We began our journey to Bedford County, Pennsylvania almost 2 years ago. We looked at several historic houses — well, really just three, but of those three, we kept coming back again and again and again. In February, 2014 we found this gorgeous example of Federal architecture on the Historic Lincoln Highway (Route 30) between Breezewood and Everett, PA. Okay, it’s within a stone’s throw over a hill from Breezewood. A really excellent location for running a Bed and Breakfast for traveling history buffs.
An offer was made in March and planning began in earnest. The sellers saved this house from encroaching decay and disrepair. They deserve kudos for doing some serious renovations. They installed a new roof, furnace, plumbing, electric, garage, etc. etc. etc. and all the while maintaining the original bones and character of this house! CANNOT thank them enough for their efforts! Settlement is expected in the next month for us. We will continue the renovations and work towards opening this piece of history to others as a B&B.
We are thinking about calling the place Maple Springs Inn as nod to the history of the place and after actively researching the house history. A general idea of what we knew when we started is that the house had been empty for several years until the most recent owners (the Wrights) began renovations in 2009. There had been flea market and antique sales intermittently over the years on the property. For the most part, the house had been unoccupied since the 70’s. In the 1920’s and onward it was known as The Maple Lawn Inn, a restaurant known for it’s chicken and ham dinners. Further back it appears to be known as Martin’s Tavern and the home of a prominent citizen of Bedford County, Benjamin Martin. However, there is also another location referenced as Martin’s Tavern at the first (original crossing) of the Juniata River that was owned by Benjamin’s father James Martin. It’s obvious that one of the front rooms was a tavern room but when has not been verified by contemporary accounts. It’s also worth noting that taverns, inns, and wagon stands were not in short supply along these roads during 1800’s. We also suspect that what is called the summer kitchen may have been the original tavern or public house before the main house was built.
So why Maple Springs? A patent and survey returned (filed) by Benjamin Martin in 1790 reads (items in brackets – [ ] added for clarity):
“A Draught [draft] of a Tract of Land situated on both sides of the Big Road including the Maple Spring on said Road in Providence Township Bedford County, containing tow hundred and one Acres with the usual allowance of six pr. cent for Roads &ca. [etc.] surveyed for Benjamin Martin the 7th Day of October 1789 in Pursuance of a warrant dated June 10th 1788. ” http://www.phmc.state.pa.us, Survey Book M, Page 182, PHMC, Returned 22 July 1790
This is the original land tract where the house is located. The Maple Spring is is about 100 yards from the house and is shaded by huge old growth trees. A spring like this would have been used to water the pack horses hauling the wagons over the mountains on these old roads and a natural stopping place for rest and sustenance. We cannot wait to get the metal detector going at the spring location. Many of the early patents were listed by an identifying name and referenced a feature, folly or variant of the warantee’s name. One of the more tongue in cheek assignments listed three tracts of land in Bedford County as “Something”, “Anything” , and “Nothing” all warrants of Edward Millner in 1775.
We considered other names too like the Inn of the Thirteen Stars. An original ceiling modallion (we think original) in the center hallway has 13 stars around the perimeter signifying the first thirteen colonies. The former owners told us that an eagle would have been in the center at one time. It’s been removed for wiring of a hanging light. Martins’s Tavern or Green Tree Tavern, is referenced in a family history by Wesley Martin, son of Benjamin. If we went that route, it would be a tavern more than a B&B. Whitehall was the original name of the Breezewood village. Since the house is red brick that seemed a little off. And then there were the self lauding names like Lloyd’s Landing and the Colonel’s Corner (Scott’s vote not mine). If we could verify a date of origin for the house we might have called it the 1790 Inn or Ye Olde Stagecoach Inn.
Based upon what we know and can verify, it was a tavern, it was a stage coach stop, it is on the “Great Road” and “National Road” and “Chambersburg – Bedford Toll Road” and it more than likely was an overnight stop for travelers and it has a big spring under the Maple trees and that spring was referenced on an original survey in 1789. So, Maple Springs seems as appropriate for now. There will be more posts about the history and the search and the taverns on the early roads and just about any other rabbit hole we find.
I love the research, Scott loves the photos and we both adore history. I could say it couldn’t get any better than this, but I know it will. We will have discoveries and amazing finds as we research, renovate and document the progress. Stay with us as we learn more.