Abel Colley Tavern & Museum
This local museum is located in an historic tavern built around 1835 by Abel Colley. It served as a family home as well as a tavern for many years and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Today, it is the headquarters of the Fayette County Historical Society, which was founded in 1982, and holds a small museum and local history library. The 2.5-story, 5-bay red brick tavern was built in a Greek Revival Style was donated to the Fayette County Historical Society by Virginia and Warren Dick in 2009.
Backstory and Context
It's difficult to determine exactly when the tavern was built as Abel Colley was assessed as an innkeeper for tax purposes as early as 1837, but fixtures within the tavern indicate it was built at a later date. Regardless, their is little doubt it served as a tavern and inn for a period of time due to its large size, it also has two doors at the front with one opening into the barroom. The fact that the 2nd-floor has rooms that can be joined to form a dance floor also indicates its pervious use.
Colley must have closed the tavern/inn sometime around 1852 as he was no longer assessed as an innkeeper after that date, only as a farmer. He and his family continued to live in the building and it was later occupied by his son, W. Searight Colley until 1894.
After the building was donated to the historical society, they spent all of 2010 renovating the 6,500 square-foot building. It now serves as their headquarters with offices located on the 2nd floor. It has been furnished with period pieces and household items and the small museum focuses on historical themes, such as the coal industry, Albert Gallatin, and the National Road. Past exhibits have included Made in Fayette," which was dedicated to locally produced furniture and one devoted to the 200-year history of Fayette County glassware. The society and museum also host an annual Christmas themed exhibit, Visions of Christmas Past that looks at how Christmas was celebrated during five distinct periods: early American, pre-Civil War, Victorian, the Great Wars, and the modern era.
Donnelly, Lu. "Abel Colley Tavern and Museum." Up Front Magazine. Summer, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2016. https://journals.psu.edu/wph/article/download/59424/59151
National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Abel Colley Tavern. United States Department of the Interior/National Parks Service. Accessed December 5, 2016. http://www.dot7.state.pa.us/CRGIS_Attachments/SiteResource/H019279_01H.pdf
Pitz, Marylynne. "Abel Colley Tavern helps preserve Fayette County history. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 14, 2010. Accessed December 5, 2016. http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/art-architecture/2010/11/14/Abel-Colley-Tavern-helps-preserve-Fayette...