Waterville Tavern

The Waterville Tavern was built in 1825 by Abraham Harris.  It was named Harris Hotel.  In 1945 the name was changed to the Waterville Hotel.  Through the years there were only 17 different owners.  Al & Deb Harakel purchased the property in 2008, gave it a much needed renovation and changed the name to the Waterville Tavern.

A Bit of History

Tracing the history of the tavern, it was built in 1825 by pioneer Abraham Harris, before Waterville was laid out by Capt. James M. Wolf. Then called the Harris Tavern, it offered rooms. In addition, a stable and barn for horses were constructed. The Wolf family supplied blacksmiths, with Michael Wolf obtaining a stagecoach contract in 1870, and supplying the horses. Harris operated his tavern until 1850.

John and Julia Sofield operated the tavern for him from 1850 until Harris’s death in 1863. Then Harris’s son, also named Abraham, became the owner and managed it until Thomas Bonnell bought it in 1869.Waterville History PA

After the railroad came to Waterville in 1883, and the great lumber era was approaching its height, the community became more important, and business must have boomed for Bonnell at the tavern. The third floor bunkhouse housed loggers during the 1880s and 1890s. Waterville was at a major crossroads, with the road to English Center and its tannery up Little Pine Creek from the village.

In 1890, Samuel Carson purchased the hotel from Bonnell. The business was renamed the Hotel Carson. When Carson died in 1904, his wife Jennie became the owner and ran it until 1920.

In that year, Silas Hostrander bought it, hiring George A. and Lottie Wolf Wheary Wood to live in the hotel and run it. During those years, carbide lights were installed by Vincent Grasso of English Center; he had experience installing them in Pennsylvania coal mines. Probably under Hostrander, the name was changed to the Waterville Hotel.

During Prohibition, from 1920 to 33, the hotel-tavern business ebbed greatly, with the Waterville Hotel being no exception. Hostrander sold the hotel to Lottie Love and her son Edward in 1923, who in turn sold it to Lewis Rogers in 1929.

After it was sold in 1933 to William and Jessie Smith, the business finally began to again prosper, becoming a great gathering place as in the past. As it now was pretty much after the “horse days,” the hotel’s barn was used for town meetings and square dances.

In 1945, the Waterville Hotel Corp. (with president Rose Wallendorf and secretary Inez Lindauer and her husband Jud) bought it. It passed to Robert and Isabel Crosthwaite in 1961, to James Zeigler in 1969, to Joel and Patricia Meyer in 1974, to Edwin Meissner and partners in 1975, and to Jan and Julia Bausinger in 1979.

Because of the Harakels, Abraham Harris’s 19th century historic tavern will live on into the 21st century, renovated to look as it did 100 years ago and, hopefully, to prosper through and beyond its 200th anniversary year in 2025.