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Facts about the Bush House

(Photo courtesy Dr. Gary L. Catchen)

Bush House facts submitted by Justin Kirk Houser, Bellefonte jkh167@psu.edu

(The Bush House was completely destroyed by fire, Feb. 8, 2006. Pictures of the fire can be found here)

The Bush House was built in 1868, as part of a post-Civil War boom in Bellefonte. The Brockerhoff House was built during this same era, as railroad access became more prevalent in Bellefonte.

*The building construction was financed by Daniel G. Bush, the quintessential self-made man. Bush started off life as a penniless orphan, and made his ownway in the world. Early in life, he sought a job as a teacher, barely making ends meet, and lent what savings he had to a friend who was unable to repay him. He sent out requests for employment, and received a reply, but did not have the money to pay the postmaster to get it at the Post Office (mail was COD in those days). He worked as a farm and garden laborer to obtain this letter and obtained a job selling maps for a Philadelphia Company. From this point he saved up enough money to study law, and came to Bellefonte. Here, he entered into the real estate business, growing to a point where he bought and sold large quantities of property. He financed the Bush House and the Bush Arcade.

The Arcade first burned in the 1880s but was rebuilt in 1887 into the grand structure on W High Street today. The graves of Daniel G. and Louisa (Tomb) Bush are marked by a large granite obelisk in Union Cemetery, Bellefonte.

*Bush's portrait hung in the Bush House and is probably now destroyed. An engraving of it, however, was reproduced in Linn's History.

*There was a man, a town notable, who was in the employ of the Bush House. He stood at the Bellefonte train station and called out to passengers as they disembarked, "Walk ya' to the Bush House." There was fierce competition in those days between the Bush House, the Brockerhoff House, the Haag House, and other hotels for travelers and patrons.

*Thomas A. Edison stayed at the Bush House when he came to Bellefonte. This area had some of the first electricity in the nation. Under Edison's direction while staying in the area, the Episcopal Church in Philipsburg was the first church to have electic lights installed (1882).

*Gino Fornicola, known as "Mr. Bellefonte" and one-time mayor, acquired the Bush House in the 1960s or 1970s. He and his family massively renovated the structure, which had also been known as the Penn Belle Hotel in the 1930s.