Location: The Parador Inn Bed & Breakfast on Western Avenue in Allegheny West (which happens to be a stop on this year’s Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour)
Featured guest: Ed Menzer, owner of The Parador Inn
3 things that surprised me:
1. The mansion on Western Avenue was built in the 1870s, but Ed is only its fourth owner. It was first owned by Joshua Rhodes, who got his start in business selling fruits and vegetables. Rhodes went on to become a brewer, a banker, president of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad and chairman of the National Tube Co. While pulling a wall out a few years back, Ed found some of Joshua’s old mail.
2. After being owned by the Rhodes family for 60 years, the building was sold to the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, which owned it for another 60 years. Ed says that former Steelers owner Dan Rooney was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and was rumored to have spent a lot of time in the building. While renovating the bed and breakfast, Ed found a closet full of old robes from the organization as well as boxes of other ephemera.
3. Ed is from Pittsburgh but used to run a bed and breakfast in Florida. After selling his business down there he returned to Pittsburgh for a visit and looked at the mansion –which was for sale – as a lark. He could see that the building needed a lot of work, but he was struck by the structure and bought it in 2005. He infused his love of Florida into the Parador Inn with the Caribbean decor. Today he’s getting ready to retire and he recently listed the building for sale. The Parador Inn is now looking for its fifth owner. The asking price is $2 million.
One thing that didn’t make the final cut: I asked Ed if he thinks the mansion is haunted. He said he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but a friend has done some paranormal investigation in the building. If there is a ghost on the premises, Ed guesses that it would be Joshua Rhodes’ daughter-in-law, who died young. Ed’s heard some phantom footsteps, noted some moving pillows and he recalls that the contents of a bottle of port once disappeared. Ed still considers himself a skeptic.