The Spring House Tavern

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

"By the mid-1700's, the communities within the commercial sphere of Philadelphia were linked by a network of primitive roads. Major arteries, projecting like spokes from the city's hub, were connected by perpendicular-running smaller roads. Because travelers made their ways either on foot, horseback, or, wagon, frequent rest-stops were necessary... It wasn't long before entrepreneurs built inns and taverns at the busiest of these junctions, offering food, lodging, and 'pick-me-up' spirits..."

- Phil Johnson Ruth, 30

The Spring House Hotel is located on the busy intersection of Bethlehem and Sumneytown Pikes. The hotel was built in 1719, but it was later opened in 1763. It was said that Martin Shoemaker was the builder of the hotel to take advantage of the increased business.


The Revolutionary War

From the New Jersey Gazette (February 18, 1778)

During the American Revolutionary War, like Whitpain, George Washington's Continental Army marched through the village of Gwynedd while on their way to battle or leaving the battlefield during the Philadelphia Campaign.

"When Washington was on the Perkiomen, previous to his attack at Germantown, General McDougall's brigade consisting of about sixteen hundred men, was posted 'at Montgomery,' and from there it marched down to the battle, moving, no doubt, by the Bethlehem road to the Spring-House, and then down to Whitemarsh. After the battle, the current of the retreat swept upward through Gwynedd."

- Howard Malcolm Jenkins (1897)

The Spring House Hotel was used as a meeting place for General Lacey's soldiers during the war to discuss battle plans.

Read General John Lacey's letter to George Washington regarding his meeting at the Spring House Hotel here with General Lachlan McIntosh!

The most well-known owner at this time was Christian Dull (Doll) who came to Spring House in 1772 where he became the owner of the hotel in 1776. Christian supported the cause of the war, and he was appointed to collect supplies for Lacey and his soldiers at the hotel. He was chosen as captain of one of the companies in the 4th Battalion of the Philadelphia County Militia, commanded by William Dean. He was the innkeeper of the hotel until 1822.

Fun Fact #1: In 1804, ornithologist Alexander Wilson spent the evening at the tavern while on his way to the Niagara Falls from Philadelphia. Read his poem "The Foresters" mentioning the Spring House Tavern here!


Post-Christian Dull

After Christian Dull's ownership of the hotel, the hotel was gaining attention from people outside the village. Christian made improvements of the place and created an economical impact since the hotel is in a suitable location to travel from the city for travelers and market men.

Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the tavern in 1888, and it was rebuilt that same year.

Originally, the architecture of the tavern was Colonial, possibly Federal-style. With the new tavern built since 1888, its architecture is Second Empire-style with its mansard roof. There was a porch that went around the building, but it was replaced with an additional building for the first floor that also has a mansard roof to blend in with the original building.

Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station; J. D. Scott, Publisher
Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., 1916, Plate 29; A. H. Mueller, Publisher
Google Satellite View: 1032 N Bethlehem Pike, Spring House, PA 19477
Google Satellite Birdseye View: Looking West
An image/painting of the original Spring House Hotel before it was burnt down
The Spring House Hotel
Done by Photoshop; Created an interesting effect on the old Spring House Tavern
Clipping from Ambler Gazette (January 21, 1937): Page 5


Bean, Theodore W. History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Volume II. (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1884): 862-864.

"Google Maps Area Calculator Tool." DaftLogic. Accessed February 2, 2021.

Herman, Andrew Mark. Eastern Montgomery County. (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 1999): 75.

Jenkins, Howard Malcolm. Historical collections relating to Gwynedd, a township of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, settled, 1696, by immigrants from Wales, with some data referring to the adjoining township, of Montgomery, also settled by Welsh. (Philadelphia: Howard Malcolm Jenkins, 1897): 349-354, 401.

Mueller, A.H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Gwynedd, North Wales, Ambler, Royer's Ford, Limerick Station, 1877.

"The Spring House Tavern." Spring House Tavern. Accessed June 1, 2021.

#pahistory #gwynedd #lowergwynedd #springhouse #tavern #inn #hotel #revolutionarywar #british #historicpreservation #CRGIS #evaluated #bethlehempike #norristownroad #tories #fire #rebuilt

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