The Union Hotel in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has a long and fascinating history. The two-story “Sign of the Buck” tavern and roadhouse opened its doors in 1804 to accommodate those traveling to the western frontier of Pennsylvania and the wilds beyond. The hotel was known as the Union Hotel when war came to Gettysburg’s door and the building served as a hospital for wounded soldiers as the smoke cleared in town. In 1888, a third and fourth floor were added to the hotel—then named the City Hotel—in order to house veterans of the Civil War who returned to Gettysburg for the 25th anniversary of the battle.
Though the establishment has gone by almost a dozen different monikers over the years, its newest owners, Leslie Trew Magraw and Andrew Johnson, thought the Union Hotel fit their vision best. Throughout the 20th century, the building has been used for various purposes—as a hotel, boarding house, apartment building, youth hostel—and at one time or another has housed a tavern, pharmacy, barbershop, bowling alley, and art gallery on its first floor.
The local couple bought the Union Hotel in August 2019 and quickly got to work on renovations. Though they could have never guessed that a pandemic was around the corner, it turns out 2020 was an ideal time to bring new life to the historic hotel. The couple are currently developing the first floor into a full bar and restaurant. They plan to call the establishment the Sign of the Buck, bringing the property full circle to its 1804 roots.
The Union Hotel property had been through so many different owners by the time Leslie and Andrew purchased it, the Wi-Fi consisted of a mishmash of residential equipment and extenders that just couldn’t do the job.
When structural and aesthetic renovations were complete in April 2021, the owners debuted 12 new luxury suites with names intended to honor people who helped to preserve the Union—such as Thaddeus Stevens, Elizabeth Thorn, Lloyd Watts, Company K. The largest and most impressive suite is named for Abraham Lincoln. For Magraw, who serves on the board of the Adams County Historical Society, showcasing the property’s unique and storied history was of vital importance. “We are honored to be counted among a long line of stewards of this beautiful building,” she says.
The upgraded suites have attracted visitors from all over the country, including Washington, D.C. For the business, political, and professional clientele staying at Union Hotel, fast and reliable Wi-Fi was crucial. And though guests were enthusiastic about the updated rooms, and lavished the hotel with glowing reviews, more than a few noted a weak Wi-Fi connection. The owners decided a technology upgrade was in order to bring the hotel up to the modern standards most travelers now expect.