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A Tale of Two Rivers    

Story and Photographs by Chris Poh

On the corner of Second and Northampton Streets in Easton, Pennsylvania, stands the cityís oldest surviving intact structure. This fine example of colonial architecture is further testament to the role of the tavern in the founding of America. When Jacob and Katrina Bachmann built their public house in 1753, they could not have foreseen that their establishment would play host to a number of those illustrious fellows that would propose, promote and prosecute a revolution. But in fact, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington toke advantage of the innís hospitality and comforts. And George Taylor, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, resided in the building for a number of years after purchasing the property in 1761. With its strategic location at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers, Easton would become a significant military center during the war with England. And Bachmannís Tavern would continue to do its part to attend to the social and political needs of a community caught up in the conflict.

Bachmann's Tavern in Easton, PA as seen in American Public House ReviewBachmann Tavern in Easton, Pennsylvania 

As America emerged from the shadows of its ongoing struggles with Great Britain, new ideas and forces would begin to shape the fledgling nation. The flow of rivers would be tapped in order to provide the navigable canal routes that would bring food, raw materials and finished goods to our cities and rural settlements. The flow of molten steel from blast furnaces would produce the tracks and trestles that would further hasten Americaís rise as an industrial power. And by the time Easton was incorporated as a city in 1887, it had already established itself as a major commercial and transportation hub because of its near equidistance from both New York and Philadelphia, its proximity to steel production in Bethlehem, and its easy access by way of water and rail to the rich anthracite coal deposits in northeastern Pennsylvania. As with any growing urban area, the need for suitable overnight lodging was always a concern. And the Mt. Vernon Hotel, located on the corner of Sixth and Northampton Streets, which was first constructed in the early 1800s would by the middle of the century undergo further expansion in order to meet the needs of those traveling for either business or pleasure. And by some accounts, illicit pleasures may have been the business from time to time at the old Mt. Vernon.

Confluence of The Delaware and Lehigh Rivers as seen in American Public House Review
Confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers

Courtesy of The Library of Congress     
Bethlehem Steel Works, Watercolor Signed May '81." By Joseph Pennell (Library of congress) in Bethlehem, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Bethlehem Steel Works, watercolor signed May, 1981. By Joseph Pennell

Railroad Bridge across the confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers as seen in American Public House Review
Railroad bridge across The Delaware River near the confluence of the Lehigh River

Building which housed the Mount Vernon Hotel and is now home to The Two Rivers Brewing Company as seen in American Public House Review
Detail from the building
which housed the Mount Vernon Hotel  .  .  .

Two Rivers Brewing Comapny in Easton, Pennsylvania
and is now home to the Two Rivers Brewing Company

During the Prohibition years, the hotel most likely operated in part as a speakeasy. And then there are those persistent tales of ladies forsaking feminine virtue in the interest of making a few extra dollars from battlefield bound soldiers seeking that potential final fling before departing for Europe and the Pacific during the Second World War. At warís end, the Kuebler brothers, who had owned the business since 1915, along with the Easton Brewery that bore their name, sold the hotel to Helen Snyder, who continued on with the operation until 1994. When Helen passed away on July 4th, 1998, the city was still feeling the effects of the changing economic landscape that had begun decades earlier. The middle class flight to the suburbs coupled to the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs to overseas markets had left most American cities in a state of decline. But as the new millennia approached, there was a very real sense that sustainable urban renewal was just around the corneróand this was certainly the case just around the corner from the Mt. Vernon Hotel.

A few paces up Sixth Street, a building, which had at one time served as a livery, became the home of the much acclaimed and welcomed Weyerbacher Brewery and Brewpub. Success and off-site demand for their product would force the owners to come to a difficult decision. In 2001, the brewpub was closed, and brewing operations were moved to a larger production facility elsewhere in the city. I, along with countless others, regretted the fact that Easton was again lacking that appropriate space where the only things needed to deliver freshly made lagers and ales to the discriminating palate were the talents of a capable brewer and the services of a cooperative bartender. Now with the opening of Two Rivers Brewing Company in the spacious confines of the former Mt. Vernon Hotel, that long awaited on premises craftsman to consumer relationship will be reestablished in downtown Easton.

Taps at Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Taps soon to be dedicated to fourteen original beers brewed on premises

Bar at Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, PA as seen in American Public House Review
 Altar of the hoppy (and happy) sacramental communion

Dining room at Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, PA as seen in American Public House Review

As of this writing, the brewery is still under construction on the upper floors of the building, but the original first floor bar is open for businessóand at present is featuring some of the outstanding achievements of other fine local brewers. Initially, I was going to wait for completion of the project before visiting the location and publishing an article. But in this particular instance, Iím very pleased to have opted for an earlier encounter, because there are really two stories to be told here. There is, of course, the usual speculation and anticipation attached to the birthing of any new brewpub. And with a former brewer from Delawareís distinguished Dogfish Head lending his creativity and expertise at Two Rivers, there is much for the beer quaffing public to be excited about.

But there is also the story of the building itself, and Iím glad to have taken the time to learn about its colorful pastóand to appreciate this perfectly appointed, classic American saloon. And much like Bachmannís Tavern during the founding days of Easton, Two Rivers Brewing Company is poised to fulfill its role in the renewal of purpose and spirit for those who choose to partake of lifeís flow at the confluence of the Lehigh and the Delaware.

(Editorís note) Jonathan DeMenno, our new resident beer expert, will be providing a follow-up article once the brewing operation is up and running at Two Rivers.

Logo at Two Rivers Brewing Company in Easton, PA as seen in American Public House Review
Two Rivers Brewing Company

542 Northhampton Street

Easton, Pennsylvania 18042

 (610) 829-1131


        Owners: Judy and Brad Nelson - --
Kathy and Troy Reynard        

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