The History of Colonel George Piper's Tavern
George Piper, the founder of Pipersville, and the ancestor of those bearing the name in that section of the county, was born on the Wissahickon, Philadelphia county, November 11, 1755. He removed to Bedminster about the time he arrived at manhood, and married a daughter of Arnold Lear, of Tinicum. About 1775 he opened a store at Pipersville, and in 1778 he moved into the tavern at that place, which he kept until his death in 1823. Colonel Piper listened to the reading of the Declaration of Independence in front of the state house, Philadelphia, July 4, 1776. He was an officer in the Continental army, and a colonel in the state militia; and assisted General Paul Mallet Provost to purchase the tract of land on the east bank of the Delaware, on which he afterward laid out Frenchtown, Hunterdon county, New Jersey. Colonel Piper was married to one Eva Lear, the daughter of a relative of Tobias Lear, the private secretary to General George Washington. Eva was a courageous and patriotic woman.
In 1759, a quaint tavern was built at the junction of the Philadelphia-Easton Post Road and the Durham Road by Joseph Bladen. Later, in 1778, that tavern was purchased by George Piper, a distinguished colonel in the Continental Army, who was born in Philadelphia County, along the banks of the Wissahickon River. "Colonel Piper's Tavern" was a large colonial structure, with 15" thick walls. With additions to the prosperous tavern in 1784, 1790 and 1801, the tavern included a parlor and dining room, a large kitchen and guest rooms for weary travelers. A distinctive feature at that time was a two story "piazza" with a long ornamental railing, upon which was fixed a sign that read "Piper's Tavern".
The Piper Tavern has a rich tradition of famous guests, including Benjamin Franklin, General Anthony Wayne, General LaFayette, Governor Wayne Mifflin, Robert Morris and George Taylor (Signers of the Declaration of Independence), Bishop White and Stephen Girard. Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Spain, boarded at the Inn during the summers with "his French cook, plates and all that was necessary to serve him". The King took quite a fancy to the old Lombardy poplar trees in front of the tavern, and told Colonel Piper that they reminded him of his native Europe. On occasion, Bishop White and one Dr. Rev. Muhlenbergh of Philadelphia offered up their Sunday devotional exercises in the Tavern. Colonel Sitgreaves of Easton and Colonel George Taylor, were bosom friends of Colonel Piper and Mr. William Allen, who was a frequent guest and for whom Allentown is named.
Over the course of 200 years, the tavern was also known as Keichline's Tavern, the Upper Bucks County Hotel and as Brugger's Pipersville Inn, where many notables and celebrities such as James A. Michener, Pearl S. Buck, Dorothy Parker, S.J. Perelman, Moss Hart, George S. Kauffman and Walter Slezak gathered. The collection of monks around the ceiling in Jacob's Pub belonged to Joseph Brugger, a colorful impresario, whose brother was a priest. Walter Conti, a past president of the National Restaurant Association, and his son, State Senator Joe Conti, purchased the Inn from Brugger and completed a major restoration effort, renaming it Conti's Pipersville Inn. Today, the Piper Tavern is named in tribute to Colonel Piper once again, and is owned and operated by Tavern Master Gregg Thomas.