Historic Commission

Unionville, Pennsylvania - History (continued)

Retail Establishments 

                The first general store in Unionville was in a building no longer standing, on the northwest corner of the crossroads. It was owned by Robert Buffington, then by Charles Buffington, who advertised in 1839 “goods of all kinds free from the evil of slavery.” The store burned down and the existing building was built on its foundations. It has been used as a butcher shop, gas station, storage room for the later general store across the street, and is now a real estate office. 

                John Jackson’s old log cabin, dating from the 1700s, is incorporated in the store on the northeast corner, which was built in 1851. It has been in use as a general store or grocery store–and vital community center–almost continuously ever since. For the past seven years, however, it has been a restaurant, now called Catherine’s.

                Over the years there have been other shops in the village: Webb Crosson’s, in the old Cross Keys; Coxes’ at the west end of town; Homer Wheatman’s, across from the Hall; and Eastburns’ in the lower level of the hall.

Another retail establishment–and a local institution–was the Unionville Sale Barn, just south of the old bank. The building, an old drovers’ barn, has been converted into apartments. Going to the sale was a big event every Wednesday and Saturday night for about ten years, beginning in the early 1940s. Folks came from all over the area to buy at the auction and to socialize.  

Public Accommodations 

                The Cross Keys Tavern was built in 1751 by John Jackson, one of the first families to settle here. It served as a family home for Jackson and then for his son George until 1805, when George sold it to his son Garnet. Both George and Garnet tried in vain to obtain a hotel license. In 1808, after three unsuccessful attempts, Garnet sold the property to Samuel Entriken, who immediately applied for and received a hotel license. There is no explanation for this, but one can imagine that politics may have played a part. The Cross Keys served the community and travelers until 1834, when it was closed because owner Isaac Smith opened the Union Hotel across the street. Since that time it has been used as a residence and for several enterprises, including an ice cream parlor, gas station, and most recently an antique shop. 

                The Union Hotel had a large barn and a stockyard and became a lively meeting place and a center for news and entertainment. In the mid-1800s, as the temperance movement–no alcohol–gained momentum, the Union Hotel managed to serve liquor for all but one year. Meanwhile, down the hill a Temperance Inn opened on the south side of the intersection with Rt. 842 West, but only for a short while.

                An 1876 advertisement for the Union Hotel promises that “B. F. Martin, the host of the Unionville Hotel, is as large as life and twice as natural, and if any wayfaring man wants a good square meal, they will be accommodated, and will be served in a No. 1 style. A word to the wise is sufficient.”

                A few years later, as the railway system replaced the stagecoach, the inns not along the line became obsolete. The Union Hotel closed its doors in 1879. After that it was a residence and then housed the People’s Bank of Unionville from 1919 to 1942. It is now divided into apartments.

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