Kennedy couple returns to Downtown hotel 48 years after meeting in building
The office building where Tom and Maureen Larkin met might look a little different today, but the love they feel for one another after 48 years of marriage remains the same.
To celebrate that bond and the building’s recent transformation into a boutique hotel, the couple were welcomed as the first guests of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco when it opened Jan. 20 at the former Reed Smith building, Downtown.
“We are so honored and excited to be staying at the hotel,” says Maureen Larkin. “The whole building is amazing. It’s so exciting to see after all these years.”
The Larkins, of Kennedy, met when they both worked for Duquense Light, the building’s former longtime occupant.
Both started as messengers, delivering mail throughout the building. Maureen Larkin, who grew up in Castle Shannon, worked with the company for eight years and held several positions in accounting and customer service. She was working as a secretary in the steno pool of the customer-service department when a certain co-worker caught her eye.
“I had seen him around and thought he was extremely handsome,” she says of her husband.
Tom Larkin, a Central Catholic graduate from Bloomfield, was way ahead of her.
“I realized there was this beautiful secretary,” he says as his wife giggles. “I remember she had a black eye from a sledding accident. I thought, ‘She must be active,’ and I was looking for someone active.”
The pair started dating in 1965, wed in 1967 and were expecting in 1968. Back then, it was common practice for women to stop working when they reached the three-month mark, but Maureen’s boss let her stay until a month before she delivered, as long as she came in the front door and stayed put in her work station.
The couple, who have two children and six grandchildren, remember their days at the building with great fondness. While Maureen left to care for her children then, later, had a career with US Airways, Tom stayed with Duquesne Light for 44 years, many in customer service.
“They were wonderful years,” says Maureen Larkin. “We made so many friends who we still keep in touch with, and many are couples who are still married.”
“Everybody was the same age, and we’d go ice skating or to parties,” says Tom Larkin. “Everybody felt close to each other. We had a company softball league.”
Those memories flooded back when Tom read a newspaper article last summer announcing plans for the new Hotel Monaco, with a tentative open date in December.
The article ignited his inner romantic, and he planned to reserve a room as a Christmas gift.
When he went online to make the reservation, it turned out the property wouldn’t be ready until January. Another article announcing the official opening date of Jan. 20 inspired him to investigate further. He ended up getting in touch with general manager Rob Mallinger, who, upon hearing the Larkins’ story, offered the couple a personal tour of the unfinished space.
“It completely knocked our socks off how nice the rooms are,” Tom Larkin says.
Having the Larkins as the first guests is the “perfect start to our own Pittsburgh story,” Mallinger says.
“We are thrilled to have Tom and Maureen check in as our first guests,” he says. “This is what Kimpton loves about its adaptive reuse projects — deep-rooted local history and heartwarming connections.”
During the tour, Maureen Larkin particularly was impressed with the ceiling, which dates to her time in the building, albeit with new lighting.
“I never even noticed it before,” she says. “The entrance on William Penn Way also took my breath away with the black-and-white tile. I can still see the old building and what we knew. It’s just gorgeous.”
The couple has a particular fondness for the original elevators, which were crammed with people on each trip, and which were overseen by elevator operators.
Subtle nods to the building’s past, such as artwork featuring light bulbs, did not escape the Larkins.
“I was so excited,” Maureen Larkin says. “I said, ‘That light bulb picture is not because of Duquesne Light, is it?’ and they said, ‘It sure is!’ ”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or [email protected].