Well-Behaved Taverns Seldom Make History: Pennsylvania pubs where rabble-rousers and rum runners stirred up revolutions
Now available: A pub crawl through the rebellious past.
The American Revolution. Fries Rebellion. Whiskey Rebellion. Canal construction. Underground Railroad. Battle of Gettysburg. Molly Maguires. Prohibition.
Name a rebellion, and a pub was at the center – a place for airing grievances, organizing resistance, and lubricating for the struggle ahead.
You can still join the fight — and enjoy a meal and a drink — at the 12 atmospheric pubs explored in M. Diane McCormick’s Well-Behaved Taverns Seldom Make History.
- City Tavern, Philadelphia: Epicenter of revolt. Revolutionaries conspired and the Madeira flowed like, well, wine.
- General Warren Historic Hospitality, Malvern: Espionage afoot. Planning site of the murderous Paoli Massacre. That debonair spy in the corner? John André gathering intel from local Loyalists.
- Blue Bell Inn, Blue Bell: George Washington finds sanctuary. The general committed an oops that lost the Battle of Germantown. He came here for consolation.
- McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn, Quakertown: Rumbling for tax relief. Women pouring boiling water on tax collectors. Hostages held in taverns. Drunken mobs on the march. Fries Rebellion was a doozy.
- Tavern at the Sun Inn, Bethlehem: Crossroads of the Revolution. A fine inn sheltered a rogues’ gallery of rebels, from future presidents, to Alexander Hamilton on vacation, to a convalescing Marquis de Lafayette, finding time to flirt.
- Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford: Hotbed of the Whiskey Rebellion. Tax my whiskey? My lifeblood and my livelihood? Just try it.
- Black Bass Hotel, Lumberville: Life and death on the canal. Stone foundations keep rooms cool. Which explains why today’s basement restrooms once doubled as morgue for canal builders dying by the score. Don’t miss the autopsy table.
- Dobbin House Inn, Gettysburg: Safe harbor in the Underground Railroad. Slide back the cabinet, and refugees fleeing slavery found a hiding space. During the days of battle, Union soldiers flushed out Rebel snipers holed up here.
- Farnsworth House Inn and Sweney’s Tavern, Gettysburg: Bullets and bravado. Bullet holes tell of Confederate sharpshooters in the attic and Union soldiers firing back. Movie props tell of actors carousing after their days of filming “Gettysburg.”
- Wooden Keg Tavern, St. Clair: “Take that from a son of Molly Maguire.” The pub door opened, and in walked a stranger who bought a round of drinks and danced a lively jig. Did Pinkerton spy James McParlan infiltrate the Molly Maguires here?
- Two Rivers Brewing Company, Easton: Speakeasy on the Delaware. Come to Sin City for all the illegal delights. Hooch is just the beginning.
- Horse Inn, Lancaster: Knock three times and whisper low. A nameless alley. A nondescript barn. A sliding door. The Horse Inn seemed made to be a speakeasy.
In Well-Behaved Taverns Seldom Make History, join experienced journalist and writer M. Diane McCormick on a journey to the places where miscreants made trouble. All are standing taverns, where you can eat the food, absorb the atmosphere, and hoist a drink honoring history’s Hall of Fame scalawags.
With her inquisitive nature and self-effacing humor, Diane uncovers the fascinating tidbits and historical marvels that you won’t read about on the back of the menu. Each chapter features:
- Interview with the owner or proprietor, all of them rebels in their own right.
- “You take that sign, and the settlement is off.” Was she serious? Hell, yeah. “It’s part of this building. It needs to stay.”
- Tour of the rooms.
- Booths, tables, and bar are lit with real candles, offering diners the rare chance to experience lighting as it was – almost — in the centuries before electricity. No one seemed to mind the dim coziness.
- Entertaining writeups on the pub’s rebellious history.
- So he paid the toll, crossed the bridge, and led his men to the Sun Inn. Let me repeat that. He paid the toll. In the middle of an insurgency.
- Insights into historic décor and architecture.
- Where’s the barkeep while plates fly? Locked in his cage – his “bar and grill” – where he and the valuable liquor avoid breakage until it’s safe to emerge.
- Any ghosts?
- And then a fourth voice said, “I’ll take that bet.” “All three of us looked at each other,” Tom told me.
- Introduction to finely crafted food and beverages.
- Every juice in every drink is fresh squeezed, pressed for about an hour daily by bar staff. They make their own syrups, bitters, tinctures.
- Plan-your-visit info.
- Nearby historical sites and unique lodgings.
- Beside the stone, a 13-star American flag flutters in the wind.