Rides We Like: A Quick Passing of the Black Bass Hotel's History
(2017) Our story starts from across the street to the Black Bass Hotel, at the Lumberville General Store. Inspired to get out in the mid afternoon, I gave Jim of Mad Princes’ Brewing a scant five minutes heads up I was able to get out for a few miles. Impressively he threw together his kit and bike and met up with me as we rode toward one another. He was on a schedule to get to the brewery for the day, so our ride would be an expeditious affair.
Jim was the rider I blame for getting me addicted to coffee. He was the one that recommended an espresso in Lambertville instead of the hot chocolate I would always get. Halfway home from the coffee layover my stomach would churn. I concluded something had to change. I haven’t stopped drinking daily pots of it since. Naturally on our short ride, we concluded a stop for coffee at the Lumberville General Store would do the trick. We got coffee and caught up around an unlit fire pit.
While we talked, I noticed cars parking in the general store’s lot and the occupants rolling out dressed to the nines. Without a church nearby I simply could not figure out why everyone was so dapper on a Saturday. I would eventually piece together the well dressed people were crossing the River Road to the Black Bass Hotel for a wedding.
Considering the season it would be appropriate for red-coated guests to pass through the front door of the Black Bass Hotel. Should Jim and I attempt to enter the inn dressed as cyclists, we most certainly would be turned away. The Black Bass Hotel has an interesting past of turning at least one famous person away. I’m not saying we are famous, but we’re not done yet.
In gearing up for this year’s Rapha Festive 500, it has been contemplated to visit all of the houses in Bucks County at which George Washington has stayed. There are a total of four verified houses General Washington used as headquarters during his Pennsylvania campaign. One building that does not show up on the list is the Black Bass Hotel. It’s not because he didn’t try.
During the Revolutionary War the Black Bass Hotel was a haven for Red Coats. It is where the officers would toast to their Pennsylvania and New Jersey Loyalists. On one evening General Washington knocked on the door and asked to be put up for the night. Contrary to the outcome in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Spy, the innkeeper turned Washington away on account of the innkeeper's Tory beliefs. Hindsight is as they say, so imagine the innkeeper’s regret years later when the Continentals won the Revolutionary War.
Interestingly the hotel has allowed other guests who seem to have had larger influence than the founding father of the United States. According to the Black Bass Hotel's website, past residents include President Grover Cleveland, Liza Minelli, Ethel Merman, Marlon Brando, Carlos Santana, Christian Slater, Marc Blucas, Diane Sawyer, and Martina Navratilova. Recently the hotel was used as part of a movie called Untouchable featuring Nicole Kidman, Brian Cranston, and Kevin Hart. Yet George Washington is still on the ‘Not Invited’ list. Perhaps that’s why the first American president looks so glum on the dollar bill.
Jim and I finished up our coffee and conversation and made our way back. I rode back through what was once Tory farmland and could have been denied entry in any of the old farmhouses during the Revolution. Perhaps the next ride to Lumberville could include a red cycling jacket of some sort. Should we say we are Tories as we clickety-clack across the bar floor in cycling shoes we may be allowed entry. Perhaps that will be reenacted during the Rapha Festive 500 this year. The only problem is the food is phenomenal at the Black Bass Hotel. Being denied entry is a loss for me, not them.