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Family Homesteads - The Springbrook Tavern aka The Fountain House

By Rebecca Price Janney, Mar 23 2017 01:13PM

Do you have a particular family homestead, either a venerable historic place or a fond house where you spent some important years? I always think in terms of my Grammy Kocher’s twin where so many family gatherings occurred over the years and where I lived during college. There’s another place, though, one I didn’t realize was even my family’s until recent years.

When I was growing up, I passed the Springbrook Tavern hundreds, maybe thousands of times, but I don’t remember really noticing the 18th century building back then. Are you like that? You live near a place others would find fascinating, but because it’s always just been there, you barely see it. I would give a lot now to be able to see the the Springbrook again, but I can’t.

Two miles from the center of Easton, at the corner of 25th and Northampton Streets in what is now Palmer Township, the Springbrook Tavern, aka the Fountain House, first came into existence at the hand of my five-times great grandfather, Peter Kichline, Jr. (1750-1828) A Lieutenant in the American Revolution, Kichline built the two-and-a-half story, stone edifice along the Bushkill Creek near a spring. According to various accounts, he made a trough in the western end of the cellar through which the water ran, and there he kept trout until they were needed to feed his guests. Trout was, therefore, a specialty of the house for travelers making their way west and north out of Easton in the early days.

I also have read when Kichline first built the tavern in 1794, he inscribed the following on an exposed stone in the western gable: “P.K. 1794.”

In the 1880s, the owners of the Fountain House built a clapboard frame addition. I’m not sure at what point the place became known as the Springbrook Tavern, but my parents and others have told me they remembered going there over the years.

In 1978 the old tavern was torn down, and a Silo appliance store erected in its place. That upstart business, however, did not stand the test of time like my ancestor’s did—now there’s a Dollar Store on the premises. I wish historic preservation had been in the 70s what it is today when most people are loathe to destroy 18th century properties. Then the Fountain House could continue to delight more generations. Still, I can’t help but wonder what archeological treasures might lie underneath that parking lot! Is anyone up for a dig?

Image Courtesy of Preston Keith Hindmarch, Aardvark Graphics, Easton, PA
Image Courtesy of Preston Keith Hindmarch, Aardvark Graphics, Easton, PA
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