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       THE QUINTESSENTIAL COLONIAL TAVERN whitw logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH


The Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American PUblic House Review
THE BLACK BASS HOTEL IN LUMBERVILLE, PA

I love the word, "quintessential" and I tend to abuse it on a fairly regular basis. Depending on my mood and locale, I might hang this title on several other historic taprooms and inns scattered throughout the thirteen original colonies. From Boston to Savannah, there are a handful of storied rooms whose wide-planked floors have been gouged by the heavy boot heels of agents intent on completing the king's business, and scuffed by the worn leather soles of men worried about taxes, yellow fever, and failed crops.


D
THE BLACK BASS HAS A TORY LEGACY


Many of these places have taken on a museum like atmosphere, that, while interesting, tend to put undue limitations on one's own curious nature.  I often find myself waiting to be shushed or told to put the blunderbuss back on the mantle. So perhaps it is accessibility more than anything else that gives the BLACK BASS HOTEL an edge over its colonial counterparts.

My own association with the establishment began in the mid 1980's. Since that time many hours, with ale in hand, have been spent exploring the spoils and remnants of two hundred and sixty years of American and English history that fill the rugged framework of  this delightful retreat on the Delaware River.


dining room at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review


Located just a few miles north of the heights from which Washington kept a watchful eye on the British prior to his audacious attack on the Hessian Troops billeted in Trenton, one might expect to find the usual spirit of 76 accoutrements that adorn most colonial inns. But here one is more likely to see a portrait of George the Third rather than the venerable master of Mount Vernon. As was the case with many of the areas population during that period, the innkeepers remained loyal to the crown.

That small matter of personal politics has helped to shape the unique charm and atmosphere of the Black Bass Hotel. Preserved within its walls are three centuries of the stories and struggles of both the old and new world - the American experience with a European flare.


bottles at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review


On a recent afternoon, I find myself once more engaged in a bit of fanciful time travel. While clutching a tankard of English Pale, I stop to run my free hand across the pewter bar brought over from Maxims in Paris.


The bar at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review






I wander upstairs to sit on the balcony of the guest room President Grover Cleveland favored during his stays. I watch kayakers glide beneath the structure of the Roebling Footbridge that spans this stretch of the Delaware. The summer heat and an empty glass drive me back inside. I take my second beer at the original bar located in the wine cellar. I straddle a bench made from a tree that sprouted long before Europeans walked the forests of North America. My eyes scan the stone walls that provided refuge to canal boatmen seeking repast and recreation.



Before taking my leave, I stop to admire a handsome antique chair in the main parlor. Then, after an exchange of pleasantries with my host, I step back into the 21st century. As I make my way across the footbridge back to new Jersey, a bold declaration disrupts my daydreams. It occurs to me at this point in time, that I have just left the quintessential colonial tavern.



OUTSIDE THE BLACK BASS


gate behind the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review


It is a clear, brisk, spring afternoon, and I find myself once more standing over a small piece of ground across from the Black Bass Hotel. it is a rare occasion indeed when my enthusiasm for the exterior of a great tavern matches my intrigue of its inner workings.


Grave of Sputnik behind the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review


I read the names of the fallen companions etched in the small blocks of quarried granite and marble: Sputnick(sp), Hansel Extra Wicked, and Tallulah Wiggle. There are several others who lay beneath this patch of moss and wild flowers; the cherished  feline friends of the former owner of the hotel, who has also now passed on


The grave of Hansel Extra Wicked behind the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review


I smile as the name Tallulah quietly passes over my lips, and I remember the calicoes and tabbies that have touched my life. A cat is very much like a good tavern. They provide solace and shelter, and when you allow yourself the privilege of existing within their space, time can almost come to a halt. The harshness of life is softened.


The grave of Tallulah Wiggle behind the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, PA as seen in American Public House Review


Miss Wiggle kept her dance card full from November of 1947 through early May of 1954. I can imagine her sitting on top of the kitchen table surrounded by knotty pine cabinets and avocado colored appliances, helping to comfort a young man dealing with the red scare, war on the Korean Peninsula and fears of the atomic age.

A note book computer sits on my kitchen table. The fingers of a not so young man tap out these words as the invisible paws of departed caretakers stroll by. Again, in my mind's eye, I see the graveyard, and once more I softly exhale the litany on names: Sputnick , Hansel Extra Wicked and Tallulah Wiggle. I look around my kitchen, and the litany continues: Blackie, Baby Squeaks, and Edgar Allan . . .

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