275th Anniversary Celebration – 2008
Join the Newtown Historic Association in celebrating the 275th Anniversary of the Half Moon Inn. The tavern’s history and Newtown will be highlighted with year long events and programs. Listen to a special lecture of the “Voices of Newtown,” an oral history of Early Newtown or relive the raid of the Bird in Hand. Experience a walking tour of historic Court Street or participate in the NHA’s many annual events. These events include Tavern Night, Market Day and the Open House Tour. This celebration will be capped off with a 275th Anniversary Gala Reception.
The Half Moon Inn (later known as the as the Court Inn) is one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Newtown. It was the original home of Margaret and Joseph Thornton, built in 1733 as a tavern, and was a popular gathering place when Newtown was the County Seat. The Half Moon Inn was built in 1733 by Joseph Thornton on part of five acres of ground originally purchased by four trustees, appointed by the General Assembly “to build a new Court House and Prison in the County of Bucks”. The trustees purchased the ground from John Walley on July 17, 1725 for twelve pounds, five shillings. Joseph Thornton conducted a tavern here until his death in 1754, when his wife, Margaret Thornton, then took over the business until 1790.
Innkeepers Margaret and Joseph Thornton operated the Half Moon Inn on this site offering meals and lodging to the people coming to the county courthouse. The tavern was located in the two north rooms of the building. In the 1890s, the local telephone company purchased the building and subdivided it into two separate units. The north side contained two rooms which were used over the years for a variety of uses, including a radio repair shop. The south side contained a private residence. The Newtown Historic Association was the recipient of the north portion of the property in 1964 as a gift from Robert L. LaRue and his wife, Ruth. The LaRues also gave $25,000 to restore the structure. The NHA then purchased the south residence in 1974 and fully restored it in 1982. After the restoration, the two doors connecting the two properties were re-opened to make it back into one building. The Half Moon Inn has served as the headquarters of the Newtown Historic Association ever since and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
At the present time, the south portion of the Half Moon Inn serves as a reception area and includes several rooms that have been restored to their original décor. The north side contains the tavern room and the room behind it where the original Thornton family lived. The second floor houses the Research Center & Barnsley Room of Newtown History, as well as the Edward Hicks room, along with a restored tavern bedroom.