Yesterday the historic Bush House burned to the ground in Bellefonte, dealing a severe blow to a town struggling to gain back some of the lustre it had in the early 1900’s. Bellefonte, which was home to seven Pennsylvania governors, was once the most influential town between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Bellefonte is still the county seat, but is not longer the largest town in the county. Due to its past, however, Bellefonte still boasts immaculate Victorian architecture and charm. Some of that charm is lost forever.
The Bush House, built in 1868, first served as a hotel and counted Amelia Earhart and Thomas Edison as guests. In recent years the building hosted several businesses including Schnitzel’s Tavern, which was the best German restaurant in the area.
The building was erected in a time when there was money in the town. It will be impossible to build anything that could match the size and charm of the Bush House. Downtown Bellefonte has lost a little bit of its style. Hopefully, eventually something will be bult in its place that the whole community can enjoy.
I used to drive past the Bush House every day on my way home for work. For the foreseeable future I will be driving past a gaping whole wishing I could sit inside Schnitzel’s Tavern, drink a fine German beer, and enjoy the town of Bellefonte. For now, I just wish I could shake the sick feeling in my stomach.