The History of Colonel George Piper’s Tavern
I n 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”.
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. Legend has it that Mrs. Piper was ironing one day when two cohorts, Gibson and Geddis, of the famous Bucks County outlaw Doan Brothers, came into the Inn and “behaved rudely”. Geddis placed his boot in a pan of Mrs. Piper’s buckwheat batter that was rising in the old chimney corner.
Eva threw a hot iron at the outlaw, severely breaking his arm below the shoulder. Gibson tried to strike her with the butt end of his whip.
But Eva retreated to a side room and brandishing the Colonel’s very own sword, drove the ruffians from the Inn. Geddis was unable to mount his horse, and had to walk a mile and a half to the farm of George Fox, where one Dr. Shaffer set his arm.
During the revolution, Colonel Piper was a captain in command of a company located at Blasck Rock, near Fort Washington, at the intersection of York and Easton Roads - a place where local Indians often held their councils of war... and sometimes sacrificed their prisoners. In order to raise money desperately needed for shoes and clothing for his Revolutionary War troops, he returned home. Eva took gold buried in an old crock in the cellar, which she had inherited, and gave it to George to help meet the “desperate needs” of his men.
The gold was placed in a pair of “old saddlebags”, and in the grey mist of the morning, George bid adieu to his dear wife and galloped off to attend to the needs of his men.
Subsequently, the government refunded the amount contributed by the Pipers in the new Continental Currency, which was ultimately deemed worthless. George & Eva had six children, three of whom fought in the Revolutionary War. Colonel Piper was one of the crowd in Philadelphia that listened to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
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.
In 1845, the town officially became Pipersville in honor of Colonel Piper, with the post office actually located inside the Tavern.
In 1884, the tavern and acreage was sold by Isaac Weaver to Jacob Crouthamel for $3,300, who built the present Victorian edifice on the actual site of the original tavern.
Over the course of 200 years,the tavern was also known as Keichline’sTavern, 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, who’s brother was a priest. Walter Conti, a past president of the National Restaurant Association, and his sons, Joe and Michael 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.