The story of a forgotten America.

Penn-Lincoln Hotel

The Penn-Lincoln Hotel is a former hotel along Penn Avenue in downtown Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Abandoned in 1995, the derelict tower was demolished in 2014.

After the results of a survey were released, 9 125 business leaders of Wilkinsburg met at Dudley’s tea room in the Shield Building on September 24, 1925, and unanimously agreed to build a $650,000 hotel for travelers along the Lincoln Highway and the Pennsylvania Railroad. 4 A 21-person committee was appointed to start on plans for the new 150-room hotel, tentatively called the Lincoln-Penn. 10 The Wilkinsburg Hotel Company was formed 3 and 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, was hired to design the building. 1

The proposed hotel site, at Penn Avenue and Center Street, included a frame house and several stores. 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.

The new six-story, 70,000 square-foot Penn-Lincoln Hotel was completed at the cost of $850,000 and was dedicated after a four-day ceremony on June 2, 1927. 8 The facility included 120 guest rooms decorated by Causey & Heitchue, a ballroom, a dining room, and a coffee shop. 3 8

The Penn-Lincoln was later converted into 65 apartments and offices. 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 neglected Penn-Lincoln 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 & Landmarks Foundation in an attempt to renovate the building. 5 The Foundation loaned $135,000 to Deliverance for some repairs but the work was never completed. 7

Studies conducted in 2010 under a $75,000 contract with the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development assessed the market feasibility of restoration of the hotel. 4 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 cost of demolishing the Penn-Lincoln. 1 The state had previously approved $88,215 towards the project. In May 2014, the decision was made to demolish the Penn-Lincoln, and work to remove the hotel commenced soon after. 6



  1. Spatter, Sam. “Wilkinsburg makeover funded.” Pittsburgh Tribine-Review. N.p., 3 July 2012. TribLive. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. Article.
  2. Spatter, Sam. “Federal grant money approved for Penn Lincoln Hotel demolition in Wilkinsburg.” Pittsburgh Tribine-Review. N.p., 18 Oct 2013. TribLive. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. Article.
  3. Wilkinsburg Historical Society. “Avenues of Commerce.” Wilkinsburg. Charleston: Arcadia, 2007. 64. Print.
  4. Olson, Thomas. “Old Wilkinsburg hotel could get new life as office, retail space.” Pittsburgh Tribine-Review. N.p., 15 Feb 2010. TribLive. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. Article.
  5. Barnes, Jonathan. “Study says Penn Lincoln Hotel could take $10 million to fix.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. N.p., 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. Article.
  6. Schooley, Tim. “Penn Lincoln hotel in Wilkinsburg soon to be demolished.” Pittsburgh Business Times. N.p., 5 May 2014. Web. 2 Jul. 2014. Article.
  7. “A Note on the Fate of the Former Penn-Lincoln Hotel Building.” Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. N.p., 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 2 Jul. 2014. Article.
  8. “Wilkinsburg’s New Penn-Lincoln Hotel Opens.” Pittsburgh Gazette Times 2 Jun. 1927: 5. Print.
  9. “Wilkinsburg Hotel Project Indorsed.” Pittsburgh Daily Post 25 Sept. 1925: 2. Print.
  10. “Real Estate.” Pittsburgh Press 12 Jan. 1926: 7. Print.
  11. “Wilkinsburg Hotel Contract Awarded.” Pittsburgh Press 4 May 1926: 35. Print.
  12. Haynes, Monica L. and Torsten Ove. “Tax scofflaws face new pressure.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 27 Feb. 1997: East 2. Print.
  13. Place, M.J. “Mayor seeks place in history for Penn Lincoln Hotel.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 9 Jun. 1999: East 7. Print.


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My grandparents lived there and were stockholders in the hotel. My mother lived in Wilkinsburg until she got married; I was born at Columbia Hospital so my birth certificate says Wilkinsburg. Hotel paid one dividend which was used to buy a kitchen table set which I still use. My family used to sometimes go to Sunday dinner at the Penn-Lincoln; the snazziest ultra-modern thing it had was the electric hand-drier in the bathroom. Sorry to see it go but boy is it wretched.

Lived in Wilkinsburg from birth to almost age 23, save for two years spent in other parts of PA and one year in AZ. The Penn Lincoln was one of the borough’s most notable landmarks, along with the PRR railroad station. Shame it couldn’t have been preserved, perhaps as senior citizen housing. The lower level housed a barber shop where I got many a haircut from a barber named Bill Green. My grandfather, Roland Barnes, had painted a large painting of the Pittsburgh area [as seen from the top of the hill on Rt. 22?]; I understand that the painting has been preserved.

It would have been nice if your were able to get some pictures of the Ball Room, were they had a Rhythm & Blues concert there in the late 50’s.

I grew up in Wilkinsburg in the late 40’s to the early 60’s.
This was a beautiful city which had three or four movie theaters, bowling ally, Isley’s, clothing and shoe stores, Penn Wood Grill at Penn Ave. and Wood St. Many, many churches.
High School had over 2500 students. This was an all white city back then. What killed this city was not high taxes but, the blacks ( people of color ) that moved there from Brushton. Now it’s 99% black (people of color ) with crime, drugs and a lot of blacks on welfare. It’s a shame to see the once great city go to the dumps. If they want to save this city they need to tear it down and rebuild from new.

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