An Evening with Jimmy Stewart at the Logan House

The Logan House was one of several really great things that used to be there, there being my hometown of Altoona, PA. The Logan house was a hotel that hosted the Loyal War Governors’ Conference, an often overlooked event in the history of the American Civil War.

A firm supporter of President Lincoln, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin hosted the War Governors at the hotel September 24 and 25, 1862. Thirteen governors of Union states came together to discuss the war effort, state troop quotas, and the ultimate support of President Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation. The leaders also suggested the removal of General George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

The Logan House was built in 1854 by the Pennsylvania Railroad was considered one of the grandest hotels in the country at the time. Famous visitors to the hotel included presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and William Howard Taft. Mary Todd Lincoln and her children spent a few summer days at the Hotel.

Just a year after the Governors’ Conference, David Wills of Gettysburg held a meeting there to begin plans for the establishment of the Gettysburg National Cemetery where Lincoln would deliver his immortal Gettysburg Address.

The 50th Anniversary of the Conference was celebrated in a big way in 1912, even President Taft arrived for the occasion. The celebration wasn’t enough to make Altoona appreciative of the site. The hotel was closed in 1927 and demolished in 1931.

Now you might have noticed that Jimmy Stewart wasn’t on the list of notable visitors. The 1931 demolition wouldn’t make much sense either. Jimmy Stewart the actor would have been just 23 when the hotel met its demise. The title of this post was chosen because while wandering through Antique Depot in nearby Duncansville, Pa, I picked up a copy of a program from the hotel titled Dinner to Professor James A. Stewart by his former students dated March 15, 1907.

This gives us the perfect opportunity to see what they were eating, listening to and toasting to in one of America’s fine hotels on this date in the early 20th Century.

The menu included Broiled Southern Shad with Roe; Roast Turkey, Stuffed with Cranberry Sauce, Broiled Squab on Toast, Brick Ice Cream Coffee and Cigars. Musical selections included Auld Lang Syne, Southern Smiles, Moonlight and America Forever. The Toastmaster was Dr. H. Hale Brotherlin. At the top of the Toast page is printed

“As long as men hold friendship dear, As long as rivers flow; Long life and health and happiness With our best wishes go.”

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller is co-founder and contributor to Urban Art & Antiques. His website is ericmiller.me

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