The Stone House Restaurant and Country Inn, located in Pennsylvania's scenic Laurel Mountains, is proud to continue a time-honored tradition of fine dining and rest for the weary traveler. One of the original wayside inns along the National Road, the Stone House first opened its doors in 1822 to wagoners and travelers seeking renewed health in the waters of nearby Fayette Springs. Ever since those early days, the Stone House has been regarded by travelers and locals alike as a charming getaway for fine dining and good times in a peaceful mountain setting.
The "Stone House" (formerly Fayette Springs Hotel), was built as a resort in 1822 by the Honorable Andrew Stewart. Stewart was a politician, statesman, and local land baron who rode the wave of prosperity brought on with the opening of the National Road in 1818 which is present day U.S. Route 40 in southwestern PA. The historic construction of the National Road or dirt-surface "Old Pike" was undertaken from 1811 to 1818, with surveying and supervision by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and actual work done by local contractors. Among these local contractors was Abraham Stewart, the father of the man who would one day build the Stone House. While in the process of road construction, Abraham unearthed the remains of the famous colonial general Edward Braddock, who had died of a fatal wound some 60 years earlier following one of the battles of the French and Indian War. Abraham reinterred the bones of Braddock in the spot along Route 40 which remains the present-day burial site, with his young son Andrew as witness.
Andrew Stewart was born in 1791 in German Township and was raised here in the Laurel Mountains. In his teens he taught in a local school and began to study law. He was admitted to the Fayette County Bar in 1815, and thereafter to the General Assembly. Stewart was appointed U.S. District Attorney by President Monroe, an office he resigned in 1820 to accept a seat in Congress. A few years later, he won reelection over his opponent, Mr. Clevenger, with the free and abundant distribution of watermelons to voters. During his years of public service, Stewart was acquainted with such luminaries as John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren and Abraham Lincoln. He served as Congressman for 18 years. He was an early proponent of railroad transportation in Pennsylvania, and worked hard toward the maintenance of the National Road, earning himself the nickname "Old Tariff Andy" along the way. But for an improper procedure during the Philadelphia Convention of 1848, Stewart would have been nominated Vice President of the United States and might well have gone on to the Presidency. Millard Fillmore was selected as the Vice Presidential candidate instead, and went on to assume the office of President when Zachary Taylor died during his term.
With the opening of the Old Pike, taverns, wagon roads, and inns began to proliferate along the road to serve the needs of travelers. Nightly musical entertainment and traveling minstrel shows featuring such performers as Jenny Lind became popular. An added attraction to visitors on Summit Mountain was a natural outdoor spring known as "Fayette Springs," the waters of which were thought to have curative powers. A Fayette Springs Hotel soon opened adjacent to the spring to serve early lodging needs, but the building has long since vanished. Andrew Stewart recognized the need for a new and improved hotel nearby the spring on a somewhat grander scale than the one-story original structure.
The new two-story stone Fayette Springs Hotel opened in 1822. The resort was no run-of-the-mill wagoner's tavern, but a fine restaurant with top fiddlers that entertained on weekends, a ten pin alley, billiards, a porch swing, and dancing into the wee hours. From the start, this rowdy inn attracted an enthusiastic following, particularly the young people of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, who must have endured an arduous journey along the rough and rutted mountain Pike to reach it. Fayette Springs Hotel was only one of many successful real estate enterprises undertaken by Andrew Stewart, who purchased over 80,000 acres of prime Fayette County land during his lifetime. Among Stewart's holdings were valuable business properties in downtown Uniontown (the former "Stewart's Row"), and 200 acres of land in Ohiopyle, which was then known as Falls City. After Stewart's death at the age of 81 in 1872, his sons continued to build in Falls City, they constructed two hotels, and many homes which are still occupied today
Titlow, George Flavius
Hotel "Baron" George Flavius Titlow was a grandson of Henry Beeson, one of Uniontown's founders. Born in Uniontown during the Civil War, George began working with his father in general merchandise at age 18. He was later hired as manager of the Hotel Marietta in Connellsville, PA. Seven years later, Titlow purchased the first of several hotel properties he would own. His first acquired property was the Jennings House in Uniontown, purchased for the exorbitant sum of $40,000 and sold after remodeling at a $50,000 profit. Titlow went on to purchase the Frost House on West Main Street and began to found his fortune, eventually acquiring the entire block. He then built the Hotel Titlow in 1906, one of the most luxurious of hotels in Western Pennsylvania during this era, and the meeting place of powerful coal and coke barons who were friends of Titlow's.
The business and polictical pressures of "downtown" life eventually began to wear on George and his family, and in 1909 he purchased the Fayette Springs Hotel as a weekend and summer getaway home. Titlow closed the doors of the Fayette Springs Hotel to the public and began remodeling the then nearly century-old house, adding a huge addition and a wraparound stone porch along its front and sides. The family eventually added an in-ground swimming pool and often held large parties and reunions on its side lawn.
George finally sold the Hotel Titlow in 1922 during the Prohibition era, saying, "You can't run a hotel without spirits." He still owned the Stone House at the time of his death in 1940. Later the house was run by a series of keepers as a restaurant called the "Stone House," and "The Farmer's Daughter."
Throughout the years, the Stone House remained a popular hangout for young people. General George C. Marshall, native of Fayette County, recalled in his remarks at the dedication of Fort Necessity in 1954 that when he was a young man he and his friends would go to the old Stone House Restaurant for Chicken and Dumplings - the best he ever tasted, he said.
The next owner of the Stone House was Fanny Ross, originally of Cardale, PA. She was of Italian descent and exceptional culinary skill. Fanny had visited the Stone House during UMWA meetings in 1932 and 1933, and came away much impressed with the building and its potential. When the house was put up for sale in 1963, Fanny jumped at the chance to own it and placed a down payment on the purchase on the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Fanny operated the Stone House as an Italian restaurant for 31 years, rising daily at 6 am to make pasta, sauce, and bake fresh bread. In partnership with Gene Cardine, Fanny's Stone House once again became a restaurant of great renown, noted among both tourists and locals for its unique sauces, fresh breads, delightful homemade Roquefort Dressing and Strawberry Shortcake. When Cardine passed on in 1974, Fanny and her son Carl Ross continued the restaurant's tradition of quality and consistency.
In 1995, Fanny closed the restaurant due to ill health, but her remarkable reign as the little Italian woman with a grand culinary talent will remain a delicious part of Stone House history. She will be remembered as a true asset to the local community.
Zeigler III, Frederick F.
In 1996 local businessman Fred F. Zeigler, III embarked upon a joint venture to restore the Stone House to its origins in character and appearance. As extensive renovations were conducted, every opportunity was taken to restore original elements of the building to modern function, while re-establishing the early 1820's style atmosphere which existed at the time the Stone House was a distinctive wayfarer's inn along the original National Pike.
Critchfield, Jeremy W.
November of 2011 a "just by chance" conversation took place between owner Fred Zeigler and Chef Jeremy Critchfield about life, world events and what the Stone House could be. The two had met several times during Critchfield's ten years previously living in Farmington while working as the executive chef at nearby Nemacolin Woodlands Resort but had lost touch when Critchfield moved away to work as vice president of food & beverage at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. Having spent over 20 years in the kitchens of five star resorts and restaurants all over the country Critchfield was ready for a change. The timing and opportunity to finally settle his family here in Chalk hill was perfect. He had often patronized the Stone House and had always imagined what it might be like to own it. Their conversation continued and grew over that winter and then solidified in a great partnership. In March 2012 chef Critchfield joined Mr. Zeigler as the operating partner and chef for the Stone House. Today they are continuing to write this newest chapter in the Stone House's history.