7 Oldest Bars that Ever Existed in America

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Soon after the very first colony was founded in America at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, the very first tavern and restaurants began to pop up throughout the newly established colonies.

In fact, it took less than 100 years for the first official tavern to be established in America. In addition to serving food and drinks, these early taverns were often used as important meeting places as they were typically built in a town’s central area.

All of the following taverns/inns were established during colonial American times and through many preservation efforts still remain in operation today. 

7. Blue Bell Inn

Year Established: 1743
Location: Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

 photo source: aroundmainline.com 

 photo source: artfuldinerblog.com

 photo source: Yelp 

The Blue Bell Inn was first built in 1743 and was originally called the “White House.” The inn is not only a historic landmark in Pennsylvania, but it is a part of American history – in 1777, George Washington and his troops retreated to the Blue Bell area after being defeated at the Battle of Germantown. While Washington regrouped, he often stayed at the inn.

Around 1796, a tower with a blue bell was installed over the inn and it was renamed from The White House to the Blue Bell Inn. The inn became so important to the locals, that the town decided to change its name from Pigeontown to Blue Bell.

While the inn has changed ownership numerous times, it has always remained for people to stop in and have food and drinks.

6. New Boston Inn

Year Established: 1737
Location: Sandisfield, Massachusetts

 photo source: Wikimedia Commons

 photo source: Yelp

 photo source: Yelp

The New Boston Inn can trace its roots back to 1737 when Capt. Daniel Brown settled in the area and founded New Boston. He received the first tavern license for the area in 1742 and the inn’s Pub/Taproom is the original part of inn.

Although the site of the inn dates back to 1737, the current building is thought to have been constructed sometime in the 1800s by one of Brown’s sons. During the Revolutionary War, the inn served as a training ground for soldiers between 1775 – 1789.

The inn has survived so long due to good preservation and a few restorations (1920, 1940, and 1985). Today, the New Boston Inn still serves food and drinks and is once again operating as an inn. It is now a historic landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

5. Red Fox Inn & Tavern

Year Established: 1728
Location: Middleburg, Virginia

 photo source: Wikimedia Commons

photo source:  Tripadvisor 

 photo source: Yelp

The Red Fox Inn & Tavern was established some time around 1728 by Rawleigh Chinn, who owned the land on which Middleburg was developed. While the Red Fox Inn has some interior pieces that date back to the 18th century, its present stone building was built in 1830 for Nobel Beveridge.

The inn has hosted several notable politicians, musicians, authors, athletes, and celebrities including President John F. Kennedy, who held a press conference in the JEB Stuart Room. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis also frequently stayed overnight in the inn as well as Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Tom Cruise.

During the Civil War, the inn was used by the Confederate army, most notably Confederate Colonel John Mosby and his Rangers.

4. Logan Inn

Year Established: 1727
Location: New Hope, Pennsylvania

 photo source: loganinn.com

photo source: OpenTable

 photo source: Tripadviso

The Logan Inn was first built in 1722 by John Wells, who is considered to be the founder of New Hope’s community. It did not officially become a tavern until 1727, when Wells was granted a license to keep a tavern by the General Assembly of Pennsylvania – the tavern was initially called the Ferry Tavern.

The tavern received its current name, The Logan Inn, in 1828 as part of a celebration and a metal cut-out of a Native American man was installed above the roof of the inn. While there are many differing stories for how the inn got its current name, the Logan Inn’s official website says that it was named for a Lenni-Lanape chief who developed a close relationship with James Logan, secretary to William Penn, and as a sign of admiration adopted Logan’s last name. 

3.Old Yarmouth Inn

Year Established: 1696
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts

photo source:  Tripadvisor

photo source: Tripadvisor 

photo source:  Yelp

Old Yarmouth Inn was established in 1696 and is believed to be the oldest inn and tavern in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The tavern was built near the colony’s early churches as it was common to do so during colonial times – this made it easy for churchgoers to flock to the inn for refreshments after church was over.

Due to a fire at Cape Cod’s Town Hall, older documents detailing the inn’s history have been lost, but a guest registry from the 1860s survives as proof that the inn has been welcoming travelers for a very long time. As a historic building, many people believe that the Old Yarmouth Inn is haunted. There have been sightings of the inn’s two main ghosts for years and the Yarmouth’s owners assure people that these ghosts mischievous, but not malicious or scary.

2. Broad Axe Tavern

Year Established: 1681
Location: Ambler, Pennsylvania

photo source:  thebroadaxetavern.com

photo source:  thebroadaxetavern.com

photo source: Yelp

The Broad Axe Tavern first opened in 1681 and was located along a path where farmers took their grain to the mills of the area. Eventually, these farmers opened a small tavern and began to charge for food and a place to stay. The tavern soon became a local meeting spot where people could exchange news – the sheriff even began to post notices on the wall and newspapers (the Pennsylvania Gazette and Ambler Gazette) were read aloud each day.

The Broad Axe Tavern is located in an area that is often shrouded in a dense fog and surrounded by a heavy forest, this has led to many claims that the tavern is haunted. Its most well-known ghost is Rachel, who many claim was the daughter of one of the tavern’s owners. After being harassed by a group of drunken men, she locked herself in the bathroom to hide and was never seen again. Many customers say that Rachel still haunts the bathroom she ran into.

1. White Horse Tavern

Year Established: 1673
Location: Newport, Rhode Island

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

photo source: Yelp

The White Horse Tavern was first established as a bar in 1673, but the original building was built in 1652, making it the oldest tavern building in the U.S. Over the next one hundred years after it first opened, the tavern was used as a meeting place for the local colonists – it was used for the Colony’s General Assembly meetings, as a courthouse, and as a city hall. 

Jonathan Nichols, who became the tavern’s owner in 1730 gave the White Horse Tavern its current name. By 1954, the tavern had become worn and rundown and it was restored through the generosity of the Van Beuren family. The building was reopened in 1957 and has been in continuous operation since then as The White Horse Tavern.

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