The Court Inn (known as the Half-moon Inn during the mid 18th century) 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 Court Inn, originally called 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 (Court 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 (Court 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 Edward Hicks room along with a restored tavern bedroom. The recently vacated Research Center area is undergoing renovation and will become a textile display and work area for the NHA’s many 18th century-inspired costumes.
The Newtown Historic Association’s Half-moon Inn (Court Inn) and Research Center are located in historic Newtown PA and approximately 35 minutes north of Philadelphia. Driving Directions (Google Maps).
Please contact the Newtown Historic Association for group visits. Call 215.968.4004 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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