Home » Hotel Schenley Register

Hotel Schenley Register

What’s online?

The entire collection is scanned and online.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Hotel Schenley register is a single record volume produced by the American Hotel Register Company of Chicago. The covers of the volume are bound in red leather and "Hotel Schenely" is stamped in embossed gold lettering on the front cover. The end sheets for the volume include maps entitled, "Leahy's Railway Distance Map of the United States." Along the edge of the end sheets are advertisements for various Pittsburgh-area businesses. The advertisements are on leather and also embossed in gold. The first section of the volume consists of the register of guests that logded at the hotel from April 4, 1908 to July 21, 1908 and consists of approximately 150 pages. Recorded on the top of each page is the day of the week and date. The main body of the page is arranged as a table with entries for the name of the hotel guest, their city or place of residence and the room they were assigned while at the Hotel Schenley. Following the register section of the volume is a printed hotel guide consisting of 42 pages entitled, "Leahy's Hotel Guide of America." The guide is organized by state and contains a copyright date of March, 1907.

About Hotel Schenley

Constructed in what was originally a cow pasture owned by Mary Croghan Schenley, the Hotel Schenley opened its doors on October 1, 1898. The keystone of entrepreneur Franklin Nicola’s dream of Oakland—which was far away from smog-filled downtown—as a center for culture, art and education, the Hotel Schenely was Pittsburgh’s first skyscraper hotel and was considered the grand hotel through the turn of the century.

Nicola had been instrumental in the formation of the Bellefield Company with the help of other Pittsburgh notables: Andrew W. Mellon, Henry Frick, Andrew Carnegie, George Westinghouse and H. J. Heinz were among the first stockholders who shared Nicola’s vision for a cultured Oakland. The Bellefield Company would build many notable landmarks around open areas of Oakland: the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), Forbes Field, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, the Masonic Temple (now Pitt’s Alumni Hall), the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, the Schenley Hotel, and Schenley Farms (an upscale residential neighborhood). By 1900, Hotel Schenley was owned and managed by James Riley.

Filled with marble, chandeliers, and Louis XV styled furnishings, the Hotel Schenley quickly became the Pittsburgh home to the great and the “near-great.” On the evening of January 9, 1901, officials of the Carnegie Steel Company—including Charles M. Schwab, William Singer, and Alexander Peacock—celebrated the founding of the United States’ first billion-dollar company: US Steel. It was also the site of a speech by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev during his American tour in 1959. Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Dwight Eisenhower were all counted as guests at the Hotel Schenley. Singer-actress Lillian Russell lived on the fourth floor and married Pittsburgh publisher Alexander Moore in the French Room. Italian tragedian Eleanora Duse succumbed to pneumonia in Suite 524.

At the start of the twentieth century Hotel Schenley was not only an exclusive place to stay in Pittsburgh but also where young ladies of society socialized, couples married, where one could dine on the "haute cuisine" of the day. Hotel Schenley would change in 1909 with the opening of Forbes Field and the relocation of the University of Pittsburgh from its former location on the North Side to Oakland. From that time on, the "Waldorf of Pittsburgh" gradually became the home of the National League baseball players in town to play the Pittsburgh Pirates and student and faculty took their place among the Pittsburgh elite. Well known professional baseball figures like Babe Ruth, Casey Stengle, Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby lodged at the Hotel Schenley.

In 1956, the renamed Schenley Park Hotel was sold to the University of Pittsburgh to serve, among other things, as its student union. While $1 million was spent to renovate the facility, the Hotel Schenley would not be completely overhauled (into what exists today) until 1980, when the student population of the Pittsburgh campus blossomed to 30,000-plus and their activities diversified and grew. In that year the university announced a $13.9 million renovation and restoration for the Union, made possible by bonds sold through the Allegheny County Higher Education Building Authority. During the 18-month project, seven upper floors were gutted, making way for bright, modern offices for students and the student affairs administration. The turn-of-the-century character of the main floor has been retained through careful restoration, and the rarely used basement became a functional lower level, with the new Forbes Avenue Entrance. Today the Hotel Schenley exists as the William Pitt Union, the University of Pittsburgh’s bustling student center.

(1 - 1 of 1)