On June 25, 1785 Conrad Stouch purchased the property known as Lot 29 located in Womelsdorf Pennsylvania for $2500.00 which he paid in gold and silver. The property contained several outbuildings including a barn, some sheds, and a carriage house. The building on the Tavern’s east side which was also owned by Conrad Stouch, extended across the alley and was connected to the public house forming an arch. Conrad reserved the right of way and used the 10 foot wide cart way for access to the courtyard at the rear of the tavern to operate his stage coach line. Mr. Stouch was partner to Calder of Harrisburg and together owned the stage coach line between Harrisburg and points east to Philadelphia. The tavern also served as the local post office since the coach line carried mail from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.
The C. Stouch Tavern was the official stage line stop in Womelsdorf which resulted in accommodating some of the most eminent dignitaries of the time. Perhaps the most notorious was George Washington who stopped and spent the night at the tavern while checking progress of the Union Canal project in the Berks County area. At the recommendation of his acquaintance Captain Samuel DeWees, Washington enjoyed the lush accommodations of the Stouch after being saluted by the towns’ people and addressing the public from the front porch of the tavern.
The Tavern was a public house and was used for several different purposes over the years. In 1797 is was designated by the county as the place to hold public elections and voters of Womelsdorf continued to do so until 1909, 112 years after the first election was held there. In 1833 The Stouch Tavern become the local court house for those who broke the law as Mr. Lewis W. Richards who was the current inn-keeper and postmaster, was elected Burgess.
Today the Stouch Tavern stands all but identical to when it was erected some 200 years ago. Having succumbed to two separate fires over the course of 200+ years it was painstakingly restored to its original glory and continues to serves the community in the capacity of a tavern. The Stouch Tavern is one of the oldest continuous operating taverns in the state, always known as elegant, even in the 18th and 19th centuries.
There have been countless claims of paranormal activity both inside as well as outside the tavern over the years. These claims range from faucets that turn on and off on their own, latched doors opening on their own, unexplained footsteps, napkins and silverware being move, people being pushed or having their bed covers ripped off the bed while they were sleeping. People have reported seeing a small unidentified girl wearing a 18th century dress playing in the archway as well as a black carriage being pulled by two white horses that passes through the arch into the courtyard that vanishes without a trace.
Given the two plus century age of the building located in an area so rich with history it is no wonder there have been so many claims of spirit activity at the tavern. While the current proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Crumrine, refer to the friendly spirit that occupies the Stouch Tavern as “George” it would seen there may be more than one spirit present at the tavern based on the evidence captured as well as the many reported claims over the years. Could it be that the original owner, Mr. Conrad Stouch, is keeping watch over his beloved inn, or perhaps a chamber maid from days past? Possibly it is the spirit of a small girl who lost her life when she was run down in the archway by a stage coach that was rushing to make up lost time, or the spirit of a patron who choked to death in his chair in the corner of the first floor dining room know as the pink room.
Whomever it may be that is haunting the Stouch Tavern, they do not seem malevolent nor dark in any way and add to the charm of a historic tavern that has welcomed and served so many during the last 200+ years it has stood.