The Penn-Lincoln Hotel was a hotel along Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Abandoned in 1995, the building was demolished in 2014.


History

On September 24, 1925, 125 business leaders of Wilkinsburg met at Dudley’s tea room in the Shield Building and unanimously voted to build a $650,000 hotel for travelers along the Lincoln Highway and the Pennsylvania Railroad 4 after the results of a favorable survey was released.9 A committee of 21 was appointed to start on plans for the new hotel, tenatively called the Lincoln-Penn,10 with at least 150 rooms and stores on the ground level. The committee formed the Wilkinsburg Hotel Company 3 and hired architect Benno Janssen of Janssen & Cocken,4 8 who was also the architect for the William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh Athletic Club and the former Kaufmann’s Department Store in downtown Pittsburgh, to design the building.1

Properties at the proposed hotel site, a 122-feet by 128-feet lot 11 at Penn Avenue and Center Street, included a frame house and several storefronts.10 The lots were acquired for $80,000.11

A contract for construction was awarded to E.Z. Peffer on May 3, 1926, with a targeted completion date of March 1, 1927.11

The new Penn-Lincoln Hotel was completed at a cost of $850,000 and dedicated to the public after a four-day ceremony on June 2, 1927.8 The new six-story, 70,000 square feet facility included 120 guest rooms decorated by Causey & Heitchue, and a ballroom, dining room, and coffee shop.3 8 Dedication ceremonies included a flag-raising ceremony for the 800 stockholders who vested interest in the construction of the hotel, private dinners, and several sponsored events.8

Later Years

The Penn-Lincoln was later converted into 65 apartments, offices, and first-level retail space.5 In 1993, the building’s last tenant, a beauty shop that had been operated by Anna Nowak since 1944, closed.13 The building was owned by Joseph and Nathan Nassif who owed more than $200,000 in back taxes by 1997.12

The abandoned property was purchased by Penn Hills businessman Mario Noce for $70,000 in 2005 who completed some basic repairs to the roof and interior. The former hotel was then acquired by Deliverance Inc., a local faith-based organization,4 who partnered with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in an attempt to renovate the building.5 TheFoundation loaned $135,000 to Deliverance for some repairs but the work was never completed due to the total cost of the renovation project.7

Studies were conducted in 2010 under a $75,000 contract with the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development to assess market feasibility and estimate restoration costs of the hotel.4 The architectural engineering and environmental study firms involved were Moss Architects, Collective Efforts, Santangelo & Lindsay Inc., KES Engineers, Allen & Shariff, Conway Engineers and Flynn Construction, and the marketing and financial studies were conducted by Mullin and Lonergan Associates, and Barone Murtha Shonberg & White. The studies concluded that there was little market interest in the Penn-Lincoln due to the deteriorated condition of the building and the estimated $10 million 5 in renovation costs.1

On July 3, 2012, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Financing Authority approved $500,000 in Federal Community Development Block Grant funds towards the $580,715 costs of demolishing the hotel and an adjacent parking deck.1 The state had previously approved of $88,215 towards the project. The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County board granted use of the grant funds on October 18.2 The city of Wilkinsburg approved to sell the adjoining parking deck and lot for $2 to the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

In May 2014, the decision was made to demolish the Penn-Lincoln Hotel due to the lack of market interest in rehabilitating the building and its deterioration.6

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