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Monday, October 24, 2016

The "A Real Or Fake Hoar House In Lancaster" Story

It was an ordinary day. Searching the Internet for something and I just came across an old list of restaurants with funny names.  What's even more unusual is one of them was a restaurant that used to be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Place called The Hoar House on South Prince Street in downtown Lancaster.  I'm not sure if I ever ate there, but it eventually was renamed McFly's Pub and then in 1993 changed to The Center City Grille.  The name of the restaurant is rather funny, but the story behind how it got it's name, if that story is true or not, is just as interesting.  Allegedly in 1873 the good people of Lancaster decided that the city needed a first class hotel.
An old postcard of The Stevens House in downtown Lancaster.
It was to be built in the first block of South Prince Street and named after Thaddeus Stevens, the prominent Lancaster resident who was a member of the United States House of Representatives and who helped lead the way to abolishing slavery.  Mr. Stevens had died five years earlier.  The only problem was that the panic of 1873 took over and selling the stock to help build it became a chore.  
A later view of the Stevens House.
So, someone came up with the idea that the hotel would be named after the person who had bought the most stock.  Well, the prestige of having a first-class hotel named after you really boosted sales.  Finally the day arrived and ... yep, you guessed it.  Guy by the name of Jacob Hoar had purchased the most stock.  Can't imagine what everyone thought when they announced what the place was to be called.  But, those in command decided it was to be the Stevens House after all.  So eventually someone got the idea that Mr. Hoar had waited long enough and decided that the restaurant at the hotel would be called The Hoar House.  
A Hoar House matchbook cover.
But wait! While doing some online research for my story I found on a site about old time Lancaster that one poster stated, "The story is an awesome total fabrication made up in 1975 or so by a part owner of the restaurant.  His name was Dickie Doo (actually Gerry Granahan) from the local rock group Dickie Doo and the Don'ts.  He had his office along the King Street side of the hotel."  Then I found on another website that The Hoar House Restaurant is a Pennsylvania Fictitious Name. There was a filing in Lancaster County Courthouse to that effect and the file was dated February 21, 1979.  So, what should I believe?  It was reported in another posting that in 1990 The Hoar House was picked as one of the best places you used to be able to go for Happy Hour. So, did The Hoar House ever exist?  Just happened to be looking on eBay and found of all things, a matchbook cover for The Hoar House in Lancaster. Said, The Hoar House and Mame's Lounge, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Jeez, now I have to start to try and find information about Mame's.  Maybe she was the Madame of the Hoar House.  That's enough for now!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 


  1. Yes it absolutely did exist. It was opened up by a close friend of mine. In the 70's we were both in our 20's and hung out at the Tally Ho. He very much loved black tie/formal and his family was well off. He decided to open the James Hoar House at the Stevens - very tongue in cheek to the life we lived. He loved the idea that he "ran a Hoar House." LOL

  2. when I was a yout we went on a family vacation to Lancaster. There wasn't a lot to keep us entertained evenings so we got mischievous and perused the yellow pages to make prank calls. imagine our delight when we found this place. "Hoar House" "Hello, do you have crabs?" "I'm sorry sir, we don't have crabs this evening." "Great then I'll take a blonde to go." Curiosity got the best of us and we ended up going there for dinner one night. Despite the absence of crabs from the menu, the food was excellent.