The Point View Hotel, which for years was an historic landmark on Brownsville Road in Brentwood, was built as early as the 1820s or possibly earlier. If it was still around today, the inn would be about two centuries years old.
The Point View was small by today’s standards. Eight rooms were available for overnight visitors who traveled Brownsville Road on their way to and from Pittsburgh. At a time when Brownsville Road was a major thoroughfare in America and a common way to travel to Pittsburgh, many important people stayed at the inn.
One room at the Point View was called the President’s Room. No sitting U.S. President stayed there, although three future presidents booked rooms at the inn – Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor and James Buchanan.
General Andrew Jackson arrived on horseback and spent the night at the Point View in the late 1820s during his first campaign to be president. Jackson was a wealthy man who positioned himself as an advocate of the common man. As a military leader, he destroyed communities of escaped slaved in Florida. He enslaved human beings on properties he owned. He hated the people who wanted to abolish slavery.
The inn where Andrew Jackson stayed on his way into Pittsburgh during his presidential campaign became a station on the Underground Railroad, which existed to help enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War led to the end of slavery.
Based on documents the foundation has seen, we believe the building did serve as a stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1850s.
Louise Sturgess of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, quoted in the Post-Gazette in 2007
Slaves who had freed themselves stayed for a short while in the Point View’s basement. The basement connected to tunnels that were part of the Underground Railroad system. After leaving the inn, runaway slaves may have melted into Pittsburgh’s active African-American community or, more likely, continued onto Canada.
The Point View was a family-owned inn. It was sold through five families during its existence. It came to be a bar and restaurant, and not used as an inn. An indoor kitchen was added along with a bar. Those and other renovations over the years irrevocably altered the inn, blocking it from being officially designated as an historic landmark.
One thing that didn’t change was the dirt floor of the basement, which at one time harbored people seeking freedom.
In the 2000s, the historic inn-turned-bar-and-restaurant was demolished to make way for a medical building. Once it was determined that the building couldn’t be restored to its historical state, the only holdup to tearing it down was whether there would be enough parking for new building.
Years later, an ornament featuring the Point View Hotel was made available as a fundraiser for the Brentwood Park Initiative. The drawing on the ornament was done by Tom Yochum, who lived in Brentwood. The ornament was crafted regionally at Wendell August Forge.
The Point View Hotel made its mark on history and passed into it.