The Senate Hotel-Harrisburg

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.


2 thoughts on “The Senate Hotel-Harrisburg

  1. Thank you so much for your article and sharing your knowledge. I am doing an adaptive reuse school project with the William Penn High School and wanted to revive the name and this was very useful to me. Thank You

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