Calling all history buffs! Brush up on Pennsylvania’s past when visiting these historic banks, hotels, and churches that have been repurposed into hip new hangouts. Nothing beats a hot spot with history!
Bars and Breweries
1. The Brew Bank Brewing Company
Located inside a restored bank building originally built in the 1800s, The Brew Bank Brewing Company is the perfect place to grab a drink and a bite to eat in downtown Ridgway. Above the craft brewery and restaurant is the Sleepy Man Hotel, an Airbnb where guests can fall asleep surrounded by Gothic Revival-reminiscent architecture after enjoying the alluring ambience of the brewery.
2. Corner Vault
The Corner Vault is a bar in what used to be the Reedsville National Bank, which was established in 1891. To keep with the theme, the bar’s counter contains thousands of nickels while the floor of the former bank vault is inlaid with bright, copper pennies. Not many people can say they enjoyed a brew in a bank!
3. Battlefield Brew Works
Battlefield Brew Works is Pennsylvania's oldest brewery and distillery combination (under one roof). Located in a historic Civil War building in Adams County, this brewery and restaurant delivers a unique experience, as the original Pennsylvania Dutch brick end barn was built around 1848 and used as one of the largest Confederate field hospitals after the Battle of Gettysburg. Today, the building attracts visitors looking for craft beers, distilled spirits, and fantastic food within its historic and rustic atmosphere.
4. Titusville Iron Works Tap House
Titusville Iron Works Tap House resides in the historic Iron Works building, formerly a large factory that began operating in the 1860s in the heart of the Oil Region. The building sits directly on the railroad line where gas engines, steam engines, smokestacks, and pump jacks were manufactured; however, it’s now a venue for live music and drinking. Complete with mid-century furniture, industrial relics, museum-quality exhibits, and outdoor dining space, the Titusville Iron works still pays homage to the 1800s, but with a new flare.
5. Bube’s Brewery
Step back in time to the early days of American brewing at Bube’s Brewery, a brewpub, several restaurants, and event space created in a complex of buildings built in the 1870s to house an inn, bar, and lager production facility. The original brewery closed shortly before prohibition began in 1920 and remained shuttered for about 70 years when restoration began at the end of the 1960s. Today, you can enjoy a feast in the former beer aging cellars now known as the “catacombs;” sit in the brewery’s original ice house and sip a fresh brew; or participate in a murder mystery dinner in the original tavern/inn building.
Restaurants and Markets
6. Flagship City Food Hall
Located in the heart of downtown Erie, Flagship City Food Hall sits in what was the formerly iconic bar named Sherlock’s Park Place that served as an area staple for more than 40 years. The food hall has no chain restaurants but all the best food that northwestern Pennsylvania has to offer, including Asian, Dominican, Middle Eastern, Italian, and southern-style comfort food. The food hall still features the original brick archways and other architectural features created to reflect the history, culture, and talents of the Erie community, including its population of new Americans.
7. Lebanon Farmers Market
Formerly the site of the Lebanon County Jail, today’s Lebanon Farmers Market has an interesting past involving the law. In the 1870s, the small town of Lebanon made national news with the murder trial of a group of men known as the “Blue Eyed Six.” The infamous trial lasted for nearly six months and ended with the courtyard hanging of five of the Blue Eyed Six on the property. The jail burnt down and the Market House constructed on the site in the 1890s. The building is home to many small businesses including candy stores, flower shops, and rolled ice cream stands, where visitors can grab a treat and learn about its eerie past.
8. Victor's Italian Restaurant
A neighborhood staple since 1984, Victor’s Italian Restaurant is located in the former church of the Green Hill Evangelical Association. No longer used for church services almost 100 years, the building has housed a variety of tenants including a grocery store, barber, and tavern. Today’s visitors can enjoy outstanding Italian food, cocktails, and craft beer while taking in the quaint atmosphere and lovely outdoor patio dining. Friday nights, catch some live jazz performances.
9. Jack’s Firehouse Restaurant
A 19th century Philadelphia firehouse, Jack's Firehouse Restaurant is located in the Fairmount neighborhood. Although it has been restored, visitors will still be able to see the original mahogany interior, wood plank floors, large wooden doors, and even a fire pole! Take a seat at the large mahogany bar with beer taps made to look like old fire canisters and enjoy the historic ambiance.
10. Brewerie at Union Station
Once a train station considered a “modern marvel” in the 1920s with its geometric Art Deco detailing executed in terracotta and metal, Union Station now holds many of Erie’s local businesses. The Brewerie at Union Station, for example, is considered one of the best restaurants in Erie. Visitors can grab a bite to eat and a craft beer while taking in the station’s history. If you happen to visit between April and October, check out the brewery’s Haunted History Tour, where visitors can learn about the building’s haunted past.
11. Carmen’s 2.0 Restaurant
Carmen’s 2.0 Restaurant is located in the historic Grand Station Lobby of the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, which once served as the glamorous entryway to Scranton to travelers arriving by train as a railway station. Built in 1906, history buffs will adore the quaint and authentic experience inside this hotel lobby restaurant with its historical architectural elements, including a Tiffany glass ceiling. Diners will enjoy a fine-dining meal featuring pasta and seafood dishes, while admiring the French Renaissance inspired style of the building. (Please note: the restaurant is currently only open during breakfast hours.)
Bank+Vine is a casual dining experience located in one of downtown Wilkes-Barre’s historic bank buildings. Visitors are invited to take a trip back to the early 1900’s while dining in the old lobby with its 30-foot vaulted ceilings. Located upstairs, “The Annex” features a secluded private dining room overlooking the entire restaurant, perfect for large groups or parties. Get comfortable and grab a drink in the lounge section before taking a seat in front of the fireplace.
13. Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center
Located in the beautiful, Classical Revival style former U.S. Post Office built in 1914, the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center is now the ultimate destination for aspiring meteorologists to learn about the science of weather. Kids and visitors of all ages stop by to explore the interactive exhibits and watch performances in the center’s theater. Forecast fanatics can even check out Punxsutawney’s very own Weather Hall of Fame featuring meteorologists who have advanced the knowledge of weather science and climatology.
14. The Notary Hotel
History meets modernity at Philadelphia’s Notary Hotel. Formerly City Hall Annex, the iconic building was constructed in 1926 and once considered the heart of the city’s government. Today, the space has been transformed into a hotel that has left a signature stamp on Center City. With the original marble floors and brass molding still intact, The Notary Hotel is the perfect place for history buffs to stay while exploring the city.
15. Kane Historic Preservation Society
Once a working railroad station dating back to the early 1870s, The Kane Depot is now home to the Kane Historic Preservation Society. Formed in 1995, a group by the name of the “Depot Boys” decided that the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station needed to be preserved for the history of Kane. Thanks to the Depot Boys, most of the original exterior and interior remains in near-original condition so visitors can stop and admire the historic station.
16. New York Wire Works
Currently a space for artists, entrepreneurs, and business owners, the New York Wire Works building has a long history of innovation and revitalization. Originally built as the York Wire Cloth Company in 1888, the space was used to produce wire cloth for insect cleaning. Today, it has been repurposed into a creative co-working area with two expansive markets and a café. If you get a chance to visit, you will see some of the original looms and spools of wire displayed throughout the building.
17. Pajama Factory
The Pajama Factory building has gone through many transformations and adaptations since it was built in 1883. Originally housing a rubber goods manufacturer producing tennis, gym and yachting shoes and Keds sneakers, by the 1930s it was home to a pajama manufacturer and grew to become the world’s largest pajama factory in the 1950s. Thirty years later, the building’s life as a manufacturing facility had ended and it housed restaurants, a nightclub, and a country line dancing venue. Today, the building is a hub for creatives with over 130 tenants ranging from a variety of small businesses and artists.
18. Mr. Smalls Theatre
Housed in the once Catholic church of St. Ann’s built in 1924, Mr. Smalls Theatre was transformed in 2002 into an 800-seat theatre and concert hall after the church was closed in 1998. Retaining the former church’s high ceilings and beautiful, stained-glass front window, the venue now also houses a smaller stage and a café in the basement. Mr. Smalls Theatre hosts performances by both local and national artists with a full slate of upcoming events.
19. Dragon’s Den
The story of Homestead’s historic St. Magdalene Church is truly one of a phoenix rising from the ashes following devastating fires until 2009 when the building ceased to function as a parish church. The beautifully restored Italianate Renaissance building is now home to Dragon’s Den, a non-profit providing transformative learning environments with the church re-imagined into a youth challenge course. With a 160-foot zipline and 20-foot climbing wall, the church’s original architectural structure lets youth overcome challenges and face their fears on this intricate course.
Learn about more historical buildings that have been reminaged into breweries on the visitPA.com website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.