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Friday, January 30, 2015

The "The House were President Buchanan slept" Story

The Stockyard Inn viewed from the west side of the building.
The "Lookout" still remains on the roof of the old farmhouse.
It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Athena at the entrance to the Stockyard Inn in Lancaster, PA.  She and her husband Tom and son Jim are the owners of perhaps the oldest continuously operating steakhouse in the United States.  Carol commented to her that when we got home she must write a positive review on the website about our evening experience.  Seems there are a few negative comments about the service and food at the restaurant, but we found just the opposite to be true.  We have frequented the restaurant many times during our marriage and have never had a bad meal or experienced anything but prompt courteous service at the upscale restaurant.  My Crabmeat Au Gratin and Carol's and our son Tad's melt-in-your-mouth Filet Mignon done medium rare were fabulous.  The waitstaff was extremely attentive and courteous and the white linen tablecloths and napkins as well as the soft table lighting in the beautiful dining room made for an extremely memorable evening.  The reason for our trip to this beautiful building is to celebrate the recent birthdays of Carol and myself.  Our son Tad was kind enough to treat us to an evening of fine dining.  The building is the original farmhouse that was built in 1750 on the northeastern border of colonial Lancaster.  The lookout tower on the top of the farmhouse, which still remains, was an important feature to help scout hostile Indian attacks.  
The charm of hand-fashioned custom woodwork and elegant
table settings is the tradition of the Stockyard Inn. 
The original owner of the property remains unknown.  Samuel Stambaugh is the first recorded owner of the property when he purchased the property in 1835 for $2,500.  My childhood home is less than a quarter mile from this historic property on what is now State Route 501. Used to walk past it everyday while heading to Brecht Elementary School.  The most famous owner of the Stockyard Inn is perhaps James Buchanan who purchased the property in 1856 while he was President of the United States. In 1864 the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased the Inn as well as the 23 acres surrounding it with the intent of developing a stockyard along the railroad's main line.  In 1895 the stockyards was founded along the boundary of the city of Lancaster and Manheim Township.  Cattle, hogs, sheep and horses were sold and traded for the next hundred years until it's demise in the mid-1990s.  
This is one of my altered Polaroid prints that I did of the
Lancaster Stockyards before they were demolished.
More than one time as a child was I called into the house because cattle were running in the streets in front of our house.  The Lancaster Stockyards was the largest stockyards east of Chicago and the cattlemen found the Stockyard Inn to be a great place to find food and shelter.  On auction days you knew you could find the cattlemen in the barroom with their horses tied to the railing along the Inn's porch. That porch as well as the beautiful woodworking throughout the Inn still remain.  In 1952 the Stockyard Inn was sold to the Fournaris family who still are owners today.  The stockyards have disappeared, but the Inn still flourishes with their steaks being the centerpiece of the restaurant. Their steaks are hand-cut and trimmed in their own butcher shop.  Carol and Tad talked about having a filet for months.  Seems that every time Tad called to make reservations for the evening, they were filled.  Finally found an opening and we got to enjoy a fabulous meal in the old farmhouse.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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