The History of Seven Stars Inn actually begins before it was known as such. It began as the homestead of Gerhard Brumbach who settled in Vincent Township soon after his marriage to Mary Rittenhouse Papen in 1718.
The land was then new and uncultivated; a small village of Lenni-Lenape Indians nestled below the homestead. Gerhard made friends with them and engaged them to work for him, giving provisions in return. They were fond of potatoes, turnips and especially milk. Gerhard earned the honored name of “Minquon” meaning “never violent of wrong in dealings.”
In about 1720, Samuel Nutt, an Iron Master, opened the first thoroughfare in this section of Chester County at his own expense. This great road, called Ridge or Nutt’s Road, extended by Gerhard Brumbach’s homestead. With the growing iron industry and the continued procession of new settlers on Ridge Road, Gerhard found he was frequently sheltering weary travelers. On May 25, 1736, he petitioned to His Majesty’s Justices for the privilege of conducting a Publick House:
“On the ground that he was frequently oppressed by travelers whom he was obliged to entertain, and that there were no publick houses within twenty miles below, nor thirty miles above his place on the Great Road which leads from Philadelphia to the Iron Works, and from thence to Conestoga.”
Gerhard prospered, improved his land and erected the first grist mill along French Creek. In 1741, he gave a plot of ground for the church “for a burial place for his family, his descendants, and his neighbors.” This church, Brownback’s German Reformed, still is in use today. It stands just below the Ridge Road and is known as Brownback’s United church of Christ. Gerhard died in 1757; his son Benjamin succeeded him in conducting the business of the inn.
Benjamin was proprietor during the American Revolution. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant, 2nd Battalion of the Chester County Militia. Because of his prominence as a military man, the Inn became a rendezvous for meetings. In 1776, Colonel John Beaton instructed the making of gun powder in the old log shop which stood in the vineyard. On August 30, 1776, Colonel Grubb charged Congress “for 55 breakfasts of Captain Adam’s Company at Benjamin Brownback’s.” It is documented history that after the Battle of Brandywine, General George Washington and his Army marched on the Ridge Road in an attempt to protect the military supplies at the Reading Furnace. Tradition is that the General departed the Inn at midnight on the 18th of September, 1777, to cross the Schuylkill River at Parker’s Ford.
Benjamin continued in business for nearly thirty years. Later he erected a larger house at the junction of the Lancaster and Ridge Roads, now called Heistands Corner. Benjamin died in 1786. His widow, Rachel Parker, was murdered at the age of 85; her assailant never being captured. The Inn, then known as the “Tavern,” was left to his son Henry who was proprietor until his death in 1804. During this time the Inn was a bustling center of activity. At about the peak of the Conestoga Wagon days, it became a gathering place for town meetings, elections and celebrations.
The first appearance of the name Seven Stars dates back to the end of 1808. Then owner Benjamin Custard petitioned the Court of Quarter Sessions to operate as a public house by “the sign of the Seven Stars in the Township of Vincent.” The petition noted that said house “has been kept as a publick house a great number of years”, and was subscribed to by several neighbors including Henry Christman, Peter Brownback and John Longstreth.
The name “Seven Stars” remains a mystery. Some say it was named for Seven Crossroads, or Seven Daughters. Others say it is for the seven stars in the Big Dipper or the Seven Years of America’s War for Independence. From antiquity people have been fond of using the number seven in naming their properties. “Seven Stars” was a popular name for inns and taverns in England and Colonial America. The name lent itself to simple, clear symbolic signs which were much in use for the benefit of those who did not speak English.
In 1848, the owner was John Yeager, and avid fox hunter. At that time the Inn was well known throughout Chester County as a hunter’s retreat. During Prohibition it was used as a farm home and headquarters for the sale of cattle. Other owners have been Joshua Rhoads, George Christman, Jacob Smith, Isaac Davis, Washington Smith, John Hipple, Russel Latshaw, Herbert Swanson, Kenneth Ott, and Benjamin and Margaret Pupek. The present owner is Frank Cacciutti.
Over the years, work has been done to restore the original building and add space in keeping with the Inn’s historic charm. The Inn is decorated with beautiful Tiffany chandeliers, overhead brass hurricane lanterns and antiques throughout. The bar features a unique lighted seven point star which is used for an overhead glass rack.
During construction of the Conestoga room in 1971, an old well was discovered. While excavating, the contractor found the old well one foot below ground level. The hand-dug well, believed to have been dug prior to the building of the Inn, contained over 18 feet of water. The roof and walls of the old well shaft have been restored. The contractor also uncovered and arched brick cellar or passageway measuring six feet wide by thirty feet long. It adjoined the well and had walls over two and one half feet thick. A portion of it is now being used as the wine cellar.
Whatever the origins of its name, Seven Stars Inn has become synonymous through the centuries for gracious hospitality and generous portions of the finest quality food. The “secret” to this level of quality has also remained unchanged – purchasing only the best ingredients and preparing them with fanatical attention to detail. From Gerhard Brumbach to Frank Cacciutti, the proprietors of the Seven Stars hope the Inn has brought you a full measure of comfort and enjoyment and they would like you to note that the Seven Stars still goes on, as in the beginning.