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 received his first license for the tavern in 1722 and operated it for “yea accommodation of Man and Horse” until his death in 1731, except for 1728 when the tavern was in financial difficulty and 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.
The Barns-Brinton House
630 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Vist the Barns-Brinton House on summer weekends, from 1 until 5 pm, from the Saturday before Memorial Day through the Sunday before Labor Day. Walk-in tours are only $10 for adults and $5 for students over 12. Members and children 12 and under are free. Also, tours can be scheduled year round for groups small and large. Contact the office at 610-388-7376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.