Say Goodbye to The Main

A cultural institution in Carnegie will soon disappear.  The Main Hotel is about 110 years old.  It wasn’t the only boarding house in Carnegie, but it is the best known and most remembered.  It really represents another era— one that is foreign to us today.  When you rented a room at The Main, you rented a room, literally.  A bed, dresser, and nightstand.  The bathroom was at the end of the hall and shared by everyone on the floor.  You could rent a room by day, week, or month.  There was a restaurant on the first floor.

We think back to traveling salesman, temp workers, and the occasional relative visiting from out of town— all within walking distance of their business here in Carnegie.  And if the walk was a little too far, the streetcar conveniently stopped right in front of the hotel.  We even utilized it here at the shul.  When guest cantors would come in for High Holidays, they would stay at The Main.  What could be more convenient than a hotel across the street from the shul.

But those days are passed.  In its last decades, The Main was turned into low rent apartments.  But the restaurant continued to flourish and was still a favorite of ours up until about 10 years ago.  It was around that time that new owners came in, and representing the worst trait in business people, sucked the value out of the restaurant and declared bankruptcy.  Then in September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan sealed the fate of The Main.  It would now cost too much to restore the facility.

A couple days ago, CVS Pharmacy signed the real estate agreements and as you can see, fences have been put up around the block to prepare for demolition.  I took this picture from the roof of the shul this morning as the sun was coming up.  Just about everything in view will be torn down.  The store will be located in the background, at the current location of the hotel and the house next to it.  The houses in the foreground will be razed to make the parking lot.  Yes, it will be a large store.

As Carnegie struggles to define its future, we make earnest efforts to save the parts of history that we can, and modernize where we have to.  This will always be a balancing act.



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5 Responses to Say Goodbye to The Main

  1. Cool photo! I couldn’t figure it out until I enlarged it–we’re looking at the back of the Main and those two houses are on Chestnut.

    Thanks for remembering its history as a boarding house, something looked upon with disdain to those few who even understand the concept, though it was a common and respected way to live in the early industrial age.

    Everybody in my family talked about the Main Hotel, and I think a lot of us with memories of eating there have been, in some small part of our memorieis, waiting for someone to come along and reopen the restaurant so we could continue our memories. The security of a common meeting place along with a kitchen that made really basic food that anyone could relate to will be missed by all of us who remember.

  2. Rick, you are becoming Carnegie’s Story Teller/Historian. Keep it up!

    I only came to Carnegie 8 years ago. So the Main was already a thing of the past. But in my role at the Library & Music Hall — another 110 year old building, but one with a bright future — people tell me so much about the Carnegie history. I’ve heard about wedding receptions at the Main, etc.

    The CVS will be a good thing for Carnegie. And the Main’s life has run its course. But thanks for the eulogy. It’s good to live in a storied town, and it’s good to have someone such as you noting and sharing our history.

  3. Larry Block


    You do have a gift for writing! What a phenomenal enterprise this is that has taken shape under your care and ministration, the development of a shul web site that chronicles life in Carnegie.


  4. Paul Lederstein

    You’ve done it again. You’re like the Jack Bogut of Carnegie-a GREAT story teller. I remember the Main Hotel for the good restaurant that it was and where I always waited for my ride back home from Hebrew School. Keep up the fine leadership at the Shul. You’re a good man!!!

  5. rick

    Today is 25MAY. Most of the buildings have been razed. Supposedly, they are going to start pulling down The Main Hotel today, but I haven’t seen any action yet this morning.

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