• Photo of Lemon House, Level #6, and Engine House on a beautiful summer day.

    Allegheny Portage Railroad

    National Historic Site Pennsylvania

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  • Road Closure

    Please be aware that part of the public area loop has been closed until further notice as the park starts preparatory efforts for this summer's paving project on the Picnic Area Road.

Furnishing the Lemon House

View of the reconstructed bar area of the Lemon House tavern

The corner bar in the Lemon House tavern as restored.

NPS

Information on this page from The Lemon House Historic Furnishings Report by William L. Brown, III, US Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

Bar Room
This was not a place to eat, but a place where men could ignore the social graces and parlor mores of the period. The other rooms required men and women to act like gentlemen and ladies. In general, ladies of higher social standing did not go into barrooms.

The barroom is furnished both in reproduction furniture and period pieces. The period pieces are mainly glassware and related bar items. The most important source for refurbishing the barroom is the watercolor illustration Country Inn painted by August Koller in 1840. This watercolor seems to have been done in western Pennsylvania in 1840, although it was not identified so by the artist. The arrangement and acquision of items for the Lemon House barroom is based greatly on this painting

 
Photograph of the reconstructed parlor with period antiques on display

View of the Fancy Parlor

NPS

Fancy Parlor

It was often the case that taverns contained a separate and better furnished room for the use of ladies traveling with gentlemen, where they could take their meals away from the noise and confusion of the public dining room. These rooms were carpeted and usually wallpapered. The furnishings reflected the room's higher status.

The Owen McDonald Tavern in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania (about 9 miles from the Lemon House) has an inventory from September 21, 1842. Both that room and the comparable Lemon House room were large and the furniture described fits the space well. The Fancy Parlor is furnished with period pieces that match the McDonald inventory and gentry paintings. The wallpaper is a reproduction.


 
Photo of a table set as if travelers had just left. All items reproduction.

A corner tableau in the double dining room. Such displays change often.

NPS

Double Dining Room

This was the common dining space, used by passengers and crew of the portage railroad, wagon drivers, and other travelers, as well as the Lemon family and their employees. This area and the barroom were the main sources of revenue for the tavern. Most of the customers were from the railroad and thus came in for a quick meal while changing from locomotive to stationary steam power or vice versa. Unlike the customers of taverns on a highway, they normally did not spend the night. The use of two rooms, separated by large folding doors, was very common in public and private houses.

The double dining room today serves as an area for school groups to study the park, or even eat their boxed lunches. The park does not, and has no intention to, sell food at the Lemon House. All of the china and furniture is reproduction.

 

Exhibit Room

Perhaps it was the kitchen, or perhaps it was a storage area. We do not know the original use of the space that now houses our exhibit room. Exhibits display the results of archelogical studies, the paintings on which the furnishings were based, and tidbits about the timeperiod.

Did You Know?

Staple Bend Tunnel West facade

In 1843 cars of bacon and whiskey, left overnight in the tunnel, caught fire from a locomotive spark and the whiskey exploded. Staple Bend Tunnel was closed for a couple of days for repair.