Fayette County, PA
The Peter Colley Tavern, Brier Hill, PA (MAP IT)
The Peter Colley Tavern is a stone building, with a wood barn beside, on the National Road west of Uniontown, PA. The tavern appears to be in stabile condition but it's evident it hasn't been occupied for some time. The barn is still standing but deterioration is evident. (See more photos)
From Thomas Searight's The Old Pike:
One mile west of Hatfield's is the old Peter Colley stand. It is a stone house on the south side of the road. Peter Colley was the father of Abel Colley, and an early settler. He kept a tavern on the old road before the National Road was made. He was a money maker, and owned the land on which his tavern was erected, in fee. He was probably the first man on the National Road who acquired the fame of having a barrel of money. Old pike boys said he kept his money in a barrel. Peter Colley was well advanced in years when the National Road was made, and did not long enjoy the profits of the new highway. At his death his tavern passed to the hands of his son George, who kept it for many years, and until he followed his father to the unknown world. George Colley lived to see and lament the decline of business on the road, and after his death his house was discontinued as a tavern. The hills on either side of this old house are among the highest on the road, the summit of the western range being twelve hundred and seventy-four feet above the level of the sea. In the olden time, as before stated, extra horses, called "the postilion", were required to aid the stage coaches in ascending these hills.
The Peter Colley Tavern was one of nine taverns or inns along the National Road between Uniontown and Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Of the nine, it was the only one known to predate the 1818 opening of the road. It was supposedly built by Colley during 1756 upon land for which he had filed a warrant in 1786. Therefore, he was one of the earliest tavern keepers of the area.
His house, which also served as a tavern, is distinctive because it was typical of stone house and tavern architecture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was built in a basically Georgian style with a central hallway on each of two floors. The houses were built, in at least Fayette County, not by German stonemasons as has often been assured but, as the tax records show, by Welsh, English and Scots-Irish masons. Therefore, their construction represents a folk craft largely unheralded in the region. The Colley Tavern's radiating window, door and fireplace voussoirs, its previously existing corner fireplaces, the use of window wells and its construction into an earthen bank may represent a non-Germanic as well as a Germanic cultural tradition in Pennsylvania.
The tavern also remains significant today in that the collar kitchen with the original dirt floor and wooden manteled walk-in fireplace and connecting food storage room complete with 67 wrought iron meat hanging hooks remains intact. Likewise, regaining intact is the original barroom, barroom fireplace, and an 1830 or 1840 bar complete with the beverage pass-through area, locking device on that door and the wooden door to cover the interior glass window at the roar of the bar.
Adding further to the significance of the tavern is its relationship to the original limestone surface of the National Road; the road passed within ten feet of the front door. To the southeast of the tavern, this same road surface has beer, located within a few feet of the Colley barn. The barn was built in 1848 by two carpenters of probably English ancestry who used queen posts superstructure construction but who did not use a ridge pole.
The Peter Colley Tavern was built about 1796. In shape the tavern represents an "L", with the longer extension on the east end of the "L" or thus J. The tavern was built in two parts with the member or horizontal being the earliest.
The earlier section is three bays across and two rooms deep and measures approximately 35 feet by 25 feet. It is a 2-1/2 story stone gable structure with chimneys at each gable end and a central hall. Built into a bank, one is able to enter the first floor front at the ground level and the basement at the rear ground level. The tavern is constructed of sandstone in a random course style. It has a boxed cornice and wooden shingle roof. A small hip roof porch covers all three bays of the ground floor front. The porch will be taken off and replaced in the future. The porch was built in the late nineteenth century. Windows on the first floor front and rear contain radiating arches with keystones, while the second floor ones do not.
The room plan of the first floor consists of two rooms to the left of the central hallway, each containing a fireplace. To the right of the hallway is a large room running the entire depth of the house with a large fireplace in it. The upstairs of this section contained four rooms, two on each side of the hall, three of which contained fireplaces.
The section comprising the addition runs back about 44 feet and is 16 feet across. This section also contains a fireplace on the upper floor and kitchen fireplaces on the lower level. Similar to the earlier section, it is a 2-1/2 story gable structure built of sandstone. It is joined at the right rear of the earlier building with an entry way at the basement level.
All of the windows of this section have solid stone lintels, only one of the windows in this section appears to be original, while some of the moulding of the original structure remains.
In the entire house there are ten fireplaces. Eight of these were for heating while two cellar fireplaces were for cooking. Although all of the fireplaces had either been converted at some time to coal burning with cast iron gates or blocked completely, they are, with the exception of the kitchen fireplaces, operable at present.
Besides the tavern, only a bank barn remains of the original complex. The barn, which is of the queen post construction with seven windows (originally louvers) in each end, has swinging doors accessing the threshing floor and swinging doors allowing entry to the sheds, granary, and lower level. The hay mows, granary and sheds have been removed from the barn but their replacement would be relatively simple since the barn has not been structurally modified.
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