The Hostetter House
The Hostetter House, once known as the Hostetter Mansion, was built in the late 1890s. Theodore R. Hostetter, who inherited a fortune from his father’s manufacture of “Hostetter’s Bitters”, purchased 196 acres of land from the Potter/Braden families in 1892 and 69 acres from Joseph Allen, Jr. in 1893. In the late 1890s, Hostetter built a 25-bedroom home that was a replica of the California State Building that was on exhibit at Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. The mansion was made of California redwood and at least one board from every state in the Union. Hostetter’s property also included a polo field, three barns for their horses, a house for the tenant, and a nine-hole golf course.
The Hostetters lived in Pittsburgh, but used the country mansion as a summer home and a venue for parties. It has been said that while she was a guest in the Hostetter Mansion, Mary Roberts Rhinehart conceived the idea for and wrote her classic novel, “The Circular Staircase”.
Theodore Hostetter died on August 3, 1902, leaving D. Herbert Hostetter, a relative, as guardian of the estate, his widow, and his two minor children, Greta and Theodore Jr. On August 1, 1903, the land was given entirely to his children and then sold to J. Walter Hay on December 5, 1905. The property was placed on Public Auction and sold to the Allegheny Trust Company of Pittsburgh on September 14, 1912. Mr. Robert Strouck and his wife were hired to look after the bank’s interest. They were paid $10.00 per month and received free rent to stay in a small house and use one of the barns.
Gladys Hoover, head of the Aliquippa High School drama department, held a party in the deserted mansion in the fall of 1934. The Hostetter House was reopened with the help of members of the club and the consent of the caretaker. Late in August of 1936, the Hostetter House caught on fire and was completely destroyed. The Allegheny Trust Company sold the estate to the Defense Plant Corporation (created by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, or RFC) in 1942. Then, RFC sold a large section of the land to Koppers Company in 1946.