The late Charles B. Brown III wasn’t a big drinker, but there are beer steins and fully stocked bars in every room of his 19,000-square-foot home.
Built between 1976 and 1982, the not-so-humble-abode – which is now known as Bayernhof Museum – sits on a hilltop overlooking the Allegheny River near Sharpsburg.
“On a clear day you can see all the way to West Virginia,” says Dan Yeager, who serves as the mansion’s maintenance man.
The view inside is even more spectacular.
Brown founded Gas-Lite Manufacturing Co., in Lawrenceville in 1963 and went on to make millions. He used his fortune to create Bayernhof and fill it with a quirky collection of vintage music machines, artwork, German brewing memorabilia and knickknacks (mostly beer-chugging gnomes).
The house boasts 10 fireplaces, eight full baths, three powder rooms, three kitchens, a sauna, a tanning room, a Jacuzzi, a wine cellar, an elevator, a conference room, a pool table used in the 1961 Paul Newman flick “The Hustler”, an observatory with a 16-inch reflecting telescope and an indoor swimming pool that is accessible through a hidden hallway made to resemble a cave.
Like a gag from a “Scooby Doo” episode, simply pull a sword from a wall-mounted coat-of-arms and the entrance to the cave is revealed.
“Every room is based on King Ludwig’s castle in Bavaria,” says Jim Mousseau, a retired music teacher who now serves as a museum guide.
Tours, which cost $10, are by appointment only.
Brown amassed most of his extensive beer stein collection in Bavaria, but rarely drank a drop of the beverage. Ironically, the newly opened Eleventh Hour Brewery is housed in an old Gas-Lite property. Visitors to the Lawrenceville tap room can even enjoy a nice, cold pint of Bayernhof Marzen.
When Brown died in 1999, he was buried in a surprisingly modest grave in Allegheny Cemetery, just a stone’s throw from Eleventh Hour.
“Chuck didn’t drink, but if you wanted to drink, he’d be the best host,” Mousseau says with a laugh.
Photos by Buzzy Torek