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This was an article published in the Jefferson College Times,
Jefferson College Historical Society, Vol. XXII, No. 2, May 1989.

The Cushnie Hotel

by J.T. Herron

The Cushnie Hotel and residence at 322 and 324 South Central Avenue, Canonsburg, PA. photographed about 1909. The buildings were razed in the early 1960s.

The Canonsburg Land and Improvement Co., which had purchased the Black farm on the south side of Chartiers Creek in 1894, immediately laid the farm out in building lots. In 1901, William H. Fee purchased lot #225 which was located on the west side of Central Avenue north of the lot on which the two- story brick South Canonsburg School building would soon be erected.

David Cushnie (1841-1920) and his wife, Margaret, (1855-1911) purchased lot $225 from William and Julie M. Fee. The Canonsburg Notes, April 3, 1902, under the heading ”Local Happenings” states: "Mr. Cushnie of Greenside Avenue, Canonsburg has moved to his new house on Central Avenue."

The Fee to Cushnie deed describes the property as fronting 40 feet on Central Avenue and extending west for 190 feet to Black Alley. The purchase price was $250.

David Cushnie was born in Scotland and came to America at an undetermined date. It is known that he worked in the coal mines at Carbondale, Pa. The family later moved to the Pittsburgh area where they purchased property prior to coming to Canonsburg.

The Canonsburg Notes of September 30, 1904 announced that ground had been broken for the Cushnie Hotel on September 22, 1903. The hotel was built north of the house and connected to it by a wing at the rear of the two buildings. The street address of the hotel was 322 South Central and the house was 324.

The Notes of September 30, 1904 stated the hotel building had been completed and the rooms were being furnished. The details were: there were four floors on which rooms are located, seventeen sleeping rooms, mostly on the third and fourth floors, the first floor contained a store room for the bakery business and a large hall, and the second floor comprised an office, dining room and parlor.

In an earlier article (September 2, 1904) the Notes stated, "The proprietors propose to do a regular hotel business, and it is probable that they will run a hack line to and from the railroad station. For almost a year and a half Canonsburg has been without a hotel of any kind, and in this respect the town has occupied a unique as well as an unenviable position."

Illustration from R.L. Polk & Co's Washington Canonsburg Directory 1905-06.

Again from the local paper October 25, 1904: "The Cushnie Hotel is open and doing a fine business." The Notes lists the proprietors as the Cushnie Brothers, but the directory sting shows "D. Cushnie and Sons" as proprietors. The sons being: David P, Charles C. and John D. Cushnie.

The Cushnie family also operated a commercial bakery in the hotel building. The large brick oven was heated by gas and could bake 300 loaves of bread at a time. John D. Cushnie, one of the sons of David, Sr., was the baker. The bakery had a horse drawn delivery wagon and another son, Charles C., made the deliveries of baked goods to stores in the area.

The Hotel De Cushnie was known to have been the host for the traveling show companies that came to the Morgan Opera House. Dr. M. Esther Cushnie is quoted, in a family letter, as remembering the theatrical people coming to the hotel and she "peeking in the dining room and seeing them all dressed up." Since, at that time, it was the only hotel here, many of the guests would have been persons who had business with the Bridge Works, Canonsburg Pottery or the Canonsburg Steel and Iron Works.

The newspaper failed to mention that the Cushnie Hotel was in the Borough of South Canonsburg--not Canonsburg. South Canonsburg was an independent and separate municipality which was not merged with Canonsburg until 1911.

By the time the Polk Directory for 1909-10 was issued, the hotel was not listed. Charles C. and his wife, Sarah, were living in the Cushnie house next door to the hotel. He was by that time an electrical engineer at the Standard Tin Plate Co. The father and mother were also living at the same address.

Evidently, the hotel only operated for about five years and then the rooms were rented as apartments or by the month.

By 1911, Max Cushnie was operating the bakery and John D. Cushnie, who was formerly one of the hotel proprietors, is listed as having a grocery store in the hotel store room. Later, John D. left Canonsburg and was employed by the Ford Motor Company. David Cushnie, Jr. was employed at the Canonsburg Pottery after the hotel ceased to operate.

There had been several tenants in the front store room of the hotel building. Levins Grocery for a time, then, in the early 30s, Dr. M. Esther Cushnie, a daughter of Charles C., had her medical office there. Later Patsy Matrogran had a shoe repair shop in the store room.

The Cushnie heirs sold the property in 1960 and the 1961 directory lists 322 as vacant. Within a short time the construction of Route 79 began and the building that had been the Hotel De Cushnie was demolished. The site is now a high fill on the west side of the Route 79 bridge that spans South Central Avenue.