Greencastle's 240th anniversary celebrated with Allison's Tavern on Old Home Week badge

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

This year marks the 240th anniversary of the founding of Greencastle and its earliest structure is being highlighted on the badge for the 41st Triennial Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week celebration.

No one knows when it was built or what it looked like, but local artist Andy Barbuzanes created a rendition of Allison's Tavern as it may have appeared when the town was laid out by Col. John Allison in 1782.

A rendering of Allison's Tavern, the first structure in what is now the Borough of Greencastle, will be on the badge for the 41st Triennial Old Home Week planned Aug. 6 to 13, 2022.

Every three years, a different piece of local history is highlighted on the Old Home Week badge and the design was revealed at the Jan. 31 meeting of the heads of more than 40 committees planning the Aug. 6 to 13 celebration.

Brad Barkdoll, chairman of the badge committee, said Bonnie Shockey, president of both this year's Old Home Week and Allison-Antrim Museum, sparked the idea when she mentioned the anniversary.

"The badge committee ran with it," Barkdoll said.

A badge costs $6 and covers admission to virtually every Old Home Week event, ranging from the community worship service and the OHW pageant to the nightly dances and the fireworks display and patriotic concert.

The Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week badge will cost $6, covering admission to virtually all events during the Aug. 6 to 13, 2022, celebration.

The one exception is the Greencastle Loyal Daughters program, where a $5 membership fee will be charged. The money goes back to the community and Monarch’s Way, Tayamentasachta and the Greencastle Shade Tree Commission received $500 each in 2019. This year's program will be a tribute to teachers.

The founding of Greencastle and Allison's Tavern

"The earliest structure in what became the town of Greencastle was a tavern. It was on the southwestern corner of an intersection where the King's Highway, connecting the Susquehanna with the Potomac, crossed a primitive road that ran from western Pennsylvania to Baltimore, Maryland," Shockey said. "No one knows when the tavern was built, but it did exist on lands purchased by William Allison in 1763."

Six years later, William Allison conveyed 300 acres to his son, John. John Allison's plans to establish a new town in the wilderness of what was then the southern part of Cumberland County were delayed by troubles with England and eventually the Revolutionary War, in which he served.

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"It was not until after the victory at Yorktown, in October of 1781, that the place he would call Greencastle was founded," the late William P. Conrad, local historian, wrote in a description of a Mark Twain Noe painting of the tavern.

"Early in the spring of 1782, Allison, with his assistant James Crawford, began surveying and plotting the streets and building lots for his project," Conrad wrote. "In this vast woodland stretching the length of the Cumberland Valley there would be a town just five miles from Maryland's border lying equidistant between the mountain ranges that rimmed this historic part of Pennsylvania." 

Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week committee chairs learned at their Jan. 31 meeting that Allison's Tavern will be featured on the badge for the 41st triennial celebration planned Aug. 6 to 13, 2022.

"The tavern continued to serve its customers in this woodland setting while the town grew around it," Shockey said. "The hostelry's site was the first lot to be surveyed and it remained as one of Allison's holdings until his death in 1795."

The tavern was located on a tract bordering what is now West Baltimore Street on the southwest corner of Center Square.

OHW COVID-19 news

The majority of the committee reports on Jan. 31 were "we're good" and "we'll be ready."

The exception is the Fun Fair held at Jerome R. King Playground.

About 500 kids attended in 2019 and Kirsten Sutherin, committee chair, wanted to make sure other leaders are OK with changes planned in light of COVID-19.

There will be no bounce house this year, and there will be hand painting instead of face painting.

Frank Ervin, a past OHW president and member of the OHW Board of Directors, thanked Sutherin for thinking about ways to keep everyone safe.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at