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SRU Good News for March 28, 2012

Old Stone House rides again  

­– Slippery Rock University’s Old Stone House, a restored stagecoach inn and tavern, is featured in a documentary on YouTube and the Old Stone House and Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau websites.

Brett McGinnis, a former SRU student, directed and videotaped “The Old Stone House, Butler County, Pennsylvania.” McGinnis said he grew up near the 19th century inn and has always been intrigued with its history and lore.

“I’ve heard rumors that George Washington slept there, which are not true, and I have also heard it is haunted,” McGinnis said.

The Old Stone House, which operated from 1822-1885, provided stopover room and board for people traveling the stagecoach pike between Erie and Pittsburgh. Aaron Cowan, SRU professor of history, serves as curator. History majors, Civil War re-enactors and Native-American groups stage educational events at the site.

McGinnis said he started the documentary for a senior project at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After graduating, he expanded the video, even providing the narration.

“I pretty much did everything on this piece. I produced it, directed it, shot it and edited it – pretty much a one-man show,” he said. 

The 10-minute documentary covers the history and use of the house. He interviewed Cowan, assistant curator Jennifer Melnick, an SRU park and resource management graduate student from Butler, and docent Leah Rutledge, a music therapy major from St. Michael.

“I think he does a good job telling the story of the Old Stone House,” Cohan said. “We’ve never had a documentary filmed, and it is very well done. The production gives you a different perspective, and it gives you a little picture of activities and everyday life.”

McGinnis, who was profiled by the Butler Eagle this week, taped the exterior and interior of the two-story house and spliced images of re-enactors in period costumes playing cards and Civil War soldiers pitching camp to illustrate the flavor and color of history at the site.

After closing in 1885, the Old Stone House site was abandoned in 1918 and fell into ruin. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy restored the building in 1963. SRU acquired the house in 1999 and has served as administrator ever since. 

The documentary is at