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Aug. 31, 2007 | General Lafayette to toast its 275th year
THERE'S SOMETHING romantic about an old inn. The etched walls, the burnished woodwork, the thick, exposed beams, the comfortably creaky floors - you can feel the history.
"There's always something," Leonard shrugged.
But even after yet another 60-hour work week, Leonard's eyes still sparkled when he talked about his Lafayette Hill brewpub. "Over there" - he gestured to where the pool table sits - "that was the original structure. It goes back to 1732. How many restaurants can say that?
"I mean, it's just so old. . . . I feel like I have a responsibility in owning this building, to keep it from disappearing. The responsibility of maintaining this place as a cornerstone to the community is not lost on me."
Standing just outside the city along Germantown Pike (at Church Road), the inn almost certainly got its start as a simple roadside tavern, a rest stop for traveling merchants and a meeting place for local farmers.
Its history is sketchy, but early on it was known as the Three Tuns, which suggests someone might've been brewing beer, perhaps in its cool, dark cellar.
There's no record that George Washington ever slept there, but Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, probably stopped in for a cold one.
Lafayette was the legendary French aristocrat who served under Washington as a major-general at the age of 19. His military honors are vast, but in the town that bears his name he's best known for his encampment of 1778 at what was then called Barren Hill.
In the months after Washington's winter at Valley Forge, Lafayette used the high terrain around the inn as an outpost to keep an eye on British movements out of Philadelphia.
After the war, the battle-damaged inn was renovated, and in the next 150 years, it expanded. But it wasn't until the 1940s that it was known as the General Lafayette. The brewery was added in 1996.
Two hundred and seventy-five years: a lot of history, a lot of beer. The inn will celebrate it all tomorrow at noon with food, fun and entertainment. A few tickets are still available ($40), and attendees will get a taste of General Lafayette 275th Anniversary Ale, a powerful (13 percent alcohol) barleywine brewed by Leonard and his assistant, Russell Czajka.
Info and tix at 610-941-0600 or www.generallafayetteinn.com.
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