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Heralding Our History: Four Lanes End is where Langhorne began


At the crossroads of Maple and Bellevue avenues in Langhorne, two buildings anchor the history of the town.

This intersection was originally known as the town of Four Lanes End, the crossing of two Native American paths. Later, the first path became the great road leading from Philadelphia to New York, and the second path became Durham Road, from Bristol to Durham.

The original settlers in the area were the Lenni-Lenape, a part of the Algonquin Nation, followed in the 1650s by settlers arriving from Holland and England. Upon the arrival of William Penn, the first group of English Quakers settled in the area and established the Neshamina Monthly Meeting in 1683, which later became the Middletown Monthly Meeting of Friends.

Four Lanes End had two name changes over time, first Attleborough (1805) and finally Langhorne (1876).

Originally built by Henry Huddleston as a log and stone house in 1704, the Langhorne Hotel-Tavern stands on the northwest corner. It has been a “house of entertainment” licensed since 1724, making it the second-oldest tavern in Bucks County.

It served as a stop on the stage coach route from Philadelphia to Trenton and New York. In the hotel yard, there was a large livery stable with stalls for 20 horses, as well as a two-story carriage house that was used to store wagons, carriages and sleighs.

By 1760, regularly scheduled stagecoaches began running between Philadelphia and Trenton with stops in Four Lanes End, and by the early 19th century, daily stagecoaches carried passengers from Bristol through to Easton. As a transfer point, Attleborough played a key role in stagecoach travel in southern Bucks County.

Passengers could stay overnight at the inn, or transfer from stages traveling north and south to coaches traveling east and west.

Attleborough did not relinquish its leading role in regional overland transportation until the 1870s, when railroads superseded stagecoaches as the principal mode of transportation through southern Bucks County.

The Bound Brook Railroad Company located its tracks one mile south of town in 1876. The president of the railroad chose Langhorne for the station’s name because the station was to be located on Thomas Langhorne’s 800-acre land grant of 1684. “Langhorne” was honoring Thomas’s son, Jeremiah Langhorne, who was the first chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The Attleborough Council decided to change the town’s name to Langhorne in 1876.

In the 1900s, the Langhorne Hotel-Tavern became a typical country inn, a favorite place for many wealthy Philadelphia families. During World War II, when there was a housing shortage in the area, a federal government agency leased the building and converted it into five apartments for workers in local war plants. Five families occupied the building from August 1943 to July 1950.

After the war, the building resumed being a restaurant. Today it remains a popular meeting place.

In the 1730s, Joseph Richardson (1695-1772) opened a general store next to the tavern. It was the earliest store in southern Bucks County. It remained the only store in the area until the 1770s. In 1738, Richardson built a limestone house on the southwest corner. He relocated the general store in the southeast corner of his new residence.

His stock included wool blankets, fabric, needles, rope, salt, sugar, rum, deerskins, and nails. Old store ledgers revealed signatures of indigenous people, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and many local settlers.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Richardson’s store, the tavern and travel along the two roads drew more settlers and small businesses to Four Lanes End. Four Lanes End became the center of trade.

Businesses in the area included apothecaries, physicians, confectioners, coach makers, wheelwrights or wagon makers, smiths, carpenters, joiners, turners, weavers, coopers, painters and the brickyard.

Four Lanes End had become Attleborough when, about 1750, a man named Attlee kept the store for the Richardson family and people talked of “going to Attlee’s,” so that gradually, Four Lanes End was referred to as Attleborough. The establishment of the first Post Office in 1805 officially confirmed the name of Attleborough for the next 70 years.

Richardson’s house remained in the family until 1919, when a group of citizens from Langhorne, Hulmeville, South Langhorne (Penndel), Langhorne Manor, and Middletown Township formed the Langhorne Community Memorial Association, dedicated to honoring all those who served in World War I, and purchased the house.

A plaque on the side of the house lists the names of those residents who served their country in the military, three of whom were killed, and others who served as doctors, nurses and pastors.

Today the Joseph Richardson House serves as home for the Peace Center and the Four Lanes End Garden Club and a meeting place for local community organizations.

Visit for tours and events or stop by 160 W. Maple Ave. on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and noon or Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., to purchase a self-guided walking tour book.

Carol Ann Aicher is a member of the Historic Langhorne Association.

“Heralding Our History” is a weekly feature. Each month, the Herald delves into the history of one of its towns.

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