McCourtie Park sits in Somerset Center along US-12. It is mostly known for its ornate concrete bridges. Before it was a park it was a sprawling estate owned by William Herbert Lee “Herb” McCourtie who built a mansion and the bridges on the property. The large mansion was razed years ago and the estate is now open to the public as a county park.
One interesting feature of the park is a rather unappealing looking structure cut into the hillside. It was built as a garage by McCourtie but also used as what he called the “Rathskeller,” (German for a beer hall that was underground or in a basement). Inside was a fully functional English-style bar, with brass foot rails, hand hewn ceiling beams, leaded windows and dark oak-paneled walls adorned with swords, spears and shields. A swinging door led to a card room that was rumored to be the site of all-night poker parties, one reportedly attended by Henry Ford
Because McCourtie enjoyed partaking in the consumption of alcoholic beverages during prohibition the rathskeller had a 10 foot by 10 foot vault with a hidden entrance to the outside. It is believed to be used for stocking the vault with bottle of liquor. There are even rumors that Al Capone has visited the rathskeller. I am not sure how much of it is true but the old garage still remains in the park. Too bad the old mansion did not survive.
For more about the concrete bridges you can read my post about them HERE
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