The Bird-In-Hand

About The Bird-In-Hand

111 S. State Street, Newtown, PA

Fact Sheet

  • Shadrack Walley, one of the first settlers in Newtown, largest single landowner and sometimes called the Father of Newtown, built a wood frame house at 111 S. State Street. It was erected around 1686, with a post and beam structure and walls done in waddle and daub – woven young saplings covered with mud and straw.  This structure has stood at this corner for over 330 years and is believed to be the oldest frame building in Pennsylvania.
  • This site is the last remaining intact lot of the original “six squares” of property that comprised the layout of Newtown.
  • This building housed the first tavern in Newtown, and was renamed the Red Lion Inn by George Welch between 1726 and 1728 and operated as a tavern until 1858.
  • The Tavern was the site of the only Revolutionary War action to take place in Newtown, PA. And this skirmish resulted in more losses than the battle of Trenton, killing 5, wounding 4, and 32 captured.
  • Newtown’s first Post Office was housed here and opened on July 1, 1800 and the Library Company in 1818.
  • The Tavern was known as the Old Frame House until 1817 when Edward Hicks, Newtown’s famed artist, painted a sign representing Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Since then, and for 200 years, the building has been known as the Bird-in-Hand.
  • The Newtown Reliance Company for the Detection and Apprehension of Horse Thieves and Other Villains was founded here in 1819. They were the local group to maintain security in the days when local government did not provide these services. The organization still exists today as a purely social institution.
  • Edward R. Barnsley rescued the famous tavern from extinction in 1937 when a Philadelphia oil company wanted to demolish it to build a gas station. Barnsley painstakingly restored it to its original condition in 1939. For almost 80 years, this restored property has been the centerpiece of Newtown.
  • During World War II, the building was the headquarters for the Local selective Service Board, Ration Board and various other civilian defense agencies.

Sources:
Rounsavill, Brian. Newtown Past and Present, Newtown Historic Association, Inc. 2006. Pg.36-37
Barnsley, Edward R., Historic Newtown, A booklet prepared for the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 1934
Archives of the Newtown Historic Association, Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Upcoming Events

Holiday Open House Tour

December 7 @ 10:00 am

On Saturday, December 7th, celebrate the beauty of the season with the Newtown Historic Association’s 57th holiday house tour.

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The Edward Hicks Room

The Newtown Historic Association invites you back in time to experience the life of Newtown's most famous artist, Edward Hicks. The Edward Hicks Room displays many of the treasurers owned by Hicks during his lifetime. These items include a double-faced swinging sign portraying William Penn's Treaty with the Indians and Penn's Landing at Chester in 1844...learn more

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