History happening in Morristown
There are many historically significant buildings in Morristown, yet one stands above the others – the Black Horse Inn.
From its beginnings as an important stagecoach stop along the bustling National Road to its reputation as a fine country dining facility, the Black Horse has been a factor in the lives of villagers and travelers alike. Indeed, when one mentions Morristown to anyone who knows the place, the inevitable question is asked: “Is the Black Horse Inn still there?”
The Black Horse had humble beginnings as a small, frame structure built in 1807 by Duncan Morrison, an early settler, Justice of the Peace and innkeeper for whom Morristown is named. In 1836, William Swaney built the brick edifice onto the existing frame.
As the third stagecoach stop from Wheeling, Morristown prospered from the trade that came along that route and the village had 600 residents and numerous trades and professions. And the Black Horse was there, known during those years by names like the Horner House, Wright Hotel, Lippencott Hotel, and Union Hotel.
By the mid 20th century, the Black Horse Inn did not entertain overnight guests, but was known for good, home-cooked meals. After that, the Black Horse became an apartment building, nursing home and banquet facility.
By 2013, there had been no activity there for many years. It was for sale, but no one was buying. Indeed, restoring a building of this size is daunting for even passionate preservationists.
Passion, however, is exactly what made the sale happen and a restoration project of unprecedented proportions begin along Main Street in Morristown.
In April 2013, a group of people, led by the Morristown Historic Preservation Association, decided they could not see this Morristown landmark fall. Their passion for this iconic landmark brought them together to purchase the Black Horse Inn.
The owners understood the inn’s importance and agreed to sell it at a reduced price to MHPA. Fundraising among the group began in earnest. Soon, the Belmont County Tourism Council recognized the potential of a restored Black Horse Inn as a tourist destination and donated the purchase price to the Preservation Association.
And so began another chapter in the long, storied history of the Black Horse Inn.
By August 2016, exterior restoration was nearly complete, thanks to the generous and continued support of the Tourism Council. Other funders have included the Glenn Harper Endowment Fund and the Smith-Goshen-Rice Enrichment Fund.
This is an important preservation project, but it is much more. A restored Black Horse Inn holds the promise of revitalizing the entire community and contributing to the economic development of the area.
The Morristown Historic Preservation Association is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.
Video filmed and donated by Justin Borkoski.
Updates on the Black Horse restoration project and information on additional fundraising activities and grants will be posted on this page. Stop back again soon and catch up on history happening at the Black Horse Inn in Morristown!