For many years on Market Square stood two hotels geared toward the individual and not for families or conventions-the Warner Hotel was for the Democrats and the Senate Hotel for the Republicans. Both hotels were constantly busy until the mid-60s. At that time, there was urban unrest and motels were springing up in the suburbs. Both places lost business and became welfare or low income hotels.
The Warner Hotel was on Second Street just north of Market Square. Charles Dickens, in 1842, mentioned this place in his American Notes. Its name was the Boulton Hotel. I wrote about this in a previous article. Developers tore down the Hotel 1987 for a parking lot for the Harrisburg Hilton next door. There was nothing unique about the Warner Hotel and it was a blight in Center City.
By contrast, the outside of the Senate Hotel had gothic type architecture, large metal letters reading Horse Shoe Bar, and a beer diorama. The set ups for these displays were horse carriages and other signs depicting the trademarks of the brew. Over the years, the window showed Miller’s, Budweiser, and Schiltz Beer. Inside was that long Horse Shoe Bar which served several brands of draft beer. Pictures of State Senators over time were all over the walls. The restaurant had a one piece sheet for lunch but did not serve dinner. On a far corner, a small elevated plaform had what looked a piano with a leather cover. This was from bygone days when the bar had live entertainment.
Boise Penrose had a suite on the very top of the hotel. He often ordered five martinis and huge turkey for dinner. The Senate Hotel closed its doors for good in 1987. The building is now a bank but with the beautiful gothic exterior intact.
There were other hotels from the Harrisburg of years gone by.