Did you know that the Central Hotel on Cherry Street, Brackenridge, once served as a sort of country club for a group of wealthy Pittsburghers? It was built in the mid-1880ís for these people by the late Daniel B. McConville. They gave it the name of Oregon Hunting and Fishing Club.
The club still exists. It has headquarters in Brackenridge Avenue and maintains a camp at Monroe Station on the Butler Branch of Pennsylvania Railroad in Butler County.
The club has a limited membership. A new member is admitted only when a vacancy occurs because another has died, resigned or moved from the community. It may have been the only club in the valley, which did not permit a member to take a guest into the clubrooms. Any member who appeared with a guest was subject to disciplinary action. Visitors are now allowed. but only if they live more than ten miles from the club.
McConville came to this area from Follansbee. West Virginia. in the early 1880ís, about the time Captain John B. Ford was building his first plate glass plant in Creighton. He was manager of the Peterson Oil Works in East Deer Township. When the firm went out of business, he returned to his original business. that of building and plastering contracting. Vie established a tile pipe and supply yard in what is now Third Avenue below Morgan Sheet. Brackenridge.
It was about this time that he built what was to be-come the Central Hotel. He held a half-interest in the hotel. Henry Gonlock had a fourth and a member of the Conwell family a fourth. Gonlock. a blacksmith, lived on Second Avenue in Tarentum and had a shop in the rear of his home.
The entire third floor of the hotel was an ornate ballroom. Billiard arid bowling equipment were added later. There was an imposing cupola on the roof
The building continued to serve as a club house until about 1905. Local men gradually became majority members as the Pittsbughers lost interest.
McCoriville and his son, Daniel Jr. remodeled the building in 1906. They provided room for lodgers onthe second and third floors and called it the Oregon Hotel.
A fire happened on Sunday afternoon in the late summer of 1909 and was the fiercest which Pioneer Hose Company of Brackenridge had contended up to that time. Tarentum hose companies assisted in bringing the blaze under control.
Repairs were made and the McConvilles were back in the hotel business again within five months. The son had been permanently injured a few years before while plastering the dome of the New Kensington YMCA building. He gave credit to the late Dr. L. C Kline, a Tarentum osteopath, for making it possible for him to become active again. Several specialists had previously tried in vain to help him.
Jack Daughety became proprietor of the hotel about 1919. For a time it served as headquarters for a detail of state policemen stationed in the Allegheny Valley.
The hotel faded with the advent of prohibition. In 1926, a grandson. Daniel A. McConville, sold the property for the heirs to Standard Cigar Company and the building served for a time as a cigar factory. McConville was a locomotive engineer at the Brackenridge plant of Allegheny Ludlum.
The old hotel building, as stalwart as the days it was completed, later served as an apartment house.