West Main Street mansion in Ligonier to open as inn

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As Adam Gardner dug out the plaster lining of a south-facing wall of the former McGinnis Hospital in Ligonier, he discovered a window with more than a dozen panes of stained glass.

“We were planning on replacing the window until we saw the stained glass,” the Ligonier man said. “We learned that the Sisters of Mercy installed it in 1948. This room used to be a chapel.”

Gardner, and his wife, Michelle, hope to find more hidden treasures as they renovate the 95-year-old Victorian mansion and give it new life as an inn, scheduled to open in late July.

“I keep trying to find where they kept their gold, but I haven't found any yet,” Gardner joked.

Earlier this month, Ligonier Borough Council approved the couple's plans for Thistledown at Seger House, an eight-room hotel at 221 W. Main St. The Seger family originally commissioned the construction of the building for $50,000.

The eight rooms — each with a private bathroom — will occupy the historic mansion's second and third floors.

The first floor will house Michelle Gardner's shop Bo-Peep Fine Yarns, which will relocate from the Ligonier Diamond, a small cafe that will serve breakfast and lunch to the public and a lounge area.

“We're looking to restore the original beauty and look of the building,” said architect Loren Wright of Pittsburgh-based Piper O'Brien Herr Architects.

Wright said work on the building will include “primary interior renovations with minor exterior modifications.”

“I'd like to see this thing fly. It's a nice addition to our town,” Councilman Jim McDonnell said.

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

The residence 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.

The building includes six gas fireplaces, three kitchens, the original coal furnace and an indoor lap pool, which has been boarded over for years, in the basement.

The Gardners have been restoring the interior, tearing down several walls and renovating bathrooms to create a floor plan similar to that of the original home.

The couple hopes to bury the electrical wires, mend the roof and finish the west-side portico to be used for outside dining.

Adam Gardner said he has procured several accents, such as wooden wainscoting and two doors to be used as the main entrance, that come from the same time period as the original mansion.

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

“We would love to restore the pool and the carriage house at some point in the future,” Adam Gardner said.

The Gardners had no lifelong dream of operating an inn, but have always admired the house, Adam Gardner said.

“We were looking for a place to own for Bo-Peep (rather than renting), and this came up for sale, and we thought turning it into an inn would be a great use of space,” he said. “We're just very excited about it. And we've been very encouraged by the response we're getting from the community.”

Rooms will cost between $125 to $275, depending on the season and day of the week.

For more information on Thistledown at Seger House, call Bo-Peep Fine Yarns at 724-238-4040.

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

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