The History of the Historical Summit Inn

The history of the Summit really begins in 1806 when Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson, suggested a National Road ” to connect the East with the West”. Albert Gallatin lived only about twenty miles from the present day Summit and may have been prompted by his own need for travel convenience.

Construction on the National Road was begun in 1813 and was made public in 1818. It remained the internal improvement made by the Federal Government until the Civil War and was the principal highway West until somewhat replaced by the railroad in 1852.

The road was justly renowned for the great number and excellence of its inns, or taverns. On the mountain division every mile had its own tavern. Here one could be seen perched on an elevated site near the road side, and there another sheltered behind a clump of trees, many of them with inviting seats for idlers, and all with cheerful fronts toward the weary traveler.

Atop the Summit Mountain of Chestnut Ridge on the National Road was one of the above described taverns. It was known as the Fayette Springs Hotel and sat opposite the road from the existing Summit Inn. Both the National Road and the Fayette Springs Hotel fell into disrepair during the second half of the last century. However, about 1900, the State of Pennsylvania took over the road and the improvements made the idea of a hotel once more inviting.

It was with this in mind that some of Uniontown’s wealthiest men got together and formed the Summit Hotel Company. Their goal was to build a mountain resort of “exceptional quality and durability”. They succeeded with the Summit Hotel.

The Summit Hotel was first opened to the public in 1907. Due to its excellent facilities, location and beautiful view, the resort was an immediate success and has enjoyed continuous popularity ever since a colorful German named Leo Heyn purchased the complex about 1930 and made it nationally famous.

The original hotel register, proudly displayed in the lobby, dates back to 1917 when Henry Ford and Thomas Edison brought the American Science Wizards here to race down the mountain. The German influence of Leo Heyn can still be seen in the Bavarian front entrance and our Baron Munchausen Room, a hoffbrau style pub.

Mr. Heyn served as General Manager in 1918, when the Inn displayed advertising boasting of home-grown vegetables and chickens raised on the property, and the elite table water, from the celebrated “Summit Spa”, used by General George Washington and his army. Taxi service for $.50 a person was available for those wanting to venture into the city of Uniontown to shop, and a “spacious, clean garage” was available for those wishing to house their vehicles.

The present proprietors, the Shoemaker family, have made numerous major improvements to the Inn since they purchased it in 1963. Since that time more sleeping rooms have been added as well as an indoor swimming pool, and hot tub, all included at no additional charge to the guests. A video game room, billiards area, shuffleboard and volleyball keep guests occupied as well as a 9-hole golf course that continues to make “hackers” happy.

While preserving tradition, all rooms have modern conveniences including private bath, individually controlled heat and air conditioning, Internet phone portals and cable television. Service and friendliness are foremost for our guests and our staff is well-versed in the tradition of the great hotels. With this in mind, the Summit Inn Resort is proud of its past and looks forward to the next century as the place “where guests still meet like yesterday’s elite.”

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