Stone House Revival - The History of the Washington Inn


Jeff Devlin's Stone House Revival, on the DIY Network

As you may know we researched . We were also given the chance to be present on set when Jeff presented the history to the home owners. We had such a blast and are so grateful to Jeff and his team for the opportunity. home. We were thrilled when he asked us to add our skills to a home on his show,

Video Clip: Stone House Revival, Season 3, Episode 14

The Washington Inn was the subject of our Stone House Revival project. It dates back to 1785 and served as a hotel, tavern, restaurant and a community gathering place. We were fortunate to have the assistance of the local Caernarvon Historical Society, thanks Yvonne! Preview more images at end of research, enjoy!

The Washington Inn - History

The story of the building at the corner of Main and Water Streets in Churchtown is entwined with the history of Bangor Church, it’s people and the iron ore industry.

The subject of our research has been known through the years as “The General Washington”, “The Washington House”, and “The Washington Inn”. It is not known if George Washington stayed in Churchtown, but legend has it that he “once tied his horse to a spruce tree in Churchtown”. It has also been noted that the iron forges in the area supplied rifle hammers during the Revolutionary War. Main Street itself has also been called “The King’s Highway” (laid out in 1737-38), and “The High Road”. These name changes are found in the deeds through the 1800s and into current day.

The earliest settlers to the area were Welsh who came west from a large Welsh settlement in Radnor, PA. Churchtown was built around the Bangor Church, which was first constructed of logs in 1733. This log church was located to the South of present day Main Street. The “King’s Highway”, or “Horse-Shoe Road” which is Main Street today, was laid out in 1737 and 1738. The road left the log church on the south side, with the graveyard to the north. In 1738, Gabriel Davies was granted a patent from the Proprietors of Pennsylvania for just over 62 acres of land for the construction of the Bangor Church, this would be the more permanent replacement of the log church.

The first stone church was constructed with monies collected from the settlers in 17545. Gabriel Davies conveyed ownership of the church and it’s surrounding land to Lynford Lardner and John Davies, wardens of the Bangor Church, in 1755. The following excerpt describes this transaction.

The church and the land surrounding it was conveyed in October 8, 1759 to Nathan Evans for 29 pounds, 2 shilling. Nathan and his wife Susanna, by deed 2 days later (October 10, 1759) transferred ownership to James Turbet and Nathan Evans, Jr., wardens of the church. The wardens divided the church land along the road into lots to be sold. Based on the excerpt7, the proceeds of the sale of these lots was apparently intended to assist in finishing the church, but Nathan Evans, Sr had intended the proceeds to support the minister of the church.

The wardens or trustees of the church divided the land and charged a land rent of 7 shillings, 6 pence per acre (later this rent is listed as $1) to be paid yearly on November 10th. The following excerpt gives a clear description of the beginnings of Churchtown, and the origin of its name.

A primary goal of research is to determine the year of construction and builder. The structure that would later be known as the Washington Inn was built on land that was parceled out by the wardens of the Bangor Church. It is difficult to trace the conveyances of these parcels, as some were deeded sales, while others were leased, and still others were deeded to owners who did not live on the property, but instead managed the businesses that were erected along Main Street. Several sources were consulted in an effort to discern who may have first owned the land and perhaps, built the structures.

According to the Lancaster Trust for Historic Preservation, "the building at Main and Water Streets, known most recently as The Washington Inn, was built by William Jenkins in 1777, with an addition in 1812.”

Another source notes, “the west end of the Washington Inn was built soon after the church warden sold the land to George Faulkner. The east end of the building was built around 1812”. The following described documentation supports both of these assertions:

George Faulkner (spelled Faukler) appears in a deed dated October 20, 1767 in which a “lot and piece of ground” in Caernarvon township is transferred from James Keimer, John Edwards and Edward Hughes, trustees appointed by the Minister Church Wardens and Vestry for leading the land of Bangor Church…for an in consideration of the rents and services herein after received to be paid and performed.” Faulkner receives 41/2 acres, 37 perches, called “Lott 2” on the North side of “the Great Road”, and 77 perches on the South side of the road, called “Lott 6”. These lots are described as being part of a larger tract of land conveyed to Lynford Lardner and John Davies in 1755, then to Nathan Evans on October 8, 1759. This is consistent with the information presented above.

George Faulkner transferred his rights to the parcels to William Jenkins on September 23, 1769. Several pieces of documentation lend credence to the idea that William Jenkins was responsible for the construction of the building:

William Jenkins is enumerated in a 1773 Pennsylvania Tax and Exoneration record on 6 acres of woodland, 3 pound rent paid, 2 horses and 1 cow. He paid 7 shillings in tax. This property is described in William’s will (see below), and is located to the west of the church.

The Revolutionary War 1775-1783

William Jenkins is found in a compilation of newspaper advertisement with a “store at Bangor Church, Caernarvon Township, Lancaster." This advertisement is dated March 19, 1776.

William Jenkins’ will, dated April 18, 1777 gives more insight about his role in the history of the building:

“It is my will and I do order my lott of one acre of land whereon my mansion house stands in which I now live to the East side of the Church yard to be either sold or rented out by my executors to any good and careful tenant that shall not damage the house or any of the other buildings, garden or fences thereon, but if my executors shall see it most advantageous to sell said house and lott then I do order it to be sold and not be leased out”. William’s will names his wife, Elizabeth, and a son, George who was apparently under the age of 21 when the will was written. William’s brothers, David and Isaac Jenkins, were named as William’s executors. It is inferred by the date of the probate of the will that William died in 1777. If the “mansion house to the East side of the Church yard” is believed to be the future Washington Inn, it is clear the building was constructed between 1769, when Jenkins received property from Faulkner, and his death in 1777.

David and Isaac Jenkins sold four lots of property in their brother’s estate to Gerardus Clarkson, a physician on June 7, 1777. The lots described in this deed are as follows: 7 ¾ acres, 18 perches “No. 3”, and three lots of ½ acre each. This deed also mentions the name of Joseph Williamson, who received land from the same Wardens of the Bangor Church that conveyed land to George Faulkner. It cannot be clearly determined if the land upon which the structure was built was conveyed through George Faulkner or Joseph Williamson, and records of the division of the church land into lots along Main Street were not readily located. It is the author’s opinion that the information presented by the Lancaster Trust for Historic Preservation is the most accurate accounting of the origin of The Washington Inn (built by William Jenkins in the late 1700s).

The property changed hands a number of times in the years after Jenkins, and the sales included multiple parcels, usually ½ acre in size:

  • Gerardus and Mary Clarkson sold 5 lots of land, including the lands from Jenkins, to Jacob Hinkle on August 22, 1778.

  • Jacob Hinkle sold the 5 lots to James Old on June 15, 1779 for 350 pounds.

  • James Old was the founder of Poole Forge, and was married to Margaretta Davies, the daughter of Gabriel Davies, the original warrantee of the Bangor church lands. James was a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature and was a well known Iron Master.

  • James Old sold 4 of the lots on May 30, 1783 to Henry Sherck (also Shirk) for 300 pounds.

  • Henry and Bonina Shirk sold 3 parcels to Jesse Laverty and Robert Jenkins, Iron Masters on April 11, 1804 for 800 pounds. Robert Jenkins released his ½ ownership of the properties on April 25, 1804.

  • Jesse Laverty sold a messuage (dwelling) and 2 half acre lots of land to Cyrus Jacobs on March 25, 1812 for $1600.

Cyrus Jacobs

The iron forges at Pool, Windsor, and Spring Grove were built by the earliest settlers of Caernarvon Township in the 1700's. The area was found to contain one of the richest deposits of iron ore, and the forges sustained their owners and employees living in and around Churchtown for many generations. Cyrus Jacobs came to Churchtown from his native Perkiomen to work and found employ with James Old at Pool Forge. Cyrus astutely learned the iron business and the practice of law, and through his lifetime amassed a staggering fortune of land and property holdings, and business interests. By his 28th year, he had married Margaret, the daughter of his employer James Old, and had purchased over 200 acres along the Conestoga Creek. He built Spring Grove Forge and Mansion, and by the end of his life owned White Hall, Hampden, Spring Grove and Federal Hall.

Cyrus and his family were intertwined with a love affair that would impact a future US President. Cyrus Jacob’s son, Cyrus studied law in the Lancaster offices of a young James Buchanan, and his daughter, Eliza, would marry Buchanan’s law parter Molton Rogers. James Buchanan became enamored with a young woman named Ann Coleman. Ann was Cyrus Jacob, Jr’s cousin (Ann’s mother was the senior Cyrus Jacobs’ sister). James and Ann were engaged by the summer of 1819. James’ legal practice took him away from Ann through most of the fall of 1819, and gossip among the elite of Lancaster that James did not really love Ann, but loved her family’s fortunes instead began to wear on Ann. Through a series of misunderstandings, Ann became convinced that James was interested in another young woman, and she was so consumed by her heartbreak that she died after a fit of hysterics while visiting her sister in Philadelphia. James was distraught over the loss of Ann and vowed to never marry.

While the story of Ann Coleman and James Buchanan does not have a direct relationship with the Washington Inn, it provides a glimpse into the lives of the iron and legal aristocracy in Lancaster during a time when Cyrus Jacobs, Sr. owned the Washington Inn

Cyrus’ fortune at the time of his death in May 1830 included 9000 acres of land in Lancaster and Berks Counties, and an estate worth over $280,000, an incredible amount for the time. He and Margaret had 14 children, but most died young. Cyrus’ will is lengthy, as would be expected of an attorney with such a fortune to convey.