Fort Necessity National Battlefield | MOUNT WASHINGTON TAVERN

Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

In addition to preserving the battlefield where the first shots of the French and Indian War began in 1754, Fort Necessity National Battlefield is where the National Park Service commemorates the National Road, the first road built with federal money in the United States. It was designed to connect settlers of the Ohio River Valley to the east coast cities. Construction took place from 1811 through 1837. The road ran from Cumberland, Maryland, on the Potomac River to Vandalia, Illinois. It was supposed to end in St. Louis on the Mississippi River, but funding ran out.

As the road increased in popularity, towns and businesses sprang up along it. Mount Washington Tavern, which was named for George Washington, was one such business. The structure itself was built in the 1830s by Nathaniel Ewing, who then sold it in 1840 to James and Rebecca Sampey. The Sampeys turned it into a tavern and hotel that catered to travelers on the Good Intent Stagecoach Line—the tavern was a scheduled stop. The tavern remained in business until the early 1850s. The Sampeys sold it to Godfrey Fazenbaker in 1855. Fazenbaker and his family used it as their residence for the next 75 years.

Mount Washington Tavern still stands today and is now part of Fort Necessity National Battlefield. It is typically open to visitors from May through October between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. A visit to the tavern is self-guided. You can see the entire house in about fifteen minutes.

Backside of Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Backside of Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Visitors can either drive to the tavern (3414 National Pike) or walk from the Fort Necessity National Battlefield Visitor Center on a .35-mile trail that begins at the back of the building. The path starts out paved, switches to a mowed grass swath that passes through a meadow for a short distance, then becomes paved once again all the way to the tavern. The scenery is very nice, but a quarter mile of the walk is uphill, with the very last stretch being fairly steep. If you have trouble walking up hills, drive to the tavern.

Trail to Mount Washington Tavern begins at the back of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield Visitor Center

Trail to Mount Washington Tavern begins at the back of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield Visitor Center

Trail to Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield passes through a meadow

Trail to Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield passes through a meadow

Last 200 yards of the walk to Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield is up a steep hill

Last 200 yards of the walk to Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield is up a steep hill

The rooms of Mount Washington Tavern are decorated as they might have been when the tavern was open for business. The furniture is of the time period, but other than a chair in the parlor, none of it was owned by the Sampeys or ever used at the tavern. Plaques give basic information about each room; all are a very quick read.

BAR ROOM

The bar room was a man’s domain. Here male guests drank liquor, smoked, gambled, and talked.

Bar room of the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Bar room of the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

PARLOR

While the men socialized in the bar, woman and children did the same in the parlor, which was the most lavishly furnished room in the house. Men were welcome as well, though the bar was their preferred hang out. Coffee and tea were the staples served here.

Parlor of the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Parlor of the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

DINING ROOM

The dining room was where meals were served to guests. Everyone sat around one table, not individual tables as today’s customers would expect. A typical meal cost 25¢.

Dining room of the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Dining room of the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

BEDROOMS

The Sampey family and guests slept in the upstairs bedrooms. There are seven on the second floor. Rooms, and even beds, were shared by strangers, nobody expected fresh linens, and customers often slept on the floor. Bedbugs were common in inns of the time, though not necessarily at the Mount Washington Tavern. Most overnight guests arrived on the late stagecoach and departed before sunrise the next day.

One of seven bedrooms at Fort Necessity National Battlefield's Mount Washington Tavern

One of seven bedrooms at Fort Necessity National Battlefield’s Mount Washington Tavern

One of seven bedrooms at Fort Necessity National Battlefield's Mount Washington Tavern

One of seven bedrooms at Fort Necessity National Battlefield’s Mount Washington Tavern

One of seven bedrooms at Fort Necessity National Battlefield's Mount Washington Tavern

One of seven bedrooms at Fort Necessity National Battlefield’s Mount Washington Tavern

Outside the Mount Washington Tavern is a Conestoga wagon, the most common vehicle on the National Road. These were used to haul goods across the country, similar to today’s trucks. The wagon and the building it is displayed in are part of a memorial dedicated to the Searight and Shuman families, two pioneer families who lived in western Pennsylvania. These people have no historical significance, it’s just that a descendant wanted to erect a memorial to them.

Conestoga wagon on display outside the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Conestoga wagon on display outside the Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield

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Last updated on February 15, 2023
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