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COCKTAILS

   Back to School at Becker’s Corner                

Story and Photography by Chris Poh


I have always taken an interest in those bars and restaurants that were in another lifetime places that served a very different purpose: churches that were converted into dance clubs, train stations that became taverns, brewpubs that were constructed from industrial buildings, and the parlors of once stately homes that are now comfortable pubs. But during my travels I have only twice come upon a former schoolhouse that was to find new life as a public house. For someone who spent a good deal of his adolescent education attempting to introduce libations into the learning process, these particular settings evoke a certain fond satisfaction.


During our first year of publication we featured one of New England’s most revered taprooms, the Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut. The section of the building that houses the original tavern room began its existence as an 18th century schoolhouse that, with the help of some muscular chaps, a few logs and a bit of Yankee ingenuity, was rolled down Main Street and attached to the existing inn. There were I suspect a few alumni on hand that applauded the school’s conversion to a place dedicated to some higher education. But since my forays into New England are few and far between these days, I was very pleased to discover that there was a great bar with a similar pedigree within striking distance of my home in New Jersey. 

The Stover School was that classic one-room schoolhouse that began providing the youngsters of Quakertown and the neighboring hamlets with a formal education in the late 1800s. But perhaps being a bit more indicative of the qualities of those sturdy German and Dutch farmers that settled this area of Pennsylvania, the school was built of stone, as opposed to those clapboard style buildings that dotted the landscape of much of rural America. Today one can appreciate the beauty of the original stonework thanks in part to the masonry talents of Ray Niemy, a beloved and respected regular, who took part in the building’s restoration a number of years ago while the tavern was still operating as Cappies. More recently the property was purchased by Mona and John Becker, who changed the name of the business to Becker’s Corner, and who were also responsible for the outstanding additional improvements to the bar’s interior.

A couple of weeks back, I caught up with Ray Niemy at Becker’s. He admitted to me that he was well under the legal drinking age when he was first served there. But back in 1937, his teacher at the Stover School was serving milk and cookies instead of Budweiser. We spoke at length about the changes and varied experiences one is a party to during a lifetime that had spanned some eighty years. In between his insights, I received a great tutorial about microbrews from the always congenial Kirsten, who is behind the bar on most weekdays. Her knowledge of beer rivals anyone in the industry. And this is only fitting, since it was the ladies of the house that were mostly responsible for the brewing of beer during our nation’s colonial period.

Kirsten at Becker's  Corner in Quakertown, PA
Kirsten is the weekday bartender


After some enlightening conversation, and having allowed the hops from a couple of pints of Sly Fox IPA to work their magic, I wandered over to nearby Lake Nockamixon. From the shoreline I enjoyed the fading light of an early September evening as a mother duck watched over her young, and across the water an experienced helmsman attempted to show a novice sailor the ropes. These surrounding reminded me that in this life there is always something new to be learned from those that have traveled the road before us, and at Becker’s Corner—school is always in session—and the education is always a very pleasant experience!






Bar at Bbecker's corner in  Quakertown, PA
The teacher's desk at Becker's Corner



Dining Room at Becker's Corner in Quakertown, PA
. . . and the classroom!



Bell at Becker's Corner in Quakertown, PA
Time for school?



Ray Niemy at Becker's Corner in  Quakertown, PA
Ray Niemy


ducks on Lake Nockamixon near Becker's Corner in Quakertown, PA
Ducks on lake Nocamixon






Becker's Corner


110 Old Bethlehem Road

Quakertown, Pennsylvania 18951

215-536-3220


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