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Andrews Bridge Historic District


Home in the Andrews Bridge Historic District, Colerain Township, Lancaster County, PA, National Register

Photo: Home in the Andrews Bridge Historic District, Colerain Township, Lancaster County, PA. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Photographed by User:Smallbones (own work), 2013, [cc-by-1.0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed June, 2014.

The Andrews Bridge Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2014, The Gombach Group.

Andrews Bridge is the best surviving example of a 19th Century rural crossroads village in Colerain Township, Lancaster County, and within the Octorara Scenic River corridor. For over a century it was a center for commercial activity which included a fulling mill, tavern, distillery, blacksmith and wheelwright shop, country store, and post office. Not only do its architectural resources convey historical associations with commerce; they form as well a representative collection of early 19th century vernacular architecture.

Andrews Bridge developed along an old Indian trail which became the Newport Road (Route 896), a primary road during the Colonial period. First known as Guthrey's Ford for early landowner John Guthrey, the village acquired its present name in 1814 when Alexander Andrews petitioned the courts and succeeded for the erection of a stone arch bridge over the Octorara Creek. Within a few years the village of Andrews Bridge became a center of commercial activity and for over a century a variety of businesses operated in Andrews Bridge, providing services for travelers and the surrounding farm community.

Perhaps as early as 1738, when Colerain Township was organized, there was some colonial settlement at or near Andrews Bridge. Timothy Douglass was patented a large tract of land in 1737. In 1765, his son, John, inherited the tract and by 1769 had erected a stone dwelling referred to today as the Governor William C. Sproul birthplace. The house lies about a half-mile south of the district along Sproul Road and is believed to be the earliest house in the area. In the same year, John Douglass' new plantation was sold at Sheriff's sale to William Downing. Downing may have been responsible for building the log core of what later became the village's tavern house. Downing sold the dwelling and 100 acres to Alexander Andrews in 1802, who later converted the dwelling into a public house of entertainment.

By 1800, Alexander Andrews owned the majority of land at the crossroads where Route 896 joined Sproul and Creek Roads, then known as Guthrey's Ford. His wife, Abigail, was the daughter of John Guthrey and following Guthrey's death in 1787, Andrews had acquired his holdings. The area then became known as Andrews Ford. By 1805 Andrews had opened a tavern at the crossroads by the ford. The village's name changed again when Andrews petitioned the Commissioners of Lancaster County in 1813 to construct a bridge where the ford previously existed. In the following year a stone bridge was erected. Regarded from the time it was completed until 1927, as the "finest specimen" of a stone arch bridge in southeastern Pennsylvania, the structure contained several arches, spanned 450 feet across the Octorara Creek, and connected Chester and Lancaster Counties via the Newport Road. Local resident Patterson Bell Jr. is credited with designing and constructing the bridge. It was demolished and a new bridge erected in 1944.

The 1814 bridge encouraged travel along the Newport Road and the development of rural service centers. Alexander Andrew's tavern prospered and was known as the "Rising Sun" and later as the Andrews Bridge Inn. Besides the inn, by 1820 the village also included a distillery, fulling mill, miller's house, and innkeeper's house. It would eventually have a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, post office, and general store.

In 1836, Andrews sold the remains of his estate at Andrews Bridge, including the inn, to William C. Worth. Three years later, Joseph B. Baldwin purchased the 100-acre property and became the tavern's new proprietor. Apparently, the Andrews Bridge Inn proved a success for Baldwin, as he continued operating the business until 1865, and purchased adjoining tracts of land throughout the years. He is also credited with establishing a blacksmith and wheelwright shop on a lot of land he purchased off the old mill/storehouse tract. The blacksmith house still exists; the shop, however, was razed and replaced with a frame garage. Although originally taxed as innkeeper, later records list Baldwin as a farmer and renting the tavern out to two individuals, Reese and Pyle.

When Joseph B. Baldwin died in 1865, his executors sold his property (by then 166 acres) to Benjamin J. Linville. Abram Roop purchased the tract in 1867. The deed from Linville to Roop refers to the tavern as the Sign Post. Under Roop, it became known as Roops Hotel. Roop owned the tavern and core of the village through the first decade of the 20th century.

A fulling mill, in operation at Andrews Bridge from c.1800-50, was the location of several enterprises. William Murdaugh is listed in tax records of 1815 as proprietor of a brick woolen factory, as well as occupant of a stone dwelling and 13 acres. In 1833, Benjamin Kent purchased the mill and continued as the fuller until at least 1846. During the same period Kent's wife Betsy managed a general store on the first floor of the mill. The general store was also home of the Andrews Bridge Post Office, established in 1833. It was among the first instituted by the government in Lancaster County, delivering mail on a weekly schedule. In 1850, the name changed to the Octorara Post Office. Wilson Dobbin purchased the storehouse and 14 acres in 1860 and managed the general store and post office until his death in 1878. As with the village inn, the general store and post office remained in operation through the early 20th century.

Andrews Bridge was typical of crossroad villages of its period and this area of southeastern Pennsylvania in that it was small and featured the few services required by the largely self sufficient surrounding farms. It was however, among the earliest and longest to feature a tavern, established c.1800 and enduring into the early 20th century. In 1883, the only other licensed inn in the Township was at Kirkwood. As with Kirkwood and other crossroad villages in Coleraine Township, such as Union and Collins, there also was a store, post office, and blacksmith shop. Andrews Bridge developed around a water-powered mill, as did nearby Kirks Mill, Steelville, and Homeville and a host of other villages in southeastern Pennsylvania. That Andrews Bridge failed to develop further is partly explained by the fact that it was bypassed by railroad lines which contributed dramatically to the growth of other small towns and villages in the 1830-40s. Nor did its citizens seem to desire more. Institutions typically associated with developing towns, such as schools, churches, and lyceums, never located there. Andrews Bridge is one the few early 19th century crossroad villages to have retained a purely pragmatic commercial identity—as a stop for the traveler, a destination for processing agricultural products, and a place to pick up mail, have the horses shod or wagon repaired, and stock up on essential goods. That Andrews Bridge's principal commercial buildings and associated structures—store, mill, tavern, and dwellings of the innkeeper, miller, and blacksmith—and the historical setting have been so well preserved, qualify the village as more than representative of a commercial crossroads village: to the 20th century observer of history it is exemplary.

The cluster of buildings comprising the Andrews Bridge Historic District possesses an unusual harmony of size, scale, and materials which is very much enhanced by the integrity of the rural riparian setting. The tidy, traditional architecture of the buildings at Andrews Bridge clearly reflects the village's practical origins and development. Popular vernacular forms, like the Penn Plan and three-bay house, built of easily available materials by local carpenters proved well-suited for this village whose main business was business. Not only does the collection retain its sense of original purpose, it evokes that period in American history when the distinctions between commercial and domestic buildings were few, when houses doubled as inns, shops, post offices, and stores and vice versa. Also noteworthy is the integrity of this collection's individual components which have survived with minimal 20th century external alterations. Here, major vernacular forms of southeastern Pennsylvania have been preserved and are being maintained, to be appreciated and understood in their original context.

When Joseph B. Baldwin died in 1865, his executors sold his property (by then 166 acres) to Benjamin J. Linville. Abram Roop purchased the tract in 1867. The deed from Linville to Roop refers to the tavern as the Sign Post. Under Roop, it became known as Roops Hotel. Roop owned the tavern and core of the village through the first decade of the 20th century.

A fulling mill, in operation at Andrews Bridge from c.1800-50, was the location of several enterprises. William Murdaugh is listed in tax records of 1815 as proprietor of a brick woolen factory, as well as occupant of a stone dwelling and 13 acres. In 1833, Benjamin Kent purchased the mill and continued as the fuller until at least 1846. During the same period Kent's wife Betsy managed a general store on the first floor of the mill. The general store was also home of the Andrews Bridge Post Office, established in 1833. It was among the first instituted by the government in Lancaster County, delivering mail on a weekly schedule. In 1850, the name changed to the Octorara Post Office. Wilson Dobbin purchased the storehouse and 14 acres in 1860 and managed the general store and post office until his death in 1878. As with the village inn, the general store and post office remained in operation through the early 20th century.

Andrews Bridge was typical of crossroad villages of its period and this area of southeastern Pennsylvania in that it was small and featured the few services required by the largely self sufficient surrounding farms. It was however, among the earliest and longest to feature a tavern, established ca. 1800 and enduring into the early 20th century. In 1883, the only other licensed inn in the Township was at Kirkwood. As with Kirkwood and other crossroad villages in Colerain Township, such as Union and Collins, there also was a store, post office, and blacksmith shop. Andrews Bridge developed around a water-powered mill, as did nearby Kirks Mill, Steelville, and Homeville and a host of other villages in southeastern Pennsylvania. That Andrews Bridge failed to develop further is partly explained by the fact that it was bypassed by railroad lines which contributed dramatically to the growth of other small towns and villages in the 1830-1840s. Nor did its citizens seem to desire more. Institutions typically associated with developing towns, such as schools, churches, and lyceums, never located there. Andrews Bridge is one the few early 19th century crossroad villages to have retained a purely pragmatic commercial identity—as a stop for the traveler, a destination for processing agricultural products, and a place to pick up mail, have the horses shod or wagon repaired, and stock up on essential goods. That Andrews Bridge's principal commercial buildings and associated structures—store, mill, tavern, and dwellings of the innkeeper, miller, and blacksmith—and the historical setting have been so well preserved, qualify the village as more than representative of a commercial crossroads village: to the 20th century observer of history it is exemplary.

The cluster of buildings comprising the Andrews Bridge Historic District possesses an unusual harmony of size, scale, and materials which is very much enhanced by the integrity of the rural riparian setting. The tidy, traditional architecture of the buildings at Andrews Bridge clearly reflects the village's practical origins and development. Popular vernacular forms, like the Penn Plan and three-bay house, built of easily available materials by local carpenters proved well-suited for this village whose main business was business. Not only does the collection retain its sense of original purpose, it evokes that period in American history when the distinctions between commercial and domestic buildings were few, when houses doubled as inns, shops, post offices, and stores and vice versa. Also noteworthy is the integrity of this collection's individual components which have survived with minimal 20th century external alterations. Here, major vernacular forms of southeastern Pennsylvania have been preserved and are being maintained, to be appreciated and understood in their original context.

† Paula Butera-Kunkel, Historic Preservation Assistant, Brandywine Conservancy, Inc., Andrews Bridge Historic District, Lancaster County, PA, nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Andrews Bridge Historic District Map

Street Names
Creek Road • Georgetown Road • Newark Road • Route 896 • Sproul Road

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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