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Ligonier landmark to be restored

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

One Ligonier couple hopes to breathe new life into a historic building, once known as the Seger House and then as the McGinnis Hospital, on West Main Street.

Adam and Michelle Gardner applied for permission from the borough for permission to turn the Victorian mansion into an eight-room hotel. Hotels must be approved on an individual basis, according to the borough's zoning ordinance.

On Monday night the couple passed through the first round in the process to obtain their occupancy permit when planning commissioners voted unanimously to recommend that borough council members approve the application. Borough council will likely hold a public hearing before the March 14 council meeting.

The Gardners are hoping to open the hotel this July. Gardner told commissioneres she also plans to move her yarn shop, Bo Peep Fine Yarns, from the Ligonier Diamond to the first floor of the historic structure, located at 221 W. Main St.

“The main thing is to just restore the building to it's original state. I want people to walk in there and feel like it's the way it used to be,” Michelle Gardner said. “The building's in amazing shape. It just needs some cosmetic work.”

Under the name Scout LLC, the Gardners bought the property from Excela Health for $265,000 in January, according to county real estate records. It has been vacant and up for sale since Excela Health closed the SurgiCenter of Ligonier in June 2011.

The Gardners have been working to restore the inside, with hopes of opening the hotel, which will be called Thistledown at Seger House after the original owners of the building, this July.

“It's a landmark in Ligonier coming back to life,” said Jim McDonnell, a planning commissioner and councilman.

The couple also hopes to rebury the electrical wires, repair the roof and rip down some walls that were added by various owners throughout the years.

The final building will include a lounge area and retail space on the first floor, with eight hotel rooms with private baths on the second and third stories.

The $50,000 original construction of the Victorian-style mansion finished in 1918. It was owned by the Seger family until 1944 when the Allegheny County Sisters of Mercy purchased the building for $34,500 to start a hospital.

Excela Health spokeswoman Robin Jennings said in 2011 that use of the Ligonier facility had steadily declined as patients and insurance companies selected other venues for care.

The building includes three kitchens — one of which will be converted into two bathrooms by the Gardners — and an indoor swimming pool in the basement that has been boarded over for years.

Michelle Gardner said the couple has no plans to renovate the swimming pool or the carriage house located on the back of the 21,600-square-foot property at this time.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or