service and friendliness are foremost for our guests and our staff is well-versed in the tradition of the great hotels. 

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.  Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources.  Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.  The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Built in 1907, the historic Summit Inn, a AAA rated three diamond property, offers guests a touch of historic class blending with modern convenience. The Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features over 90 quaint guest accommodations with private baths; nine holes of golf; indoor and outdoor swimming; fine dining; and panoramic views from the Great Porch. For banquets, reunions, or other special events, The Summit Inn features magnificent ballrooms that accommodate up to parties of 500, and provides the ideal setting for destination wedding receptions. Situated in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania, the Inn is approximately 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater, Ohiopyle, and the Christian W. Klay Winery are just minutes from the Inn. 

Summit Inn
1-(800) 433-8594
Also See: A Mainstay of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Tourism Since 1973, the Historic Strasburg Inn, Gets New Owners and a $1.1 million Makeover / August 2004
Interstate Hotels & Resorts Signs Agreement to Manage the Historic Yorktowne Hotel in York, Pennsylvania / November 2004

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.