National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
Mount Washington Tavern
The Mount Washington Tavern was one of the many taverns located along the National Road, the first highway built
by the Federal government. The tavern, constructed in the 1830s, was in operation during the heyday of the National
Road. James and Rebecca Sampey and their family owned and operated this imposing brick and stone building. The
Mount Washington Tavern catered to stagecoach clientele and was serviced by the Good Intent Stagecoach Line.
This tavern owes its name to George Washington, who, as a young man, fought a battle nearby. He returned 15 years
later to initiate the purchase of the land which he owned until his death in 1799.
Tired, sore, and stiff, travelers would enter the
tavern for an evening of good food, drink, warmth,
and conversation. A few tables and many chairs
would have filled the barroom and made for a very
congenial environment for gentlemen.
busy and noisy place. Men could swap tales of their
traveling the National Road between sips of rye
whiskey and puffs on a clay pipe or a stogie cigar.
They also chewed and spit, and indulged in games of
cards or checkers.
Ladies did not frequent the barroom. Their
reputations would have been tarnished if they had
entered this setting.
Taverns were required to have a license and there
were four considerations for licensing: financial
status of the innkeeper; location; facilities for the
public; and the ability of the innkeeper to discharge
The barroom, like modern bars or taverns, was a
Across the hall is the parlor. Ladies, children, and
gentlemen could rest in this pleasant atmosphere.
Here, travelers and local citizens could gather and
relax while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. They
would find out about other travelers, where those
folks were going, or talk about important issues or
events occurring in other parts of the country.
The parlor may have been the fanciest room in the
The only original piece of furniture from the
Sampey family is one small chair in this room. All
the other furniture is from the time period, but not
from this tavern.
The dining room might have been the busiest room
of the tavern.
Meals were served family-style with the traveler
seated at a long table surrounded by chairs or
One morning, 72 people were served breakfast.
Guest were allowed to eat as much as they liked,
but were often hurried as other coaches would be
arriving with hungry travelers waiting for a hot and
hearty meal. The price of a meal was about 25 cents
in the mid 1800s.
The Mount Washington Tavern was noted for its
good food and cleanliness. Food was prepared over
the open hearth until the cast iron cook stove came
three legs were called “spiders" and each one could
have a fire beneath it. The trammel hook on the
crane would be adjusted to various heights above
the fire to regulate the cooking speed.
Experience was the best teacher when learning how
to cook from the hearth, but was hard work and
time consuming. Heavy iron pots were required for
the high temperatures of an open fire. The pots with
An evening meal might include chicken, pork, wild
game, fresh trout, corn, and wheat bread with
Spending the night in a tavern would not be one of
the highlights of the trip. Beds were shared with
strangers and it was possible to have two or three
bed mates during the night. Travelers would arise at
all hours to get an early start on the road and
another tired wayfarer could crawl in that vacant
place in the bed.
Now, the Mount Washington Tavern's bedrooms
are on display. Furnishings for these rooms would
have been limited to mostly beds, two or three per
room, a few chairs, and a wash stand.
Today, the attic is used for storage. It is uncertain if
it was used for anything other than storage during
the stagecoach period. It is known that some
taverns provided overflow sleeping accommodations in the attic. This did not provide much
privacy for there would have been bed after bed,
dormitory style, in one large room
Presently, the basement is also used for storage.
When the Mount Washington Tavern was
operating, there was a working kitchen in the
basement. It was a large kitchen with adjoining fruit
and vegetable cellars.
Prosperity along the National Road came to an end
with the coming of the railroad. In 1855, the
executors of the James Sampey estate sold the
Mount Washington Tavern to Godfrey Fazenbaker.
The new owner’s family lived in the tavern building
for over 75 years and occasionally had a paying
guest spend the night.
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