Nestled in Pittsburgh, Pa’s North Shore are the beautiful, award-winning 42-guestroom Priory Hotel and the adjacent Grand Hall event facility. These spaces are not only lovely but also historic. They are in the former St. Mary’s Church and Priory, built in 1852 and 1888 respectively, and are part of the Priory Hospitality Group, a lodging, and food service company owned by John and Suzanne Graf.

The couple invests in historic and unique locations in the Pittsburgh area and already boasts several gems.

In 2005, Priory Hospitality expanded by purchasing an acclaimed commercial and retail bakery with sandwich and coffee shop—Priory Fine Pastries located in Deutschtown. The bakery serves its customers in the original D. L. Clark Candy building on East Ohio Street, built in 1903.

Built in 1890, the vacant Westinghouse Air Brake Company General Office Building—known as “The Castle”—in Wilmerding joined their roster in 2016. The Grafs hope to convert the 50,000 square foot building into a destination, resort-style boutique hotel, event facility, and restaurant and are seeking investors for the restoration.

Photo: The Priory

Once the Gilded Age mansion of prominent lawyer Willis McCook, the 22-guestroom Mansions on Fifth Hotel in Shadyside now hosts overnight guests as well as parties, weddings, and other celebrations. The Grafs acquired this property in 2016, as well, and are especially proud of the property’s Oak Room pub. “It reminds you of a private club in the heart of London,” John said.

Priory Hospitality and its partners are considering several projects in Pittsburgh’s North Side for the near future. They are planning a new 96-guestroom Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel in East Deutschtown adjacent to the former Workingman’s Bank building, built in 1902, which they will renovate. The Workingman’s Bank building has an interesting history, once serving as an alternative incarceration space for those convicted of alcohol-related criminal offenses. After renovation, it will serve as an elegant event facility, with a brewpub and restaurant located on the top floor. The brewpub’s roof deck will feature a spectacular view of downtown and the Strip District.

Graf said that everyone is excited about the outdoor space for the brewpub, but they will be “blown away by the banquet space.” The two-story hall promises to be classically stunning with marble walls and columns. Both facilities are slated to open by early summer 2018.

For more information on the existing facilities, please visit the websites:,, or

Cori Wamsley, CEO of Aurora Corialis Publishing, works with leaders who have a transformational story to share. She helps them quickly and easily write and publish a book for their brand that helps them create a legacy and be seen as an expert while building a relationship with the reader. Wamsley has 18 years’ experience as a professional writer and editor, including 10 years with the Departments of Energy and Justice and four years as the executive editor of Inspiring Lives Magazine. She also wrote eight fiction books and one nonfiction book, The SPARK Method: How to Write a Book for Your Business Fast, and contributed to two anthologies. Her tenth book, The Treasures We Seek, will be available in November of 2023.