N.Y. model transforms historic Scottdale house into B&B
Having worked all over the world for her modeling career, Pat Hill has stayed in many cookie-cutter hotel rooms.
“I have traveled all my life and know the loneliness of waking up alone in a hotel room,” says Hill, a North Huntingdon native and Norwin High School graduate. “That is no fun. There were times I was jet-lagged and just wanted something to eat, but the restaurant was closed and all that was available was a vending machine.”
As the owner of South Broadway Manor in Scottdale, Hill's passion is to ensure travelers' comfort. At least, those who visit the transformed 1904 historic house, which opened as a quaint bed and breakfast in December.
It was by chance that Hill bought the house. She says reached up to scratch her head at an antique auction, and accidentally placed the winning bid. The purchase price was $47,000 in 1986.
Since then, the house has been used primarily as a private residence, with most of Hill's immediate family and other relatives having lived in the home.
“I wasn't even looking to buy any antiques,” Hill says. “But my sister really loved the house, so she was excited I had just bought it. I am glad I did, because it is such a beautiful house.”
Hill spent years and $1 million restoring the house, including removing coal soot from brick and mortar, replacing the slate roof and using antique stained glass in the windows. The mansion's rehab has been kept as close to the original as possible, maintaining its architectural integrity while updating safety standards.
“We want people to feel welcome the minute they step inside the house,” says Rick Bruckner, co-innkeeper and co-chef with his wife, June. “We like to say we offer Old World charm with today's amenities. There are so many places in this house where I keep looking because you don't see detail like that many other places.”
Rooms range from $125 to $145 per night, which includes a gourmet breakfast, such as French toast strata and asparagus, mushroom & Canadian bacon frittata.
Hill is only the second owner of the house. J.B. Brennen, a coke-and-coal industrialist, built the house for his growing family.
“It has been a labor of love for me,” says Hill, whose boyfriend suggested she make the place a bed and breakfast. “I want to create a family atmosphere for everyone who stays there. I want them to feel at home. I want them to know there is food around if they want something to eat or someone to talk to.”
Hill relies on the Bruckners to take care of the place, because she lives in New York where she works as a perfect size 8 fit model. Designers use individuals such as Hill as prototypes for their collections.
But she often visits the manor.
“Pat is so down-to-earth,” June Bruckner says. “She is so nice. She really cares about us and the people who will be staying at South Broadway Manor. We have some really fun things to offer. It's a pretty amazing house.”
June Bruckner's background includes executive chef of a vegetarian restaurant, The Walnut Street Lodge in Sharpsville. She is an expert in preparing vegan, macrobiotic and gluten-free dishes. She's been a personal chef for many years. Rick Bruckner's experience includes culinary program director of a post-secondary culinary school. They have a 10-year-old son, Tristan.
Both are graduates of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. That is how Hill found them.
Hill says she feels like she has known the Bruckners for years.
“I didn't want just a chef who would stand in the kitchen,” Hill says. “I wanted someone with personality and wonderful business sense, and I also wanted someone who is good with public relations. And then I met Rick and June. ... And they were all that and so much more. I love the aura they both bring to the home.”
The main floor includes a parlor, living room and dining room that seats 15 comfortably. Guests will see everything from original lead-crystal glass in the door to crystal chandeliers, including one where every piece is unique. The parlor features a 1650 painting of Bacchus, the god of wine and celebration.
One of the bedrooms, the Copper Room, is on the main floor. It features embossed copper ceilings and a queen-size bed. Adjoining the room is a hand-painted English trellis half bath.
Upstairs, the Victorian Room comfortably sleeps four. Take a bubble bath in the original elongated claw-foot tub with chrome and mother-of-pearl fixtures and pedestal sink.
The Federal Room, a three-room master suite, features a display of Union Civil War and French & Indian War patterned uniforms, circa 1902. A “Blood and Fire” flag, motto of the Salvation Army, a 58-caliber Springfield cap-and-ball rifle model circa 1860, as well as canteens, a bugle and other memorabilia are on display. It also has a mahogany fireplace and solid oak doors.
The Crystal Rose Room includes Louis XVI-style French paintings. It is named after the original crystal chandelier and crystal bath fixtures.
Jim Anderson, who lives in Philadelphia and flies in for business at Crown Cork & Seal in Connellsville, is a frequent guest.
“The bed and breakfast is quite charming,” he says. “Rick, the executive chef and innkeeper, is cordial and goes out of his way to ensure the guests are satisfied. The food is excellent, and it is an absolute delight to stay here.”
“We want to set ourselves apart and give guests an incredible dining experience to go with an incredible lodging experience,” Rich Bruckner says. “We know you can stay at any number of local hotels, but we want to make this your place to stay. We want them to feel like they are a guest in our home. We want to give them an experience they can remember the rest of their lives.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.