Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clean up on Aisle 2! Dunbar, PA's famous Pechin's!

 Danielle, Evan and I decided to do some shopping and the Laurel Mall flea market didn't disappoint.  D found some sweet new exploration footwear as well as some Spuds McKenzie glasses.  Evan scored a Stoney's tray and just wait 'till you see the gnarly purple carpet I'm getting for the Shaggin' Wagon!

 Anyway, while we were checking out the Star Wars toys and digging on the vintage vibe of Laurel Mall, we decided to pay homage to a local shopping mecca.  A place everyone has memories of, both good and,well.... Eating in the cafeteria was a rite of passage. Feed your family for about $5...really.  This was a place where you could buy groceries, shoes, golf clubs, a gun and beer all in one place...way before Wal-Mart!

 I'm of course speaking of the legendary Pechin's Shopping Village.  Located in Dunbar, Pa. near the Fayette County Fairgrounds, Pechin's was not just a store, it was an adventure!  Founded in 1947 as Pechin Grocery by Sullivan "Sully" D'Amico in a former train depot, the place was a staple for Moms and Grandmas in the tri-state area.  Pechins was famous for low prices and infamous for being janky as hell! But thats what made it great!   There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the location of goods in the grocery store.  I think they just dropped a pallet where there was room.  Maybe it was a brilliant way to make shoppers roll the entire wooden floor in search of what they needed, picking up items as they went? Nah, probably not.  Evan recalls "old timers" telling how you could see the creek through the holes in the floor.  The buggies look as if they were patched together from different stores and you NEVER,  I MEAN NEVER, went to Pechins on the first of the month!

 Every year, we would head to 7-Springs and stop at Pechins for beer.  The challenge was to eat $5 worth of food in the cafeteria.  Keep in mind...hamburgers were 20 cents, cheeseburgers 25 cents.  I never even came close...The food was actually pretty good. If I remember... those prices lived on until the end of the original plaza.

 Following the death of Mr. D'Amico in 2005, Pechins moved to the afore mentioned Laurel Mall. Occupying the former Montgomery Wards.  The store lives on, but with much less character.  A salvage company moved into the original site not long after and began the process of clearing out the shelves, cases and fixtures.  Then, on June 6th, 2006, a fire swept through the former shopping plaza destroying most of the buildings and nearby trucks and equipment.  We grabbed some pix of whats left, which isn't much.  Share your Pechins story...cuz we know you got one!!

Found this inside the resturaunt shot online...

The two pictures below, courtesy of Jay Miller...Just look how busy, and it was always like this.

Abandoned A. Overholt Distillery, Broad Ford, PA

This past Saturday was on of those rare days that Chip, Danielle and myself were off on the same day and this time it was warm.  In the past posts, we've been hitting Greene County pretty hard , so we decided to go see what Fayette County had to offer.  I never knew this distillery even existed less then a year ago.While researching something else, this popped up.We took advantage of the unseasonable warmth and went on over.  As we headed into Broad Ford, we caught glimpse first of the grain elevators and stack towering over the rest of the buildings.  To our dismay, the large barrel storage ware house I had seen on the Bing maps was no more.  We received  permission to park in a local guys lot (nice guy), who gave us a brief run down of the property.  This site is heavily posted, but we took the risks anyway.  Once inside, we were struck w/ a sense of awe on how cool the location was, and just how much of the original wooden equipment was still intact.  We should have stayed longer but we had some more locations to hit and it began to rain.We called it a day at the Overholt plant.  We shall return soon, as we think there is plenty more to see.


Old Overholt is a long produced American rye whiskey distilled by A. Overholt & Co, currently a subsidiary of Beam Inc., at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Old Overholt was originally distilled in Broad Ford, Pennsylvania, 35 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. It is one of the few straight rye whiskies available at most liquor stores in the United States. The company claims to have been established in 1810, and the bottle states that at 80 proof (40% alcohol), this is a four year aged whiskey. (Thanx wiki!)

We are unsure when this plant became idle, as references on this seem to overlook this.   Feel free to jump in and comment if you have any information.
What we do know is that when this plant closed, production moved to Large, PA and Overholt was produced there until 1958 or so, pictures of this follow  at the bottom of the post.
A few fun facts about the Old Overholt label.  The whiskey is named for Abraham Overholt, a farmer and distiller and later, grandfather of the American Industrialist Henry Clay Frick, and we have researched that this was the rye whiskey of choice of Doc Holliday.  Also, the song "American Pie" by Don McLean, the line goes "...and good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye", a reference to rye whiskey....Old Overholt perhaps, distilled  locally? Quite possibly!


View from Bing maps.  The red building w/ the poor roof on the left is collapsed and a pile of rubble now.

1940's era

Present era

In the first building we were greeted by a set of heavily altered stairs that we preceded to climb.  We don't recommend this to anyone.  We shot a quick, quiet video on the second floor as we returned back downstairs.

A short video introduction.....

As always, click on the pictures to view full size!

D going up!

Adding machines were scattered all about.

Very cool!

Yeast hopper

Under the grain silo area.

"Downtown" Chippy G!

Cold storage

Note the missing steps.


Interesting sidebar to this story, for years I've driven north on the "new" toll road 43 to where it terminates in Large , PA right at 51 and I have always seen this:

Apparently, this is the remains of the Large Distillery that was sold to the National Distillery Company, who quit manufacturing the Large brand whiskey and began producing Old Overholt.  From what I have read, production stopped at around 1958 here, but unlike the Broad Ford distillery, this ones buildings seem to still be in use, and you can see some of the original buildings have been added on to.