Vacant Motel Coming Down
Murrysville’s landmark Blue Spruce Motel on Route 22 will be demolished at the end of this month.
“Basically, it’s going to be a flat piece of land,” said Hallie Chatfield, revitalization coordinator at the Westmoreland Redevelopment Authority. The organization is funding the demolition contract awarded to A.W. McNabb LLC of Burgettstown. Ms. Chatfield said the $56,800 grant for the work comes from a federal Community Development Block Grant.
Work that will result in the demise of the motel, pool, pool house and beverage area was originally scheduled to start Monday, but the necessary equipment was unavailable, said Ms. Chatfield. A.W. McNabb is contracted to complete the work within 90 days.
“They will first need to do an internal clean-out before they can demolish it,” said Ms. Chatfield who noted the outside probably wouldn’t be coming down for two more weeks.
In 1956, Camille Naffah purchased the five-acre property for $7,500 and tore down the original structure, the ’40s-era John’s Motel. In its place, he built the Blue Spruce, a single-level motel with clean, simple architecture. In the summer, the large public pool attracted locals from surrounding communities.
Stuart Patz remembered coming out to swim as a high school and college student from his Stanton Heights home in the late 1950s and early 1960s when there were few other public pool options.
“All the kids from the East End were there. It was very pleasant and a nice, social thing. I have such great memories, a real nostalgic feeling toward the facility,” said Mr. Patz, now living in Washington, D.C.
In the mid-’80s, a second level, a restaurant and bar were added to the structure. Mr. Naffah lived in an apartment above the motel’s lobby.
In 1996, the aging motel gained brief local notoriety as a location for the movie, “Kingpin,” with Woody Harrelson.
“They really fixed it up, repainted the outside pink and blue,” said John Cardwell, executive director of the Murrysville Economic and Community Development Corporation.
For several years, the property has been vacant, with the paint in the abandoned pool increasingly chipping.
“The motel closed about four years ago. The pool probably has been closed for 10-plus years,” Mr. Cardwell said.
Mr. Naffah tried unsuccessfully to sell his motel in 2005 before his death in 2007. He left the property to his employee, Emily Moroney, who also died that same year.
Currently, the Blue Spruce is part of the estate of Ms. Moroney, which approved the demolition in hopes of making the property more attractive to developers, Mr. Cardwell said.
Right now, there are no plans for the land, which includes a one-acre “banner parklet” adjacent to the Blue Spruce. It is also for sale with the property and is owned by the development corporation.
“I think there is a vision that is consistent with the streetscape study done in the ’90s,” Mr. Cardwell said.
That vision includes small shops and offices.