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Performance Thursday - Steven Vance
23
Jan

Join Pittsburgh string enthusiast Steven Vance on Thursday the 23rd for complimentary snacks, drink specials, and music on the house!

Known for his romantic ...

Event Details

Priory Hospitality Group Wins Restaurant Neighbor Award
Friday, December 20, 2019

Priory Hospitality Group was honored to receive the 2019-20 Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association's Restaurant Neighbor Award, which recognizes food service facilities which give back to ...

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Mansions Announces Holiday Season Packages!
Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Mansions is please to announce three new holiday and winter themed packages which combine some unique Pittsburgh experiences with an overnight at our spectacular historic hotel.  All are availalbe ...

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History of the Mansions on Fifth Hotel

The Bonavita Family Era

The remaining McCooks lived in the main mansion through the 1930’s. Due to the cost of upkeep and the economic pressures of the Great Depression, the family was unable to keep current with their property taxes and the house was seized for sheriff’s sale by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department. The mansion was purchased at sheriff’s sale in 1949 by Emil Bonavita, Sr. and his wife Margaret for $28,000. The Bonavitas moved into the manse with their two children, Emil, Jr. and Charles.

As a way to pay for upkeep for the massive building, the Bonavitas began to rent rooms on the upper floors to students at nearby Carnegie Mellon University. Students were thoroughly screened, and many of those attracted to the historic property were studying at CMU’s prominent arts and theater schools. Margaret, who acted as a house mother to the many students who resided at the home over the years, resided in the McCook mansion until her (much mourned) death in 2003. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette architecture writer Patricia Lowry, tenants included Albert Brooks, Andy Warhol, Shirley Jones and George Peppard.

In 1966, Bessie McCook Reed, for whom the Amberson House was built in 1905, passed away. She lived in the home from time of her marriage until her passing. Three years later, Emil Bonavita, Jr. and his wife Marie acquired the Amberson House, and moved in to raise their family of three children - EJ, Jimmy and Michael. Emil and Marie also assisted in the boarding operations at the larger Fifth Avenue House.

In 2004, the Fifth Avenue House, the main mansion, sustained a horrific fire. The fire caused extensive damage to the upper floors. The building became uninhabitable, and its tenure as a home for students had come to an end. In the meantime, Emil and Marie looked to sell the damaged mansion to a purchaser who would restore it.

Next: Restoration

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