PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A blaze blamed on an electrical malfunction gutted the historic Century Inn, which has hosted such notables as former U.S. Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Polk, Pennsylvania State Police said on Tuesday.
Police said no one was injured at the bed-and-breakfast, which is typically closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, according to its website.
The inn, built in 1794 and located in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania, 45 miles south of Pittsburgh, caught fire just before midnight on Monday, police said.
It took firefighters from nine departments to extinguish the flames by 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to state police.
Inn owner Megin Harrington and her son were in the building when the fire started but escaped unharmed.
“The cause of the fire was determined to be a malfunction in the mechanical room,” police said in a statement.
The inn can accommodate 14 guests and is the oldest one continuously operating on the National Road, the first federal highway in the United States, according to the Century Inn website.
In past centuries, guests included the Marquis de Lafayette, the French military officer who fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War, Kentucky politician Henry Clay and Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
Fleeing the burning building, Harrington was able to grab a flag for the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax protest during the presidency of George Washington, but she feared other artifacts in the inn may have been destroyed, she told the Observer Reporter newspaper.
Reporting by Elizabeth Daley; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Cooney