Ever been to Intercourse, Pennsylvania? Well, neither have I, but now that I have your attention, how about Paradise? Intercourse village was nearby. I could have gone there, but couldn’t find anything in print or online to lure me the extra few miles beyond that it was in picturesque Amish country. But then, the whole area is in picturesque Amish Country. Intercourse was founded in 1754 and was originally named Cross Keys, after a local tavern. The village’s claim to fame appears to be that it was the junction of two major post roads back in the day, the Old King's highway from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh as well as the road from Wilmington to Erie. They intersected in the middle of town, which might be the source of its suggestive sounding name. Although there is also the theory that because intercourse was the term commonly used to signify fellowship and social interaction, it made sense as a name for a rural village where these activities were pursued.
Anyway, I didn’t actually go to Intercourse, but I did go to Paradise. I had some research to do for a book I’d like to write some day and a fellow author pointed me in this direction. Like Intercourse, Paradise is a stop along a colonial post road, this one between Philadelphia and Lancaster. But here there is a wonderful old tavern, once called Sign of the Spread Eagle that was once an upscale place that catered to the more prosperous traveler. Fine food and wine would have been served and the rooms luxurious by standards of those days offering well-appointed surroundings for wealthy travelers tired from a long day in a poorly sprung stage coach.
The tavern is now called Revere Tavern, and I would have liked to envision its rooms echoing with the voices of now famous colonial representatives to the Continental Congress who fled to Lancaster when the British moved into Philadelphia. But that wasn’t possible since the place became the home of Reverend Edward Buchanan and his wife, Eliza Foster Buchanan in 1841. Eliza’s brother Stephen Foster may very well have written some of his most famous songs while visiting his sister here. Then in 1854 the building was purchased by Edward’s brother, James Buchanan, future 15th president of the United States. So there is quite an illustrious past to this beautiful old building.
My dinner there was perfect from the first course to the last. My only regret being that there was no fire in either of the big fieldstone fireplaces that graced the dining room. After my dinner, I got chatting with the hostess who insisted on showing me the rest of the rooms on the ground floor. We ended up in the bar itself, the oldest part of the building. There, to my delight, a fire did burn in the grate behind the bar. I moved in to take a photo and got caught up in a conversation with a couple who were eating at the bar. Apparently they travel this way often and always stop for the bar dinner. As we continued to chat, it occurred to me that I was taking up bar space, so I slid onto a stool and ordered a marguerite so we could continue comparing notes on places we’d been and liked, including this lovely old tavern.
When it was time to leave, I had yet another lovely surprise in store. I had booked a room in what is called the old farmhouse, right next door to the Revere Tavern. Built in 1790 of the same hefty granite as the tavern, it now houses several guest rooms and is part of a Best Western with a far more modern building out behind. When I’d booked this room, the woman had tried to warn me that it’s RIGHT ON THE HIGHWAY and might be noisy, but being the history nut that I am, I ignored her. I was glad that I had – especially when I inspected my room and found a luxurious big Jacuzzi right in my room. I had a lovely, hot, bubbling bath, then retired for the night in accommodations that would have done the original upscale posting house proud.
My reading didn’t reveal any outstanding events for this little town in southeast Pennsylvania: no skirmishes or major battles in either the Revolutionary or Civil wars, no famous residents beyond James Buchanan and Steven Foster, not even a monument. But it was a wonderful place to stop for the night and I hope one day to travel that way again.