Kennett Heritage Center

114 E. State Street, currently LaVerona and Portabella's Restaurants


A 2 1/2 story house was built on the left hand side of this site in 1768 by Joseph Musgrave.  In 1776, Musgrave sold the property to Colonel Joseph Shippen.  Col. Shippen was an uncle of Margaret Shippen, aka Peggy Shippen, wife of Benedict Arnold.  General Howe used the Shippen House as British Army headquarters before the Battle of Brandywine. In 1794, Shippen sold the house and moved to Lancaster.  
John Taylor (grandfather of Bayard Taylor) bought the building in 1804, and operated a store and the post office there.  He built another bay onto the original section around 1810.  During the War of 1812,  Brig. General Robert Bloomfield used the building as his headquarters.

Harlan Gause bought the property in 1828 and turned it into a hotel.  In the 1840's it was known as The Columbian Hotel.   Plow maker, Bernard Wiley, bought it in 1841, added the third bay in 1855 and named it The Plow Tavern.  
The hotel passed through several owners until 1868 when Isaac Pyle bought it.  He added the third floor in 1880 and the first floor iron porch.  Under the ownership of Samuel Babb, a fourth floor and the second floor iron porch were added.
In the 1930's, owners of State Street buildings with iron porches were ordered to remove them, due to safety concerns.  The hotel underwent much needed improvements in 1950-1951 but an electrical fire gutted it in August 1952.  For 2 years the hotel awaited its fate until demolition began in December 1953.  A department store, J.J. Newberry Company, opened in 1955 and served Kennett residents well for 40 years.
The building you see now is the old department store with a coat of paint hiding the Mid-Century classic yellow classic bricks.

Kennett Hotel, right and Fireman's Auditorium, left.

Mid-century State Street scene: The Kennett Hotel, center with 2 spires; Fireman's Auditorium, left with movie marque; and Swayne Block on right.  
A token for the Kennett Hotel Livery Stable.  Twenty five cents for feed and one night stay.
1952 Kennett Hotel Fire