The last leg of our Summer vacation included a stop in Kutztown, Maxatawny Twp., PA. My wife’s LeVan family settled in the area after emigrating from Holland in the 1730s and 40s. Our plan was to eat lunch at a little restaurant called the Seasons Grill, located in the homestead built by her 6th great grandfather, Daniel Levan, and later operated as tavern and hotel.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a parking lot overgrown with weeds and this sign on the door:
The lousy economy had claimed another victim. I think it closed sometime after 2004.
Danel Levan built his stone house, in about 1740, in Maxatawny Twp., just about a mile from his brother, Jacob, who settled in the Eagle Point area. The house was built beside the highway that ran from the towns of Reading and Easton. In 1755, the road was improved, and in about 1765, because traffic had become so heavy, Daniel doubled the size of his building and set up business as proprietor of what is said to be the oldest hostelry in the eastern part of Berks County.
The Levan Tavern was situated beside the road where the first defenders of the colonies marched to Cambridge, MA. On September 18, 1777, the Continental Congress adjourned as Howe’s British Army was approaching. In John Adams’ diary, he mentions stopping over night at the Levan Tavern.
The following is from the book Genealogical record of the LeVan family: descendants of Daniel LeVan and Marie Beau (Huguenots), natives of Picardy, France, who settled in Amsterdam, Holland, 1650 to 1927 by Warren Patton Coon
“On the evening of November 12th, 1777, there was a group of half a dozen men at Levans’s, whose conversation one might wish had been more fully reported. One was the Hon. William Ellery, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and, as Representative from Rhode Island, at this time a Member of the Continental Congress sitting at York, Pa. From his Diary under that date we learn,–”From thence to Levan’s about 15 miles from Snell’s, where we lodged. Here we met Col. John Brown and four other New England men. Brown gave us an account of his expedition to Ticonderoga and of the Mode of Surrendry of the vaunting Burgoyne.”
It is quite certain that most of the noted characters of the American Revolution passed over this “Easton Road”, en route to and from York, Pa., where the Congress sat so long, and, with every probability, many of them “dined” or remained over night at the Levan Tavern.”
When Daniel died in 1777, he left the building to his son Daniel. In 1788, it came into the possession of the elder Daniel’s daughter Susana and her husband, Captain George Kemp. There are two special stones on the front face of the building. One says the name of George Kemp, and the other, Susana Kemp. Both have the date of 1795 with their names.
They operated the renamed Kemp’s Hotel for the next 52 years.
We were disappointed that the old Hotel is no longer open. The outside is in pretty rough shape. I hope that the building is saved. It is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It would be nice if there was a marker noting it’s significance.
The following are pictures of the building as it looks today. I was able to peer in the windows and get a couple of inside shots. It’s pretty sad to look at!
**UPDATE** An announcement was made on January 3, 2013, by Brandi Woodward, stating that she “recently signed an agreement of sale to purchase the Kemp Hotel property. I plan on restoring it to it’s former glory and would appreciate any and all help in accomplishing this project.”
More information about this can be read in the comments on this blog and on the Facebook page dedicated to saving the the building. A link to that page is here.