Displaying items by tag: hotels
One of the benefits of working at the Historical Society of Montgomery County when you were born and raised in said county is getting to scratch old itches. I lived in walking distance of the Jarrettown Hotel and always wondered about its history.
I heard rumors while growing up that George Washington stayed in the hotel. Now I know how difficult that would have been since the hotel was built by Henry Houpt in 1847, almost fifty years after Washington's death. That doesn't mean that the hotel was immune from significant historical events. In May 1896 a tornado made its way through Upper Dublin. At that time, the hotel was owned by Charles Palmer. The hotel made it through just fine, but a shed close to the building was not so lucky.
The hotel passed through a number of hands and is still running today as a restaurant. Are you interested in the history of a building in Montgomery County? Then reach out to us via email, phone, or by visiting the historical society during our open hours and we will be happy to dive into history with you.
While removing old picture wires from our framed art works, I came across this piece.
It is a drawing of the King of Prussia Inn. I am uncertain when the piece was made, but the title indicates the artist drew the Inn as it would have looked circa 1760. There is no artist signature, but we know it was made for a Lyle Boulwar.
The King of Prussia Inn was founded in 1719. Over time, it evolved into a successful tavern and inn at the heart of the town. It thrived for two centuries before it was faced with location problems.
In the early 1950s, the PA Highway Department was planning to widen US Route 202. This was part of the preparation for the PA Turnpike and Schuylkill Expressway merger. Since the King of Prussia Inn was in the way of this project there were a lot of protests by the local population. Ultimately, US 202 was constructed around the Inn. Although the building was saved, it was difficult to access. The precarious location caused the Inn to close on June 28, 1952.
Over the next few decades, the Inn was vacant, leaving it vulnerable to weather and vandalism. The building received some upkeep by the King of Prussia Historical Society, volunteers, and local businesses in preparation for the Bicentennial in 1976. By 1997, PennDot was planning another highway expansion. Since the Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places, there were several calls for the building to be preserved.
On August 20, 2000, it was moved to land donated by PECO. The engineering involved in this project was so impressive, it earned the National Legacy Award for successful relocation and restoration in 2004. Today, the building housed the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, located on Bill Smith Boulevard.
Google Maps Street View Image August 2021
“KOP Inn History.” King of Prussia Historical Society. http://www.kophistory.org/kop-inn-history-part-1/
“15 Year Anniversary of King of Prussia Inn’s Move.” King of Prussia Historical Society, August 19, 2015. http://www.kophistory.org/15-year-anniversary-of-king-of-prussia-inns-move/
“At a Crossroads: The King of Prussia Inn.” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/articles/at-a-crossroads_teaching-with-historic-places.htm
For centuries, people with various ailments have traveled to mineral springs to drink and bathe in healing waters. The minerals in spring water were thought to heal skin conditions, ease indigestion, and cure many other complaints. In Montgomery County, Abington and Willow Grove were once well known for their mineral springs.
Thomas Hallowell was the first to advertise “Mineral Spaw Water” in 1768. Benjamin Rush wrote a pamphlet on the local water in 1773. He referred to it as “Abington Water” and claimed the water was high in iron. Thomas French was the first to build a bath, but he was followed by others who also offered accommodation, and the area around “Willow Grove Springs” soon became a popular country retreat.
In 1784, a blacksmith from Germantown named George Rex, bought 39 acres around the springs and developed a tavern and hotel called the Mineral Springs Inn. Rex had showers and plunging baths at his inn and advertised that visitors from Philadelphia could take a daily stage coach to his establishment. The hotel stayed in the family until 1865 when John Berrell bought it. Charles Ehrenpfort bought the hotel in 1890 and undertook a large expansion in 1895.
When Willow Grove Park was built on swamp land south of the springs a year later, it became the main attraction and the mineral waters were forgotten. Although the hotel stayed open and remained successful, few guests were drinking water. Prohibition hit the hotel’s business hard. It clsoed and was razed in the 1930’s.
Today, the location of the hotel and spring is the Veteran’s Memorial Park. In 2003, the Upper Moreland Historical Association began an excavation of the mineral spring with the goal of restoring it and incorporating it into the existing park. As part of the process, the Montgomery County Health Department tested the mineral content of the water and found it to be similar to the water throughout the county..
Sources: Weiss, Harry B. and Howard R. Kemble. The Took to the Waters: The Forgotten Mineral Spring Resorts of New Jersey and Nearby Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Past Times Press, Trenton, NJ, 1962.
Scwanger, Michael J. and Jean Barth Toll. Montgomery County: The Second Hundred Years. Montgomery County Federation of Historical Societies, Norristown, PA, 1983.
Upper Moreland Historical Association website, http://www.umha.com/pages/archaeology.html, accessed 4/1/2021.