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.