The House That Beer Built

The "house" [as I always knew it] sat at the edge of a tiny mountain town called Dushore, in north-central Pennsylvania. As the story goes - my great grandfather owned a beer garden that local miners would visit to wash down the coal dust. Eventually the mines closed, but the miners still came for drinks. They'd tell my great-grandfather to "put it on my bill." The bills got too big, and so he told them "One dalla a day and onea meal. You helpa me build!" The new building went up in 1935 beside the building that housed the beer garden. The two structures were connected in 1937.

This is where my father was born and raised. It's where my grandmother lived to a ripe old age, and it's where the best parts of my childhood were spent - in the house that beer built.

It was huge - the photo doesn't do it justice. The second story of the main part of the building had full apartments. Four or five of them I believe. The third story was a big creepy attic inhabited by dead bugs. Those poor suckers would somehow get up there and find no way out... ick.

The ground floor was divided into all sorts of sections. On the far left was a huge dance hall that later served as home to "The Red Door Store." Next to that was a mammoth living room with bedrooms behind it. From there, things get nutty until you reach the original smaller structure on the right. This section housed many tenants through the years - including a beer distributor, a church, a health club, an arts & crafts store.

Next door to the house was a junk yard and a saw mill. There was also a time in the 70's when someone was living in a trailer parked in the back yard. Oh geez, this just gets better and better, doesn't it?

But for me, as a child, this was bliss.

For a variety of reasons, I never had the same address more than two years in a row. This - my grandmother's house - was the closest thing to a home I ever knew as a kid. My life was chaos, but the house was always there when I could get to town to visit for a weekend or an entire summer.

As the years passed, the house became mostly empty. My grandfather passed away in the 1970's. Residents of the apartments upstairs either died or moved away. The children [my father & his siblings] left and had families of their own. By the 80's, only my grandmother remained in that huge huge home. Walls would be built here and torn down there to make the space more suitable for one person. No longer need this extra bathroom? Panel along the wall, covering the door. It's soon forgotten. Many rooms disappeared that way.

Making the house even more bizarre was the fact that it was actually two buildings combined into one. This created rooms with walls at crazy angles and hallways that were narrow at one end and wide at the other.

Character was something this house had plenty of.

When the rest of the family would come to visit for holidays and such, we mostly stayed in the older part of the building [on the right]. Here too, things were odd. The upstairs - where the grandchildren stayed - was a huge space carpeted in throw rugs and divided by walls of cloth stapled to the ceiling. It's hilarious to think about it now, but as a child it was all I knew. Isn't every grandmother's home just like this?

My grandmother was the center of the family in the way that only a beloved grandparent can be. When she passed away in the early 90's, most of the real family traditions passed away with her, and the house fell further into disrepair as no one was living in it.

Yesterday, my uncle emailed to say that he'd turned the property over to someone else. Sadly, I have no doubts that it was time. His note was rather brief - I'm sure that's because he was sad to see our family history in Dushore come to an end.

There was a lot of love on that property. Yearly graduation celebrations out front, birthdays under the apple tree, summers on the swingset that stood out back. We'd head out for a day of picking cherries, strawberries or blueberries and return to take a swim in a nearby creek. This was the best of my childhood.

I wonder if the house still stands?

::::: | Tuesday, May 25 2004 at 12:31 PM
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Daniel said:

well...that house does still stand....i live in mildred which is right next to dushore....it may not be in as good as shape in the pic but its there....it is inhabited by a used furniture store and some local tennants(apartment renters)

::::: | June 30, 2005 8:33 AM

TheBob said:

The Red Door.. The furniture store is gone now, I believe, looks like they auctioned off the contents a couple weeks ago. There is some sort of art gallery on the end. Back in the 70's, there was a youth club in there. Mostly, the place is in sore need of either a fix up, or the fire department. The talk of the town is, the firemen have three big fears, when the fire whistle blows. It will either be the Hotel, Battin's Garage or The Red Door. Either one of those would be fit to take out the whole block.

::::: | November 17, 2007 1:59 PM

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