Monday Escape: Red Brick Tavern in Lafayette

Red Brick and Windows

Reported to be Ohio’s second-oldest stagecoach stop (oh, just the thought of stagecoaches is exciting, isn’t it?), The Red Brick Tavern of Lafayette, Ohio has stood on National Road in one form or another since 1836. Being on a bit of a mission, I was unable to stop for more detailed photographs, but will no doubt happen by the Tavern again at some point.

There’s a paucity of information about the Tavern online, but I did find a few tidbits, among them the facts that the red brick for which the tavern is named was made of clay taken from a nearby field, and the wood trim and floors inside are nearly all from Zanesville, Ohio. Unfortunately, the timing was not quite right; railroads were beginning to gain traction with travellers, and the Red Brick Tavern closed to the public in 1859, becoming a private residence. Happily, the advent of automobiles created more demand for such accommodations, and the Tavern reopened in 1924.

Red Brick Tavern, U.S. Route 40, Lafayette, Madison County, OH HABS OHIO,49-LAFA,1-1
Based on the cars, I’d say this photo dates to the mid-1930s. Photograph by the Historic American Buildings Survey. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, OHIO,49-LAFA,1-1, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As you probably expect, the main floor consists of the dining room, bar, and kitchen (the bar has been gone since 1929, and you surely know why); the twelve rooms used by guests were upstairs. Travel was not exactly glamourous in the early days, however exciting—travellers often shared their bed with strangers in such establishments through the late 1800s, because that’s how it was done, especially in what was then the semi-frontier of Ohio. However, I doubt any of the six presidents who visited the Red Brick Tavern—John Quincey Adams, John Tyler, Warren G. Harding, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor—had to share their room. Each president who visited the Tavern has had a steak dinner named for him, though I don’t know if there’s a Tippecanoe Banana Split with which to follow up your William Henry Harrison or John Tyler steak.

Main Street

Right next door…And no, you can’t tell I got turned around, can you?

While quite a few members of the Watsons, the family who originally owned the tavern, were born within its walls, it is now owned and operated as a restaurant by newcomers—though descendants of the Watson family remain in the area.

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