Sunday, December 2, 2012

Monongahela Hotel (Towne House Apartments) - Brownsville, PA

The Monongahela Hotel (also known as the Towne House apartments) located in Brownsville, PA, stands vacant between the First (Monongahela) National Bank and the Second National Bank across from the Union Station. It is one of the many buildings along ‘the Neck’ that have become decaying shells of their former glory and are soon to be dismantled and razed.
The Towne House sign

History of the Monongahela Hotel
The Monongahela Hotel originally started out as the residential home of Samuel Krepps and built in 1832. It was located on the land that was eventually to be the site of the First National Bank. Krepps was offered a deal too good to decline and sold his house to a man named McCurdy, who turned the home into a hotel in 1844 to accommodate the flood of visitors to the bustling city of Brownsville. At first the business was prosperous – until the new railroad lines began to take travelers off the National Road. No longer able to keep the business afloat, McCurdy defaulted on his payments and the Monongahela house would eventually be owned by another six different men, the final owner being the son Samuel Krepps.
The Monongahela House was razed in 1911 and a new building was built. This new Monongahela house was in operation until 1923, when it was bought and became the Monongahela (First) National Bank in 1925, which then closed in 1931 and later reopened in 1947 as the First National Bank. In the second Monongahela House (now called the Monongahela Hotel) a men’s store occupied the right and a bar occupied the left, until it was eventually closed by the Prohibition. Hotel owner Samuel Leff was approached by the Monongahela National Bank in 1923 with a proposal to buy the building; because business was doing well and the new hotel was becoming too small to accommodate all of the business, Leff sold the Hotel and began building the final version of the hotel to the left of its previous location.
This new Monongahela hotel opened on March 15, 1925. The hotel featured more than double the amount of rooms that it previously had and even featured an annex, reachable only by an enclosed bridge, above the Monongahela National Bank to house excess guests. 
Enclosed Bridge

This new hotel had five ground floor entrances and was the home to other businesses. From the left they were: the Hotel’s entrance with an outside stairwell leading to a basement barbershop, the Hotel’s coffee shop, a tailor, a private bank, and a shoe shine/repair. The new hotel also had a fireproof garage located behind the main building.
Then, say about 1925

And now, 2012

An economic slump once again caused the hotel business to sour and in 1930, the hotel changed hands again. The garage would be leased to other businesses to bring in extra, much needed profit. In November of 1930, the hotel was declared bankrupt. It was sold to new owners in 1931 and use of the annex above the bank discontinued. The bank-side and hotel-side entrances were sealed and the tunnel was slated to be removed –however the bridge is still there today. The annex above the bank was eventually converted into apartments.

The Monongahela Hotel was eventually purchased by the chain, Earle Milner Hotels Corporation. It was later purchased by Frank Bock who converted the rooms into apartments and renamed the building the Towne House. 

Entrance to coffee shop

The lobby of the former Monongahela Hotel (and later Towne House

In the lobby

A closet in the hotel

Check in window

Coat area in lobby

Burroughs Sensimatic accounting machine and player piano parts

Part from the player piano

Left behind, behind the check in counter of the hotel

On the stairs to floor three...

Down the hallway...

A letter left behind

Sign in the lobby

Magazines and catalogs left in a room


An apartment room

Bedroom of apartment

Checkers, anyone?

Rooftop of the hotel, looking across Brownsville
Behind Hotel

Roof top access

Walkway to bank.  Top floors of bank served as additional rooms

Looking down the alley between the hotel and the bank

Rear view of the Monongahela Hotel on right and the
First National Bank on the left
Coffee shop window.  Reflection of the Flatiron building can be seen.  One of the few active buildings in town now.

On the side of the Second National bank
Union Station from last weeks blog, in back ground.

Ghost sign for the old Monongahela Hotel can be seen on the red bricks, up high

The old pictures of the hotel are courtesy of the following sites - for more information and interviews concerning the Monongahela hotel please visit them:


  1. I so very much enjoy this site!!! You all do a fantastic job in trying to preserve our local history! Your blogs/pics sure bring back alot of memories. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks a lot for showing us Brownsville of yesteryear. You can tell from reading the description of the hotel as it was in 1925 that Brownsville was a thriving area and that this was a high end hotel at the time - few hotels can boast of having a barbershop, tailor, shoe shine and shoe repair services on the first floor. In that coat rack area in the lobby you can almost see the finely dressed guests hanging up their coats, all of this prosperity fueled by the steel and coke making industries. Would be nice to see that kind of prosperity return.

  3. I should also say, it's interesting to see the level of business turnover from your historical description and what sorts of things precipitated the business failures and businesses changing hands.

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  5. I love this town. My family is from there. I am a descendant of the Craft family of of Samuel Krepps. There is a crazy family story of a member of the Craft family marring a Krepps. Long story short - Craft went missing, declaired legally dead after many years. Krepps-Craft raised her children - I am a descendant of this union. 20016 a unknown descendant of Craft (the dead Craft) contact me believeing we are related but couludn't put all the pieces together. With his pieces and my pieces we were able to figure out Craft didn't fall in the river and die but took on another identity and had another family.....small world...the truth always comes out

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