The Hotel Belvedere

The Hotel Belvedere was built in 1905 by Joseph Gianini who was born in Switzerland in 1852.  He immigrated to the United States and ended up in Apollo.  He built the hotel in 1905 and named it “Belvedere” which means “Beautiful view” in Italian. 

The Belvedere was situated across the railroad tracks from the West Apollo Railroad Station.  This was perfect because of the large number of passengers traveling on the rails. 

“The hotel’s heyday was in the early 1900s, when passenger trains stopped across from the hotel,”  according to Alan Morgan of Apollo,  secretary of the Apollo Area Historical Society. “The last train of the day, known as the “bummer,” pulled in at 12:45 a.m.  Not all on the ‘bummer’ were able — or wanted — to go home, so they stayed at the hotel,” Morgan said.

West Apollo Rail Road Station 1916
The Hotel Belvedere celebrating Apollo’s Centennial in 1916. Joseph Gianini is pictured on the left in front of the door.

The first floor of the Belvedere hotel had a candy shop and ice cream parlor.  Over the years the area became a bar.  The upper floors were used as guest rooms, but eventually became apartments.  The hotel was often called the Tin Hut because of the beautiful tin ceilings and tin on the walls.  The rooms also had large fireplaces and detailed wood baseboards and trim.

As passenger trains became obsolete, the train depot was torn down and there was no need for a large hotel there, especially when the roads were widened and there was no parking available.

The years have not been kind to the old building.  The owner, Lanna Planitzer, who bought the place in 1979, had hopes of restoring it, but it was much too expensive and needed too much work.  Ms. Planitzer lived there until July 2017 when the building was condemned and she had to leave.

The hotel today.

Thank you to Alan Morgan, AAHS Secretary for his information and to the late John Gibson for his article in the Valley News Dispatch from the 1970’s.

Hotel Belvedere Comes To A Sad End Tuesday, July 23, 2019

PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (1/7)
PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (2/7)
PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (3/7)
PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (4/7)
PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (5/7)
PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (6/7)
PHOTOS: Fire destroys historic Belvedere Hotel - (7/7)

Here is a link to an article about the removal of the Belvedere.

25 thoughts on “The Hotel Belvedere

    • kimberly jamhawi July 24, 2019 / 11:11 pm

      Was there any comment from the owner?arson?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lonnie Breisch July 24, 2019 / 1:47 am

    It is now gone forever. So sad to see it end in a massive fire instead of being restored.


  2. Sherry sabatino July 24, 2019 / 10:23 am

    So sad to see it gone. I never thought coming through there half hour before the fire started that it be the last time I saw it. The history of hotel was amazing as I was intrigued by it 4 years ago when I moved here. It was Apollo’s staple landmark. When people come through there it’s the 1st thing they saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Randy D McAdoo July 24, 2019 / 12:29 pm

    I agree with all of the above !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David Walker July 24, 2019 / 5:06 pm

    Was way past restoring

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Claudette Wood July 24, 2019 / 9:11 pm

    Would love to read an historical book about this hotel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe (Jim) Kerr July 27, 2019 / 8:30 am

      I doubt that a book would be much of a read. Just about the only history of any worth reading was mentioned above. Regardless, farewell to a once grand building.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy Sue July 18, 2022 / 5:02 pm

        I thnk this hotel would be a great backdrop for an historical fiction about the immigrants that lived nearby in Paulton and the other surrounding areas.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. K Galagaza July 24, 2019 / 10:35 pm

    It may have been past restoring, but it was still a striking beauty. So sad to see her fall. Too many memories are being lost

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mary Ann Monski July 24, 2019 / 11:30 pm

    This historic hotel reminds me of the 1960 TV series Petticoat Junction. A beautiful hotel and train. Very sad ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tracie Bloom July 25, 2019 / 6:19 am

    A large conversation piece is gone from Our small towns. Everyone knew what you were talking about when you said the building built into the hillside. The uniqueness was incredible. What a beautiful tribute to the Hotel. 😔🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jack Foy July 25, 2019 / 7:47 am

    Living in Apollo as a child and then going back for weekends to visit my Grandpatents The Foys and the Shanks. The Belvedere was always a place of interest and a place my imagination was free to roam.
    The Town of Apollo has changed so much over the years. I have watched Apollo loose some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen in the name of progress. The Belvedere was lost to fire. I know it was too far gone to be restored. It is sad to see it gone but probably better that it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. patricia foster July 25, 2019 / 8:25 am

    My family the Fosters lived there in the late 1950s. My sister and I feel like we lost a friend but she went down in glory.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tammy Pasterick June 4, 2020 / 5:36 pm

    I never realized how unique my hometown of Apollo was until I left Western Pennsylvania shortly after my college graduation. Plenty of towns in the Rust Belt have crumbling hotels, churches, and once-grand mansions in desperate need of repair, but no structure has ever sparked my imagination quite like the Hotel Belvedere. I actually included it in my forthcoming novel. I reimagined it as a run-down boarding house full of immigrants in a Pennsylvania steel town at the turn of 20th century. I never did get a chance to peek inside the hotel, so I’m extremely grateful to have found your photos. Thank you so much for sharing the hotel’s history!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. David Illar June 22, 2022 / 5:34 am

    In my many years of living in the Apollo area, every day I would pass this place, and I never knew, that July 22nd, would be my last viewing. My dad went there in the 90’s to go play some billiards.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kelly Weimer December 25, 2022 / 5:59 pm

    So sad too see it IT true as it was burning, IT was seen in The flames of every window there were ghost?? I’m looking at a picture on my phone and that’s what I am seeing.

    Liked by 1 person

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