Wheels in motion for Butler County couple to buy historic inn
Gary Barnes still has enough clout at the Harmony Inn that he can pick up a cell phone while sitting on the patio, call the bar and order a beer.
Barnes, 68, of Pymatuning, Venango County, and business partner Carl Beers plan to sell the historic business on Mercer Street after owning it for 28 years.
The buyers, whom Barnes would not identify, are a Butler County couple who used to tend bar there nearly 10 years ago. The couple is working on getting financing and the liquor license transferred, he said.
“I think it's time for some new blood,” said Jon Barnes, Gary Barnes' son and the inn's manager. “It's a good thing for the town.”
His father said that business has been dwindling the last few years.
“There's a lot of expenses,” Barnes said. “I just want to get the hell out. I'm tired.”
The inn, with the walls of its dining and bar areas covered with pictures of Harmony's past, was the former residence of Austin Pearce, a prominent banker, mill operator and railroad executive, built in 1856.
It is believed to have had the first indoor plumbing in the area.
Through the next couple of centuries, it was used as a hotel, meeting house, livery stable, boarding house and bar and restaurant.
Barnes and Beers, 68, of Marion, Beaver County, bought the inn in 1985, and the men worked to restore it over the next two decades.
It's also famed for its ghost history. The inn's website says that psychics have verified that “friendly entities” live there.
Gary Barnes said no ghosts have “come up in my face,” but he said there's been movement that he's spotted in his peripheral vision. Jon Barnes said televisions have turned off without explanation, furniture has suddenly moved and the jukebox “comes on and plays weird songs.”
There's no date yet for the sale, Gary Barnes said. He said he's hoping the new owner keeps his son since he knows the operation.
Another son, Chris, 36, of Dormont, has been working there but is taking classes for diesel engineering at Rosedale Tech in Kennedy.
“This has been a focal point for the town,” Barnes said.
“Obviously, we're very happy it will remain open,” said Jennifer Ackerman, director of the Zelienople-Harmony Chamber of Commerce. “We did not want another loss of an eatery in the area, especially one with historical significance.”
The Kaufman House in nearby Zelienople has been closed since October 2011 after it was damaged in a fire. Owner Ken Pilarski said earlier he hoped to reopen the 110-year-old business in the fall but has been embroiled in disputes and litigation with insurance, restoration and cleaning companies.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.