In the early 1700s, blacksmith William Barns foresaw the need for a tavern on “ye Great Road to Nottingham,” then a major highway between Philadelphia and Maryland. So, in 1714, he built a spacious brick building that was to become a tavern. With a diamond-patterned gable and Flemish bond brickwork accentuated with black headers, the handsome building was aptly fitted for use as a tavern. There was a private side for the Barns family and a barroom with sleeping quarters above for weary travelers. Further evidence of the building’s use as a tavern exists in the cellar. There are a total of five niches in the foundation walls. They would have been put to good use, to keep “bevriges” and foodstuffs cool — the unusually large niche probably held a keg. Barns first requested a license for the tavern in 1722 and operated it for “yea accommodation of Man and Horse” until at least 1726. In 1728, when the tavern was in financial difficulty, the license was “not allowed.” When he died in 1731 he was in debt to 78 neighbors.
The house changed owners several times after Barns’ death. In 1753, the house and farmland were purchased by James Brinton, grandson of William Brinton, one of the earliest settlers in the area. He was the owner in 1777 during the Battle of Brandywine. Extant diaries from that time make no particular mention of a brick building, but claims filed after the Battle show that the Barns Tavern did, indeed, suffer damages.
Historic Gardens at the Barns-Brinton House
The Kennett Square Spade & Trowel Club donates their time and resources to the upkeep of the Barns-Brinton House kitchen garden. The kitchen garden was designed by the Spade & Trowel Club and every year they select herbs and plants that would have been found in an 18th century garden. Some interesting plants featured in the garden this year are hops, sorrel, lovage, bee balm and horehound. The garden is open for visitors to explore whenever they visit the Barns-Brinton House.
Learn more about the Spade & Trowel Club here.
The Barns-Brinton House
630 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Visit the Barns-Brinton House on summer Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.