The origin of the small town of Harmony, PA was based mainly on a Lutheran Separatist movement in late 1804. They began small settlements like Harmony all across southwestern Pennsylvania. Their communities lasted until 1814 when the Harmonists prepared to move to the state of Indiana and sold their land for cheap to the Mennonites in the area. Both of these groups were peaceful in nature and the Mennonites last hold on the land was when their church closed up permanently in the early 1900’s. Even though these areas were peaceful, the Civil War still hit them economically and altered the landscape through businesses and the needs/wants of the local community. This directly led to the rise and fall of the mansion that is now known as the Harmony Inn. With the long history and the regularity of interchanging businesses within the Harmony Inn, it’s no wonder why the local clientele aren’t the only patrons returning to enjoy the restaurant and craft beer house.
Even though it is a recognized and popular restaurant and bar today, the Harmony Inn began as a private residence’s mansion when it was first constructed. Austin Pearce was a wealthy banker, railroad executive, and mill operator before the Civil War. In 1856, he contracted the building of his two-story, Italianate stylized brick mansion in the small town of Harmony, PA. This structure included the first indoor plumbing in the area and included a full basement and attic.
Austin Pierce and his wife enjoyed the serenity and beauty of their home for nearly ten years. During this time, Austin’s family grew with the birth of a girl and a boy. During the second birth, his wife passed away from significant blood loss. He was forced to raise his children and run his businesses on his own. Austin did hire an elderly nanny to watch the children but more often than not she just sat in her rocking chair on the second floor and watched the scouring Harmonites hurry here and there.
In the early 1860’s, his nanny contracted tuberculosis and died in the rear room of the mansion. Without great knowledge of the disease, or how to prevent its’ spreading, Austin hired a few local hands and had her buried behind a brick wall in that very room in hopes of keeping the disease locked inside. Unfortunately, both of Austin Pierce’s children contracted the horrid disease. He did not want to give up hope for them so he quarantined them in the upstairs room, locking them inside so they could not spread the disease further. In less than two months, they too perished inside the mansion. Austin fell into a deep depression that ultimately cost him his home and his business.
Following the Civil War, the railroad businesses throughout the north began failing. Austin Pearce lost the majority of his fortune during this sudden recession and he was forced to sell his home. The Ziegler family purchased the property in the late 1870’s from Mr. Pearce and they immediately began renovations. The Zielgers were not interested in utilizing the mansion in the same way as Austin Pearce; instead, they envisioned a business opportunity. The mansion was transitioned into a hotel and saloon. Again, the building was ahead of the curve and became one of the first businesses with an official business license in the region. The Zeiglers appropriately changed the building’s name to the Ziegler Hotel. In 1900, with the increased popularity of the Ziegler Hotel, the family added a full two story wing expansion.
In the early 20th century, the Zieglers sold their hotel and the structure began to take on different forms with every new owner. The Harmony Inn transitioned through different functions and used as a meeting house, boarding home, stable, and a bar/restaurant. During these evolutions, name changes also occurred. The owners and businesses changed the Ziegler Hotel into the Manor House and the Harmony Hilton.
Finally finding a consistent owner and business practice, the Harmony Inn was purchased by Gary Barnes and Carl Beers in 1985. The business partners began a long and tedious restoration process. They had the building stripped of all current and modern upgrades and took the mansion back to its’ original grandeur. They opened a German-based restaurant and began the first craft beer breweries in the suburban Pittsburgh area. They used both the first and second floor for dining areas. On one side of the ground floor, they added a tavern area, which is long and narrow that boasts original hardwood and handcrafted ornate woodwork. Upstairs are smaller, more secluded dining rooms and private party rooms.The pair officially changed the name to Harmony Inn.
After enjoying a long and successful business venture, Barnes and Beers sold the Harmony Inn to the married couple of Bob and Jodi McCafferty in 2013. They continue the restaurant and brewery in Harmony, PA to this day.
There is so much activity throughout the restaurant that it’s tough to identify any of the entities. During the lifetime of the Harmony Inn, between visitors and owners, it is very hard to say who would return to this place after death. So many individuals have entered through the Harmony Inns’ doors ever since it’s’ inception in 1856. Even before being purchased by Gary Barnes and Carl Beers in 1985, the location was actually said to be one of the most haunted spots in Pennsylvania. Guests to the former hotel claimed that lights would flicker and feel cold bursts of air rush past them- even during the warm summer months. The strangest occurrences were that of levitating and moving objects. Guests even had their names called from vacant rooms from time to time.
Many of the employees, including the owners, feel a peaceful and relaxed apparition that likes to help out and guard the premises. These feelings come in the form of warmth and just a friendly presence that helps keep the employees and visitors upbeat and happy. The sense is that this is more than just a spirit, instead, a guardian of both the living and dead. The true identity of this guardian is unknown, but it has very much made itself well known at the Harmony Inn.
Another presence that is felt at the restaurant has been identified. His name is Barney. Barney is one of multiple tragedies that occurred at the Harmony Inn. He stumbled down the main staircase breaking his neck in the process. Barney was hospitalized but passed away off-site. It has been said that Barney is a trickster and will move and hide bar items. He doesn’t want to cause trouble and, if asked, Barney will return the items just as quickly as they went missing. He has also been said to rearrange furniture throughout the former mansion when no one else is in the building or on the premises. He has been said to be felt as a cold gust of air moving past bartenders and felt to just be sitting back and watching patrons and employees alike.
There was also a young girl who died at the Harmony Inn back in the late 1800’s. This girl, still nameless to this day, was said to be both physically and mentally handicapped. Supposedly, she was the daughter of one of the Zeigler family members. This young girl passed away much too young without living a full and happy life. There have been noises coming from the upper floors of thumping or banging on the floor itself. These noises are related to similar sounds of a cane or crutch slamming into the floor. This girl has also been said to manipulate both electrical devices and the power in the Harmony Inn. Lights tend to flicker and shut on and off at a whim when this girl is felt in the building.
Both of Austin Pierce’s children have been heard giggling up in the attic and footsteps can be heard pitter-pattering around when the attic is locked up with no one else around or having access for that matter. Black, sooty handprints have been spotted and rumored to be the children still playing in the afterlife. The attic door will open and close on its’ own with no apparent breeze to blow it open or employee around to open or close it.
The nanny who began the tuberculosis outbreak in the Harmony Inn has been heard walking around in the rear room and cries and moans have been heard echoing from inside the room. She has also been spotted looking out the front windows as she used to when she was babysitting Austin Pierce’s children.
One of the more well-known entities in the Harmony Inn is that of the mysterious mirror man. This apparition of a man has been seen in mirrors throughout the restaurant including: bathrooms, the bar mirror, or even a woman’s compact mirror. This same apparition has been recorded as a dark mist gliding throughout the upstairs hallways. One locally famous photograph resides on the stairwell wall of the Harmony Inn clearly picturing this vain entity.
Some businesses do not like to acknowledge the existence of any type of spirit or ghost in their building thinking that it may scare away their clientele. However, the current owners and employees like to share their own stories and promote their other worldly visitors.
Before becoming an owner, and only working as a bartender in 2000, Bob McCafferty remembers a particular incident while alone in the bar. While cleaning empty glasses, Bob noticed objects flying past him, very nearly clipping the top of his head. After recovering from the fright, Bob analyzed the object was a handful of coins. To this day he still claims that the coins appeared from thin air and even flew at him right through the wall.
The coin toss was not his only experience. While swapping out kegs in the basement, Bob felt a dark and eerie presence simply watching him. As he spun around, he noted a black shadow in the form of a tall man. As he departed the basement, Bob felt a cold finger drag down his spine. He rushed out of the room and has documented that he did not feel safe and that he had the sixth sense that the entity was no good.
Other employees have also had their own paranormal experiences. One of the bartenders was locked into the bathroom when no one else was around, only to be released when a co-worker also needed to use the restroom. A server has reported the sounds of a vacuum cleaner running on the upstairs floors as well as a noise of furniture sliding across the hardwood floors when no employee was cleaning. Due to these housekeeping activities occurring quite often to the staff, they have dubbed this entity Louie. Louie was the very first innkeeper during the mansion’s early existence.