Located in York, Pennsylvania, the Colonial Complex is a collection of four historic buildings that served various purposes during the colonial, pre and post-Revolutionary periods. The Gates House and attached Golden Plough Tavern have always been at this site, while the original Barnett Bobb House was transported there in 1968. Lastly, the Colonial Courthouse is a 1976 reproduction of the original that was once locate at York’s center square. The complex is operated by the York County History Center and is open for guided tours throughout the year. The Gates House and Golden Plough Tavern were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and the Barnett Bobb House was added in 1975.
home that would become the Golden Plough Tavern was constructed in 1741 by
Martin Eichelberger. That single floor
has a unique timber framing and log construction in which the walls are framed
with the space between the posts infilled with hewn beams and the gaps are
chinked with stones and mud. The second-floor
walls are half-timbered with brick nog (fill) between the timbers and wattle
(wooden strips) and daubed with a viscous material, usually a combination of
soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw.
This 6,000-year old technique is rare in America as is the building’s
liegender stuhl (lying chair) trusses that comprise the roof. The tavern was essential to the community of
York as it served as an inn, restaurant, meeting place and source of news from
far away places like Philadelphia.
2.5-story Gates House was built c.1751 by Joseph Chambers who later became the
second owner of the Golden Plough. The
brick and limestone home was constructed in the Georgian architectural style
and was home to Revolutionary War officer General Horatio Gates from September
of 1777 to June of 1778 while the fledgling U.S. government was located in York. The government relocated from Philadelphia to
York after the defeat of the Continental Army at Brandywine. While there, Gates served as the President of
the Board of War to the Second Continental Congress, a position similar to
today’s Secretary of Defense. There is
some evidence that the Marquis De Lafayette visited either the Congress, Gates
or both while they were in York. Today
the house is used as a period museum to show how a well-to-do family lived
during the late 18th century.
On the other
hand, the Barrett Bobb House reveals how a family of more modest means
lived. The unique two-story log cabin
with dovetailed corners was built in 1811-1812. Bobb utilized squared-off logs with stone and
mortar chinking between. It was originally
located at the corner of Pershing and College Avenues and moved to occupy land
closer to the Gates House and Golden Plough in 1968. The first floor contains four rooms and a
small hallway while the second floor has an open floor plan. It is believed, for a time, that the house
was occupied by two families. It is now
furnished and decorated in a style typical of an 1830s German-American home.
reproduced Colonial Courthouse, built in 1976 to help celebrate the country’s
Bicentennial, is a replica of the original which was built in 1756 and razed in
1841. While the Second Continental Congress
was located at York it met in the Colonial Courthouse and passed the Articles
of Confederation, the country’s first guiding document, as well as a treaty of alliance
with France. All four buildings are on
the Colonial Complex’s guided tour.