Ruins of Bell's Tavern - Park City, KY
N 37° 05.510 W 086° 02.996
16S E 584432 N 4105481
Quick Description: Historic tavern/stagecoach stop, destroyed in fire, stnds in ruind and serves as park space.
Location: Kentucky, United States
Date Posted: 9/3/2009 7:25:42 PM
Waymark Code: WM75AE
"GLASGOW JUNCTION, 101.8 m. (623 alt., 374 pop.), another
town whose chief concern is the tourist and his interest in caves, was first called Three Forks, then Bell's Tavern. The second name came from an inn built in the 1820's and operated by Col. William Bell of Virginia.
Within sight of the highway, near the railroad station, stand the
RUINS OF BELL'S TAVERN (L). The first structure, a rambling wooden
affair, built in the 1820's and added to from time to time as patronage grew, was noted for the hospitality dispensed by its owner, Col. William Bell, a Revolutionary officer from Virginia. The service was lavish and the fare testified to the epicurean taste of the owner. Colonel Bell himself prepared his favorite appetizer, peach brandy and honey, a beverage of exhilarating potency, and he was generous in dispensing it. Coffee was served from a silver coffeepot that was carried from table to table by Shad, the "blackest little Negro with the whitest teeth anyone had ever seen." Shad is buried under an apple tree in the old orchard.
Bell's Tavern was a favorite meeting place for the leading politicians of the day. Henry Clay, the Marshalls, the Humphreys, Judge Rowan, and Aaron Harding were among the frequent guests. Nathaniel Silsbee, Senator from Massachusetts (1826-35), wrote to a friend who contemplated the journey to Nashville:
"Stop for a day or two at the famous Bell's Tavern. Should you
arrive late at night and find the yard filled in with rough carts and
wagons, with perhaps uncouth men or maybe Indians stretched upon porch and hall floors, keep up good heart; there will be a comfortable bed for you, and at breakfast such a breakfast as you have seldom sat to you will have for company men, learned men, not unlikely a prince or a potentate, a world famous actor or a prima donna; it may be all of these. But mark you, should none of these fall to your share you will find in your host a cultivated, charming gentleman who can keep up his end of the conversation with even you. There is no other hostelry of its like upon the length of the continent."
After the death of Colonel Bell, his son's widow, Mrs. Robert
Slaughter Bell, maintained the tavern's reputation until it was de-
stroyed by fire about 1858. Mrs. Bell planned to build a magnificent
stone structure, whose proportions and appointments would be worthy
of the tavern's reputation, and she began construction though friends
warned her of the gathering war clouds. The building, which was never
completed, was to be 105 feet in length and about 60 feet wide. The
massive walls of dressed stone had reached a height of 15 feet or so
before the work was stopped. The vine-covered walls, arched windows,
and moss-grown steps attest the magnificence of Mrs. Bell's plans."
--Kentucky: A Guide to the Bluegrass State., 1939
The ruins are a bit more ethered from time, but still stnd as a testimant to the past. The text of the nearby Kentucky Historic Marker is below:
Erecten by Wm. Bell, 1830. Stage stop for his lines that brought visitors to Mammoth Cave when first promoted. Famed in U.S. and Europe for elite patrons, cuisine and magic peach and honey brandy for "Joy before the journey's end", until it burned 1860. Civil War doomed completion of new tavern begun by grandson, Wm. F. Bell and his stepfather, George M. Proctor.