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Built in the 1740s, the Black Bass Hotel served as a haven for travelers, traders, and sportsmen. The famous tavern had many names through the years including Wall’s Tavern, Lumberville Hotel, Temple Bar, The Rising Sun and finally The Black Bass Hotel. As one of the oldest inns in the country, we are proud to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Bass seeps with a rich history. One of the most notable documents that while George Washington is known to have slept in several historic properties throughout the Delaware Valley, he notably did not stay at the Bass. As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington was turned away by the innkeeper of the Bass who was a Tory and loyal to the British Crown. He made it clear that Washington was not welcome to stay. Shortly thereafter, just 14 miles south, George Washington organized the first move in a surprise attack against the Hessian forces. He and his troops crossed the Delaware River to Trenton, NJ on the morning of December 26, 1776. This proved a decisive victory in the American Revolutionary War that helped turn the tides in American’s favor.
In 1833 a fire broke out in the Tavern resulting in extensive damage. Major Anthony Fry, the proprietor at the time, broke open the cellar doors and, at the risk of his own life, carried out a huge quantity of gunpowder that was being stored there. This stopped an inevitable explosion and saved the Bass from total destruction. We thought this feat worthy of naming one of our suites after him!
In the late nineteenth century, the Black Bass fell into decline and passed through several owners until it was purchased in 1949 by Herbert Ward. Herbie, as he was fondly known, rescued the Bass and ran it until just before his death 54 years later. He was passionate about history and was a devoted Anglophile. His expansive collection of British memorabilia, as well as hundreds of antiques and notable artwork, were lovingly restored under the guidance of the Thompson family. Herbie purchased the famed pewter bar in the Tavern at auction which originally resided in Maxim's of Paris.
The list of celebrities and notable folks that enjoyed the uniqueness and solitude of the Bass is a long one. Many English Lords and Ladies, President Grover Cleveland, Liza Minelli, Ethel Merman, Marlon Brando, Henry Ford and more recently Carlos Santana, Jack Bruce (Cream), Christian Slater, Marc Blucas, Diane Sawyer, Martina Navratilova to name a few.
In 2019 the final scenes of the movie, The Upside, featuring Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman and Kevin Hart were filmed at the Bass. The actors and film crew were captivated by the history and charm of our hotel.
Spirits & Lore
For generations rumors abound regarding memorable spirits associated with the Black Bass Hotel. During the renovations in 2009, several paranormal film companies requested the opportunity to set up their equipment to document any supernatural presence. They were not disappointed by their efforts as they captured various orbs and related activity during filming.
Some of the most significant spiritual lore includes:
In the early 1800s group of immigrant workers arrived in Solebury to build the Canal. Hans, who was the proprietor of the Bass at the time, got into a dispute with one of the workers and was ultimately stabbed to death. The barstool on which he was sitting is still in the Canal Bar. Some have seen him standing in the corner of the Bar. He is said to be a large, burly man lurking near the spot where he was murdered.
The men who died while working on the canal-either from disease or exhaustion-were placed in a makeshift morgue off of the Canal Bar. Their bodies were stored there until the boat made its way down the Delaware to retrieve them. Over the years, this room has been known to have unexplained, rapid drops in temperature. Some have reported hearing strange sobbings sounds emanating from the area, while others have relayed a sense of the hair suddenly raising on the backs of their necks as they walk towards this area.
Woman in White
A woman dressed in white has been seen wandering the halls of the hotel and sitting in a guest room with a pearl-handled revolver in her lap. According to legend, she found her husband and his mistress in one of the guest rooms. Distraught, she killed them, then turned the gun on herself. Guests have reported that her presence is precipitated by the smell of lavender.