Search billions of records on

The Montrose Hotel
(a/k/a "Thunderbird Boatel")
Blawnox, PA

(Source: Post Card Photo Borrowed from Internet)

Posted July 21, 2005
With Permission From The O'Hara Township (Allegheny County, PA) History Book Committee . . .

The center of attention along River Road was the Montrose Hotel.   Located for 80 years at the docks for the ferry to Verona, a rail center on the opposite eastern shore of the Allegheny.   There were indications as far back as the 1850s that there had been ferry service between the two shores and that a tavern or hotel had been there to service the traffic.

An 1851 map shows a store operated by the JESSUP family and a tavern/store operated by J. BOYD between the canal and what is today River Road (at the time referred to as Freeport Road).   The building later known as the Montrose Hotel was constructed around 1884 and continued the tradition of those early establishments.   Ezekiel GORDON and his wife Isabella HULINGS GORDON built the hotel.   Zeke GORDON was a steamboat captain and his wife was from the famous river family who ran the tavern just up the river at Hulings Eddy.

Zeke and Isabella¹s son Ezekiel Jr. took over the hotel in 1898.   He also married into a well-known local family when he joined with Jane POWERS in 1886.   Ezekiel Jr. ran the hotel until 1903 when he disposed of it and went back to running a steamboat, the "Charles Turner".

Around 1909 new owners christened it the Montrose Hotel.   A postcard from that era exclaims, "special chicken and waffle dinners on short notice."  The picture emphasizes its proximity to boat docks and to the Glenover Station. "Meet me at Montrose Hotel," was an early advertising 'catch phrase' used on a series of postcards.

The Montrose Hotel continued in operation through World War II when John T. ADAMS purchased it in 1945. ADAMS sold it in October 1962 and the new owner, Thomas LUGEN, remodeled and renamed it the "Thunderbird Boatel."  Mr. LUGEN spent a quarter of a million dollars to revamp the 80-year-old building into a combination motel and dock facility for pleasure boats.  It wasn¹t long after the remodeling that disaster struck.  On January 28, 1964, the Thunderbird burned to the ground, taking with it the neighboring home of the previous owner, John ADAMS.

Source: Copyright 2004, The O'Hara Township History Book Committee

Power Media and Design, 328 Second Street, Pittsburgh, PA  15215
Phone: 412-781-7076, Fax: 412-781-8118
E-mail (56K):
E-mail (DSL):

Back To Home Page