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Former Ligonier hospital may become hotel

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 12:03 a.m.
The former McGinnis Hospital at 221 W. Main St., Ligonier, once the smallest hospital in Pennsylvania, will be converted to a hotel and retail shops.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
The former McGinnis Hospital at 221 W. Main St., Ligonier, once the smallest hospital in Pennsylvania, will be converted to a hotel and retail shops. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review

A Main Street landmark in Ligonier that was shuttered in 2011 will likely reopen in July as an eight-room hotel.

The borough planning commission on Monday night heard a proposal by Ligonier residents Adam and Michelle Gardner to turn the former McGinnis Hospital into the hotel. Michelle Gardner said she also plans to move her yarn shop, Bo Peep Fine Yarns, from the Ligonier Diamond to the first floor of the historic structure at 221 W. Main St.

“The main thing is to just restore the building to its 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.”

Planning commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Gardners' application to council, which will likely hold a public hearing before the March 14 council meeting. Hotels must be approved on an individual basis, according to the borough's zoning ordinance.

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 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, in July.

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

The couple wants to rebury electrical wires, repair the roof and rip down walls added by owners throughout the years.

The restored 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 was 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 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 on the back of the 21,600-square-foot property.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media.

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