The History of Dilworthtown Inn
The first house in Dilworthtown was a log cabin built by James Dilworth. In 1754 Dilworth built a new home behind the cabin due to the fact his family had grown to include 11 children. This structure is what became the original section of the Dilworthtown Inn. In 1780, after James had died, his son Charles applied for a tavern license and thus was born an Inn known by many names. Over the course of the next 50 years the Inn was called the Sign of the Pennsylvania Farmer, The Black Horse Tavern, Sign of The Rising Sun, and Cross Keys. The present name, Dilworthtown Inn, came to use in 1821.
Considerable damage was done to the Inn after the Battle of the Brandywine during the occupation of the British army. Charles Dilworth, a well known Whig, submitted a damage claim stating the total loss as #820 15s 3d including "damage done to the dwelling house (tavern) by breaking doors, staircase and pulling down an oven" in addition to the loss of cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, salt, hay, grain, potatoes, rum, brandy, whiskey, bedding, furniture, china, pewter and clothing. Also listed in the claim was the loss of "time of a servant lad, Patrick Kelley, about 14 years, he went off with the British Army."
From the mid-1700's into the early twentieth century Dilworthtown was a thriving village located at an important crossroad. A blacksmith shop and a wheelwright shop operated in the village for over a hundred years. Other vital businesses included a general store that served the village and area farmers, a harness and saddlery shop, a cheese factory, a hatting business, shingle and stave cutting, and a barrel and powder keg manufacturer, who in 1849, produced 1,000 powder kegs for Mr. DuPont as well as 20,000 flour barrels.
The Village assumed its peaceful position away from the mainstream of travelers many years ago when Route 322 was relocated.
For the majority of the 1900's the Inn served as a boarding house and as a private residence, until 1969 when the Inn underwent an extensive restoration. In 1972 the Inn reopened. Once again diners could enjoy the elegant simplicity of dining in the rooms of the historic Inn.
Battle of Brandywine
On September 11, 1777 George Washington's American troops, approximately 15,000 soldiers, were located on the east bank of the Brandywine River. The British Army, approximately 18,000 soldiers, left Kennett Square that morning in two columns. One division, under General Knyphausen, marched to the west bank of the Brandywine at Chadds Ford. Their job was to keep the American troops occupied. The other division, under General Cornwallis, moved north under a dense fog, crossing the Brandywine before heading south in an attempt to outflank General Washington. Washington's intelligence reports informed him of the invading Brits and he sent General Sullivan,Stirling, and Stephens ahead to meet the British.
A murderous fight ensued for close to two hours, during this time, the 3,000 Americans on the hill at Birmingham Meeting disputed the fire of the enemy. For a majority of that time the fight was battled " almost muzzle to muzzle." A captain of the Delawares described it as, "Cannon balls flew thick and many and small arms roared like the rolling of a drum." The odds were against the Americans and after five attempts to surge forward, they were ordered to withdraw.
The retreating Americans were met by General Greene, who kept up destructive fire, as he let the Americans pass to retard the advance of the enemy. The pursuit by the British ended with the last volley of fire shot at Dilworthtown. The entire American army that night retreated toward Chester arriving there at different times by different roads. Casualty figures vary but the British killed were approximately 100 and 400 wounded while American losses were estimated at 300 killed and 600 wounded.
A large part of the British Army remained in the area of Dilworthtown until September 16. The destruction and wanton waste committed by the British on the peaceful dwellers of the neighborhood was excessive.
Information compiled from: History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, Futhey and Cope 1882; Index to Tavern Papers 1700-1800 and 1801-1880. Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA; A History of Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania by Arthur E. James 1971.
Since 1972, the Dilworthtown Inn has welcomed guests with the same accommodating hospitality and gracious dining as enjoyed by our first patron. Dilworthtown Inn carries a reputation for elegant handcrafted decor. The colonial ambiance is exemplified by the workmanship of American artistry and Continental craftsmanship. Each of the three floors and fifteen dining rooms have been authentically restored, one by one, to bring you intimate candlelight dining with an old world charm.
Our standards are the highest. Each day only the freshest seafood and the finest cuts of meat are selected. Each entree is then created by our chef with meticulous care and attention to meet our exacting specifications and your tastes.
With pride, we offer you our award winning wine list to enhance the menu selections. We cellar over 800 fine wines from around the world, on premises, for your convenience.
Dining at Dilworthtown Inn is an experience we truly desire to make enjoyable, memorable and tasteful.
We thank you for your patronage and look forward to seeing you again.