Tomorrow is the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studio (the first motion picture studio) (1893), the first car insurance was issued (1898), the first session of the Supreme Court (1790), GI Joe was introduced (1964), Late Night with David Letterman premiered (1982), General Electric Theater premiered (1953), Geensboro’s Sit-in (1960) and the space shuttle Columbia disaster (2003).  Birth anniversaries include actor Clark Gable (1901), flim director John Ford (1895), African American poet & author Langston Hughes (1902) and Russian president Boris Jeltsin (1931).

The Haslett House Bed and Breakfast finally got their CO and are open for business.  They are a log cabin in Old Economy, 16 miles north west of me.  As I hear the horror stories of Inns trying to open, I wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to start a bed and breakfast.  When I look back on my battles with the city, they almost seem minor compared to what Dennis did trying to open The Haslett House or what Justin is still doing trying to open The Allegheny Inn.  I know Justin has been fighting bureaucracy for at least two years trying to open.  I’m hearing Justin should be getting his CO within about a month.

First off, I wasn’t too excited in the beginning of January when I got my gas bill.  December 2014 my bill was $1,347 and my bill for December 2015 was $387.  December 2015 was much warmer than December 2014.  Now January 2015 vs January 2016 was pretty much equally cold.  January 2015, my gas bill was $1,459 and January 2016 the bill is $746!  The new windows are doing the trick.  Several January’s were close to or just over $2,000 in the past.

Originally built as The First Immanuel Evangelical Church, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center is located at 1000 Madison Avenue in the Deutschtown area of the Northside.  Built in 1889 it has been transformed into an art center and event center.  They have two spaces for rent, the chapel on the second floor and the gallery on the main floor.  The current exhibit in the gallery is work by New Zealand resident artist Fiona Amundsen called Like a Body Without Skin based on photographs by German photographers Hilla & Bernd Becher who photographed several Pittsburgh blast furnaces.  Who published a book by the same name in the 1980’s.  The exhibit is free and runs through March 31.  Neu Church is open Monday through Friday 10 am till 6 pm.

Dinner Lab contacted me last week, they wanted to host one of their dinners in my Ballroom.  But they were anticipating 120 guests, I can fit 100.  So I had to decline.  In case you aren’t familiar with Dinner Lab, it’s something like the white dinners.  Twenty five years ago Francois Pasquier hosted the first Diner en Blanc in Paris.  He invited some friends to a dinner at a secret location.  And some of the friends were bringing friends, so he asked everyone to wear all white so guests could identify each other.  And the trend started.  It’s a fun pop up kind of an event. Pittsburgh is just starting Diner en Blanc an Dinner Labs.

James Simon loves his art in a big way.  His medium is usually clay and cement.  He just completed a 16 foot tall woman playing bass, two six foot dogs, two nine foot dancers and a large jukebox for Perry Harvey Park in Tampa.  He’s the artist that did the clay musicians in the 900 block of Liberty Avenue.  Obviously, he cranks out some remarkable pieces in his uptown studio.

I just came back from St Pete, Savannah & Charleston.  I drove down to Tampa with my friend Jeff that co-owns the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.  Karl and he are building this colossal lodge in West Virginia, it will be the third largest residence in the state (the governor’s mansion is larger and #2 is just slightly bigger).  They had to cut a road in to reach the top of the mountain:


And here’s the view from the main level:

view from main floor front window

And here’s the view from the end of the above field towards the lodge:

front from a distance

Here’s a view of the unfinished main floor:

main floor towards welcome area

They’re thinking of getting out of daily Innkeeping and just doing corporate retreats, etc.  Quite the undertaking.

Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, Punxsutawney Phil, lets hope he doesn’t see his shadow.  The House at the End of the Road, was a bed and breakfast close by and they had all kinds of stories about the crowds that come up for the festivities.  They closed the Inn so they could travel and enjoy their grand kids, etc.

The William Penn Hotel opened March 9, 1916, so their 100 anniversary is about a month away.  What a grand building.  I worked there in the 1990’s.  Servico owned the building back then and money was scarce.  Don Berger, my boss and still good friend, had made all the ornaments that decorated their lobby Christmas tree back then.  He had made them several years before I started and it was mass production repairing them each fall so everything was ready to decorate.  It was pretty fun (and funny).  In the late 1920’s they created an addition facing Grant Street which brought the number of rooms to 1,600.  That is the reason the sides do not match and you frequently have to go up or down stairs to go from one place to another.  They were very small rooms, but state of the art at the time with a unique amenity at the time, private baths.  When Alcoa bought it in the 1960’s and did their renovations, the dropped the number down to just under 600 rooms and suites.  If you’ve never seen the ballrooms, you really should go up at some point and see the grand ballroom (which is cool) and the Urban Room an amazing Art Deco styled ballroom adjoining the grand ballroom.  During prohibition, they had a speak easy tucked away under the stairs which has recently re-opened.

That’s it for today, enjoy this great weather while we have it.  I was able to hose accumulate winter grime off all three porches today,



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