Welcome to one of the earliest gateways to the American West!
The History: The U.S. Hotel was an integral part of Central Pennsylvania since its construction in 1835. Those venturing out west would stop at the historic hotel which offered them food, lodging, and spirits before they set out on their long and arduous journey. In 1854, the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline was completed and ran through the town of Altoona just a few miles down the road, making Hollidaysburg and the U.S. Hotel obsolete, and less than 20 years later, the hotel was destroyed in a fire. In 1886, a German brewmaster, Engelbert Gromiller, rebuilt the hotel and constructed a brewery next door. In 1905, a barroom was added and that is where the bar still sits today, the mahogany bar, mirrors, stained glass windows, and brass foot rail are all a part of the bar today, faithful to the bar’s original design over 110 years ago.
The Haunting: Before the U.S. Tavern Hotel became one of Central Pennsylvania’s charming banquet halls, it had fallen into a state of disrepair. In the mid-1990s, new owners purchased the historic building and began working on restoring it to its original beauty. As the renovations and construction continued on the second floor, strange and mysterious things began happening. The sound of laughter of footsteps echoed through the second floor and one construction worker even claims to have seen a full-bodied apparition of a woman in a white dress. Apparitions seem to abound on the second floor of the U.S. Hotel, with a second woman seen lying in a bed in pain as well as a man carrying an ax.
With stories of full-bodied apparitions and a man carrying an ax, you’d think this place would get a much higher rating… and I wish I could give one! But unfortunately, if I didn’t read about the hauntings of the U.S. Tavern Hotel before I got there, I would have had no idea… and I don’t think our waitress would have either. When I asked if she could share any experiences she might have had or heard of, she just said no and no one else was working that night that could. Instead of sharing the history of the building with us, she handed me a print out of the building’s history–the exact same thing featured on their website and nothing about the haunting. I didn’t even venture to ask to see the second floor where all the activity is said to happen. I’m not sure if the establishment is trying to hide the fact that they are haunted or if we just didn’t get the right waitress (nothing wrong with her, of course! She just wasn’t chatty when it came to the history/haunting of the building).
The U.S. Hotel offers American style cuisine with a “homecooked” spin on things. Their menu offers a variety of choices, giving most people something to choose from–pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, soups and salads, “pub plates,” and entrees. Many of the meals come with a side and we were encouraged to order the mac ‘n cheese. The mac ‘n cheese was reminiscent of Velveeta shells and was extremely filling (seriously, I could have just eaten that and been perfectly content). Aside from that, I ordered their Inferno Burger which was a simple burger with jalapeno cream cheese on top. Nothing too exceptional (especially after the Death Seat Burger), and for the price, the portions weren’t so impressive. None of the dinners really stood out to us. We also tried the stuffed BBQ burger, the meatloaf, and the pastrami Reuben, and they were all good. Good, not great. The shining star of the meal was the desserts. The desserts, called “Sis’s Choice,” are a rotating selection of homemade baked goods and you can tell because they’re the best thing at the restaurant. The cakes are decadent and filling. For only $5, these things are well worth it. We got the cheesecake and hummingbird cake and both were fantastic. Bravo, Sis!
Type of Experience: Restaurant and bar
Dining Style: Casual
Price Range: $3-29
Phone Number: (814) 695-2624
Hours of Operation:
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