Photo by Thomas Kelly (courtesy of Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust, Inc.)
In the West End of Pittsburgh a nondescript building sits empty, but if the walls could talk, they would tell passerbys about a long and storied past. Built in 1782, the building has served as an inn, a confectionery, a gathering place for The Whiskey Rebellion, a tavern and a speakeasy during Prohibition.
It’s played host to Whiskey Rebellion heroes and spies, Captain Meriweather Lewis, President Ulysses S. Grant and many more historic figures.
Though the building is a historic figure in its own right, it hasn’t always been a protected landmark. The tavern is the oldest commercial building still in existence in Pittsburgh, but it hasn’t been operated since 2008 when it was sold to a neighbor for parking purposes and scheduled to be demolished. In 2009 the city stepped in to save it, labeling it a historic landmark.
In the ten years since, a group of community members have mobilized, making the building a cornerstone of a plan that will make Old Stone Tavern the catalyst towards the continued revitalization of the historic West End neighborhood.
Courtesy of Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust, Inc.
The Pittsburgh Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust is hoping to capitalize on recent talks about the mid-Atlantic’s potential to attract tourists interested in learning more about The Whiskey Rebellion and Pennsylvania’s role in the birth of American Whiskey. Though the Old Stone Tavern will certainly cater to those visiting the area, it also presents an opportunity for revitalization and community growth.
Illustrations by Thomas Kelly (courtesy of Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust, Inc.)
The Future of Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern
If the group succeeds in raising the amount of money needed for this renovation, the Old Stone Tavern will transform into a self-sustaining property, complete with an inn, Revolutionary War era tavern, restaurant and bar, green space, museum, distillery and multi-purpose venue for weddings, live music and more.
The crown-jewel of the project will be its basement speakeasy, a nod to the Old Stone Tavern’s prohibition past, where the group hopes to feature every Pennsylvania whiskey “on tap”.
The Old Stone Tavern would make a welcome addition to the Whiskey Rebellion Trail, helping tell the story of the mid-Atlantic’s history of whiskey excellence, and showcasing Pittsburgh’s prominence as a beautiful and unique area that honors its past.
Check out the Whiskey Rebellion pass The Old Stone Tavern would be added to and explore the Strip District via a walking tour that encourages whiskey tasting along the way! Sample tasters from Wigle Whiskey, Kingfly Spirits and Maggie’s Farm Rum and check out the Heinz History Center for a day full of fascinating and delicious history.