The Fountain House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from copy of original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
From "Spirits" to Caffeine in only 250 years.
As we prepared this page we couldn't help but wonder what William Doyle might have responded if, in the mid-eighteenth century someone suggested that perhaps one day people would be 'on the premises' plunking down more money for a coffee-drink than the price of a typical ale.
Doylestown's crossroads is alive and well and busier than ever, testament to familiar cliche, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."
The Fountain House has been the center of Doylestown life for over 200 years. Of the early taverns (seven in number) it is the oldest and the only one now standing. William Doyle built the first section of the tavern in 1758 and successive owners and taverns occupied the House for 175 years until the 1960s.
It was owned by a Tory sympathizer during the Revolutionary War and seized by the state and sold at public auction. In 1802 the town's first post office was located here, and it served as one of the early way stations for the first stagecoach line between Philadelphia and Easton. Besides being an inn, there was a large second floor ballroom with musician's gallery that was used for dances and concerts. In the early years of this century, the old inn had a fine reputation for its food and antique furnishings, which Henry Ford attempted to purchase for his collection several times during the 1920s.
Fountain House has recently been purchased and restored by the Girard Trust Company of Philadelphia. The building now serves as the Doylestown branch of Girard Bank. The restoration and continued maintenance of this historic landmark by such a large, influential bank as Girard Trust signifies a growing interest in historic preservation by big business. Entry on the National Register should encourage such operations in the future. (Note: remember, this text was written circa 1972. Today - April 2004 - second floor is a law firm and the ground level is a Starbucks.)
The Fountain House, in Doylestown, is an enormous 3 1/2 story structure that was constructed in several sections. The first stone section was built around 1758, the third story added in 1830, and by 1849, two other sections had been added giving the building its present eight-bay front. An 1849 engraving depicts the house with a gabled roof, five dormers, half moon end windows, and three double chimneys. A two-story porch, with a second floor railed balcony, ran across the front and one side of the house. By 1876, a mansard roof replaced the gabled one. Two dormers were added to each end of the roof, and five more added to the rear of the structure's roof.
Victorian influence. There are peaked roofs above the dormers with lacy wood trim; the simple balcony railing was replaced with "Chinese Chippendale" railing; and the wooden porch posts replaced by ornate Victorian ones. The porch was also extended along a third side of the house. By 1930 more changes had occurred to the exterior. The Victorian features, the intricate iron work, railing, and the other wood work were removed and replaced by simpler railing and porch posts. The second floor balcony was screened in.
The appearance of Fountain House has changed very little in the past 100 years since the addition of the mansard roof. The house has always been stuccoed and whitewashed, and the 6 over 6 sash windows remain. The building was purchased and restored by Girard Trust Company for its Doylestown Branch office. The interior woodwork and mantels were preserved whenever possible. The photograph shows Fountain House in 1971 after restoration, and reveals that the later section of the porch built during the Victorian era has been removed, and shutters have been added to the third floor windows.