Submitted and published in the Langhorne Ledger by Sally Valone of the Historic Langhorne Association
In the center of Langhorne Borough where the two Indian trails crossed, Maple Ave. ( the original Lincoln Highway or Rte 1) and Bellevue Ave. (the road from Bristol to Durham) sits another historic building – The Langhorne Hotel. Directly across the street from the Richardson House, a log and stone building was built about 1700 by William Huddleston. Although the tavern was in existence for several years, the record of the first license is dated 1724 when the Quarter Sessions Court of the Colonies granted the owner of that building a license to keep a “House of Entertainment.” The tavern was known as the “Tavern at Attleboro” which the village was called in 1737 until it became Langhorne. In 1738 James Drake’s Stage would leave Third Street, Philadelphia before the “rising of the sun” and breakfast at Four Lanes End on his route to New York.
There were many different owners during the following decades and many architectural changes. From a small two and one-half story tavern with a peaked roof, by the late 1800’s the tavern had become a three story flat-roofed building with several additions that enlarged the structure. In the hotel yard, there was a large livery stable with stalls for twenty horses, a two story carriage house that was used to store wagons, carriages, and sleighs when not in use. Along the west side of the stable yard was a row of double sheds for the horses and wagons of the hotel’s transient guests.
In 1905 George G. Ehrlen purchased the Langhorne Hotel as it was named, and under his ownership it was a typical country inn surrounded by a prosperous farming community. Meals were served and lodging offered to travelers. In 1910 a daughter, Ruth was born at the hotel that also served as the family residence. Ruth Ehrlen Irwin is still alive and living in the (Signature House) next door. She holds many pictures, the deeds and many bits of history surrounding the Langhorne Hotel at that time. She recalls many of the homes and businesses, and told of the Strawbridge family from Philadelphia coming in their stagecoach, Tally Ho, to dine at the hotel. Her father brought many of his supplies from Robert Ralston and Son in Philadelphia and she has many of the original invoices in her scrapbook. In one of her pictures, she pointed to the hand pump that stood in front of the hotel with a wooden box on top that held cups, so passerby could pump themselves a drink of cool water.
Located at the main crossroads, Four Lanes End remained a bustling community at that time with roughly 1000 people. Then came prohibition when all that was served at the hotel were Clams, oysters, and sandwiches. After World War I the relocation of the Lincoln Highway through Penndel, and the great depression, many people moved away and Ruth Irwin states that not many people realize what a terrific effect this had on the once thriving community.
Another big change came with World War II when there was a housing shortage in the area. A Federal Government Agency approached the Ehrlen estate with a proposition to lease the building and convert it into five apartments for workers in local war plants.
Five families occupied the building from August 1943 to July 1950 while the hotel license was held in Harrisburg. After the war the building was returned to the owner and remained empty until Harry and Wanda Force purchased the hotel. They renovated the first floor and resumed business. During one of the many renovations to the building, Ruth Irwin was able to salvage one of the original fireplace mantels which she still has in her present home.
In August 1972, Benjamin and Lois Asta sold their home in Levittown and purchased the hotel. Again renovations were made to the hotel which became both a place of business and home for the Astas and their children, Tom, Ben Jr. and Lisa. In 1975 an addition was added to their living area, and in 1976 extensive renovations were made in the dining area. During this time a beautiful fireplace was discovered behind a sheet rock covered wall. From 1972 until today, the Langhorne Hotel remains a great place to eat and a meeting place for Langhorne residents. Tom and Ben have taken over the task of running The Langhorne Hotel in the center of Historic Langhorne. If you need to refresh your memory about this historic landmark, read the placemats while you are waiting for lunch or diner to be served.