As we said in our last blog installment on the 200-year history of Hargrave House, the new county seat took its place at the crossroads in 1813. In January of that year, William Magill sold a portion of his property – Lot E – to David Carr Jr. The transaction was for $310. That lot was a quarter of an acre of land and part of the original Magill farm. Our historical research determined that Carr built the stone house that now hosts our bed and breakfast. After it was completed, he sold the building and property, unlikely that he had ever lived in the house.
The three-story structure was built in the Georgian style of colonial homes. The building was a simple box with side gables and windows in strict symmetry along with a center door – common at the time. Double-hung windows on the first and third floor had 6-over-6 panes, while the arrangement of the second-floor window panes were 9 over 6. As was typical, the upper windows touched the cornice. The roof was a hand-split, pine shingle roof, and the thick, stone walls were covered with stucco. Later additions included a small porch roof along the entire front of the house and a two-story wood frame rear addition. In the early part of the 20th century, the wooden shingled roof was covered with standing seam tin. (Town officials encouraged this action among homeowners after a 1914 fire storm caused several homes to burn.)
So after Jeremiah Langhorne died, the executors sold 172 acres of land and 141 perches (which amounts to a little less than an acre in today’s property measurements) to a man named William Scott. Later in the same year, 1753, Scott sold the parcel of land to Archibald Crawford of Warwick Township. The purchase price is not known. Hargrave House now stands on a portion of that land.
As an aside, other owners of large tracts of land around the crossroads that now make up the heart of Doylestown were Joseph Kirkbride, Robert Scott, Edward and William Doyle, Isabella Crawford, and the Flacks.
Like his father, Edward, William Doyle was a tavern keeper. At the time, he went to the county seat – then in Newtown – to petition for a license to allow him to keep a public house. Records indicate he had the recommendations of 14 of his neighbors and friends. The petition asked that no public house be located within 5 miles of where they lived. The Doyles built an inn at the crossroads in 1745. The crossroads were then named Dyer’s Mill Road (now Main Street), running north and south, and Swedesford-Coryell’s Ferry Road (now State Street), running east and west. The inn and tavern was known as Doyle’s Tavern and is where Starbucks is located today.
The family ran the tavern for 30 years before moving to New York state. The country crossroads was called Doylestown in honor of the early pioneer Doyle family.
Been dying to try some of Domani Star’s famed meatballs? What about that luscious creamy crab soup served piping hot by Pennsylvania Soup & Seafood House? Here’s your chance. Both are among the more than 20 restaurants participating in the second annual Doylestown Restaurant Week April 21-27.
Special menu options will be showcased, along with the restaurant’s normal culinary fare. You can get a preview of some of the offerings April 17 when Discover Doylestown will hold its brand launch party at The Standard Club.
Our town has so many options when it comes to dining out. From casual to more formal, BYOB places, al fresco dining, and a multitude of ethnic eateries – there’s bound to be something for anyone’s taste!
There is plenty of history behind what is now Hargrave House. And it began with William Penn, who asked England’s King Charles II for land in America as payment for a debt owed to his deceased father. The king granted him 40,000 acres in 1681, which eventually became known as Pennsylvania.
Eleven years later, Penn sailed to America and decided, as a way of enticing people to emigrate here, to offer land at a cheap price – 100 pounds ($166 in today’s U.S. dollars) would buy you 5,000 acres. During that trip, he established both Bucks and Philadelphia counties. He also made a treaty with the Lenni Lenape tribe of the Delaware Indians who are also native to our area.
Realizing the massive amount of land he owned was too large to manage alone, Penn sold about 20,000 acres to The Free Society of Traders, a wealthy group of Quaker merchants in England. The Society had offices in Philadelphia too, close to the Delaware River, in an area that later become known as Society Hill.
In 1724, The Society sold large tracts of land to Jeremiah Langhorne. Nearly half of his land was located in what is now Central Bucks County – Doylestown, New Britain and Warwick townships, to be exact. We’ll talk about that a little more in our next blog about Hargrave House’s history.
We have so many wonderful little shops around town – anything you can imagine, really. And we’ve got one as a new neighbor, right around the corner from us, to which we’d like to extend a heartfelt welcome. Cowgirl Chile Co. Jewelry just relocated to 4 W. Oakland Ave. Laura Rutkowski handcrafts her own designs of jewelry, but you’ll also find an eclectic mix of women’s accessories, vintage items, artwork, hot sauces and lots of other cool stuff. Stop by their grand reopening this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for some goodie bags and live music. Your own zest for life may just mirror the boutique’s own celebration of cowgirl spirit.
Doylestown is a treasure box filled with all kinds of interesting historical nuggets. We stumble on them now and again as we look into Hargrave House’s past and celebrate its 200th year at what is now 50 S. Main St.
J. Kurt Spence of Doylestown Historical Society pieced together our 200-year history through various sources. It’s much like detective work. One lead points the way to another. Property deeds, found in the Bucks County Courthouse, show land transfers, with some going back to the late 1700s. The records give the names and addresses of the buyers and sellers, description of the property and the purchase price. Sometimes maps were even attached.
Federal census information – gathered every 10 years since 1790 – is also culled. Where you were born, if you immigrated to the United States, when you were married, your occupation and your approximate personal worth were all recorded. (One of those curious historical tidbits from the 1930 census even notes whether a resident owned a radio!)
Other particulars came from old maps, tax records, newspapers, books, local publications, and, yes, the Internet also was used as a research tool.
Spence also credited the late Wilma Brown Rezer, an avid Doylestown historian, for providing firm groundwork in researching early Doylestown land transfers and history.
In the upcoming months, we’ll let you in on some more HH history – who some of its owners were, problems with a property line and renovations along the way. It’s a fascinating trip through time.
This year is an important year in Hargrave House’s history. We’re celebrating the building’s 200th anniversary!
According to historical research, the three-story stone building was erected sometime between 1812 and 1814. The house itself has had several owners with varied professions during that time period, including a doctor, a Bucks County judge, a family whose young son would grow up to be a noted Doylestown reporter, and a successful marble carver whose surname has graced the building in its most recent existence as a flourishing bed and breakfast.
Join us over the course of 2014 as we share some of what we’ve learned of our past and what that means to our future in Doylestown. We’re looking forward to having you celebrate with us!
The holidays are past us. Perhaps you’ve just put away the last of the Christmas decorations. Time to settle in to what could be a few long and cold winter months. (We don’t even want to HEAR an utterance of the recent polar vortex weather oddity!) A good way to chase away those winter blues would be a visit to Michener Museum’s exhibit on actress-princess Grace Kelly. If you haven’t yet gone, you better hurry. The exhibit closes Jan. 26. Step through a portion of her world via film clips from some of her best onscreen roles, home movies from her growing-up years in Philadelphia and, of course, those spectacular designer gowns she wore. (Don’t we all wish for a 21-inch waist?) Call ahead for tickets.
All set for the Labor Day weekend? We are, though it’s hard to believe that summer has flown by so quickly! Still, even though it might be the unofficial end, there are plenty of fun things going on around town that will keep you busy.
What’s the next fun thing? How about the Doylestown Arts Festival? It’s a week earlier this year – scheduled for Sept. 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s the biggest festival of the year, with lots of visiting craft artisans, musicians, and food and drink to fortify you as you walk around.
Not into the whole arts scene? Not to worry. Stop by Sunday and you can watch the inaugural Thompson Bucks County Classic, a New Hope to Doylestown bike race featuring 150 professional cyclists. Riders hit the finish line at West Court and Main streets between 2:30 and 3 p.m.
Need more fun? Visit the Polish-American Family Festival and Country Fair nearby at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. You’ll get rides, crafts, dancing, historical re-enacters, Polish food and more. It’s the last of two weekends, running from noon to 8 p.m. both days.
Whew! All that fun is tiring!
Like games of strategy? Then come on out to Doylestown’s First Saturday Chess. You could learn a few moves while having loads of fun, too!
During summer months, the event is held right next door to Hargrave House in the pocket park behind Doylestown Historical Society. Pop in anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month (Aug. 3 is the next one). Chess sets are even provided. And it’s free and open to all ages.