The Three Tuns/St. George’s
Before 1730, Richard Hughes built a building sufficiently large to advertise as the Three Tuns Tavern…a “tun” being a large cask or barrel…situated on the road that eventually led to Lancaster. He sold 45 acres to Francis Houlton in 1760 who renamed the inn Prince of Wales where he or a tenant served the passing parade of wagons, pack-animals, stage coaches and drovers pushing their herds toward Philadelphia. (This road-of-many-names is known today as Old Lancaster, Montgomery Avenue, Conestoga Road, and Lancaster Pike.)
The Syng Residence
In 1772, a master silversmith of renown… vestryman of Christ Church, treasurer of Philadelphia, trustee of the College of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania) and charter member of the Library Company…came out to the country to live and bought the tavern for his home.
He was Philip Syng, Jr., son of a silversmith, father of eighteen children, and especially remembered for his inkstand used at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He was also a watchmaker, a maker of electrostatic machines, inventor of the first lawnmower, and assistant to Benjamin Franklin in developing the lightning rod.
Philip Syng died in 1789, age 85. If the next date is correct, we surmise Mr. Syng did not die on his plantation in Lower Merion, for it was sold in 1783 to Captain Robert McAfee, famous for his capture of the renegade Capt. Fitz.
McAfee presumably again operated the house as a tavern. Landlords came and went until 1811 when James Anderson, M.D. purchased the property then serving the public under the sign of St. George, probably short for St. George and the Dragon, always a popular tavern title.
The Anderson Home
Dr. James Anderson had fifteen children, was strict, thrifty, litigious, and a classics scholar. The village around him he named Athens and was distressed when the populace added -ville to it. His son, Dr. Joseph Anderson never married, lived at St. George’s with a brother and sister. They passed the house on to nephew Dr. Joseph W. Anderson, also unmarried. The dynasty ended in 1957 with his death. The last Dr. Anderson is fondly remembered, and the family name is perpetuated by nearby Anderson Avenue that connects Montgomery and Lancaster Avenues. Some say it was originally a bypass for teamsters to avoid the toll booth below Athensville on the new Lancaster Pike.
With the death of this respected doctor, the house, surrounded by great old trees, home to Andersons for 146 years, was doomed despite pleas of neighbors to save it. Apartments and the YMCA now occupy the land at the corner of Mill Creek Road and Montgomery Avenue.