Not far from Gettysburg, the Black Horse Tavern (also known as Bream’s Tavern) was originally designed in 1740 by immigrants from Ireland. William McClellan owned and ran a tavern in Ireland.
The tavern was strategically located near the Hagerstown Pike and was often frequented by travelers heading for the western frontiers of Maryland and Virginia. As the tavern grew in popularity, so did its customer base and so did McClellan’s family, so he expanded from the log house, building a large stone home for his family.
The tavern flourished through its sale to Francis Bream, who at the age of 57, was the wealthiest landowner in Adams County and also a tavern operator. He lived in the tavern with his wife and eight other family members.
In 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Bream’s Tavern was used as General Kershaw’s Brigade field hospital and staging area behind Confederate lines along Robert E. Lee’s line of retreat from July 2nd through August 20th.
More than 33 bodies were buried on the farm only to be exhumed in 1871 and 1872 and moved to southern cemeteries. The tavern suffered $7,000 in damage as a result of being used as a field hospital and it took several years before it was once again profitable.
The Bream family continued to live at Black Horse Tavern and Farm until 1934. It passed through four different owners until 1971 when it was purchased by Billy Leonard, who lived there until his passing in 2021.
Know Before You Go
The Black Horse Tavern was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 30, 1978. Please be aware that this is currently a private residence and parking is unavailable.