Old stone taverns certainly tug at the heartstrings, don’t they? See one and your mind tends to wander off to a place long ago and far away. Can’t you just imagine the scene? A warm fire blazes in the open hearth as locals — from landholders to lowly farmers — huddle around candle-topped tables, discussing politics of the day as tankards of ale slowly take their toll. There’s something nostalgic too, about the notion of the weary traveler, stopping off at a wayside inn after a long journey to find conversation and perhaps a warm supper and a place to lay his or her head.
Figures in a Tavern or Coffee House by William Hogarth
There are many early American taverns still standing (and operating!) in this country. And on occasion, an tavern-turned-home comes up for sale, the owner hoping to find a thoughtful someone willing to take on the caretaking responsibility for a few more decades.
If you’re currently shopping for an old stone home with a special spirit of hospitality, you’ll want to take a look at these five magnificent properties, located along old toll roads and once-busy thoroughfares in Pennsylvania.
Moore’s Tavern, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Cumberland Hall, an estate nestled on 2+ acres, was once known as Moore’s Tavern. The Carlisle, Pennsylvania, limestone home was built by James Moore in 1788 and operated as a tavern from 1795 to 1885. The home boasts 17 rooms, eight working wood-burning fireplaces, a rebuilt barn and a vintage brick tollhouse.
Gechter Tavern, Reading, Pennsylvania
Originally known as the Gechter Tavern on the Oley Toll Road and steeped in Civil War history, this circa-1750 home, located near Reading, Pennsylvania, boasts four bedrooms, its original springhouse with walk-in fireplace, a bank barn and a wagon shed.
LeVan Tavern, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
In 1740, Daniel LeVan, an immigrant from the Netherlands, built a stone home along a highway that connected the Pennsylvania towns of Reading and Easton. As traffic grew, so too did the size of his home until finally, in 1765, Daniel opened The LeVan Tavern, which would go on to host both John Adams and George Washington. After decades of serving as a hotel/bar/restaurant and, finally, as a yoga studio, the property is up for sale. Although the building is zoned commercial, second-floor living quarters are available for a brave soul willing to bring this historic tavern back to life.
Johnson-Hatfield Tavern, Brier Hill, Pennsylvania
A stop for 19th-century travelers along the National Road in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, The Johnson-Hatfield Tavern was built in 1817 by Randolph Dearth for Robert Johnson. The building served as a tavern through 1855 and thereafter as a private residence. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home sits on 3.75 acres and features a historic stone springhouse.
John Hunter Inn, Oley, Pennsylvania
Built in 1768 by Johannes Jaeger (John Hunter), this Georgian-style sandstone home located in Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, doubled as a wayside inn during the colonial period. The home features 12 rooms and four fireplaces, plus an 18th century log cabin (not original to the site), a wagon shed and an English-style barn.
To learn more about the importance of the tavern or inn in the lives of Early Americans, take some time to read this informative post on the Gothic Curiosity Cabinet blog.