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By PAT PFLEUGER
NUMBER 53 Main St. Silver Creek, is to most passers-by just another old plank house front by a For Sale sign, but to those familiar with its history, the low, weatherbeaten structure huddled close to the side walk it is “the old Blue Eagle tavern.” Actually though, the present building is only the front portion of the original tavern which went farther back on a deep lot.
Built in 1821, the Blue Eagle played an important part in the early history of Silver Creek, lodging numberless occupants under its roof at various periods down through the years.
First erected by one Lyman Howard as his home, he later extended it to serve as a tavern and it became a popular gathering spot for the local inhabitants of the settlement then called Fayette. It was also an important wayside stop on the Buffalo to Erie stagecoach route, since it was the only inn between Mack’s tavern at Cattaraugus Creek and Lay’s tavern near Dunkirk. It was here that the stages brought mail and weary wayfarers and horses were watered or changed for fresh ones.
LYMAN HOWARD built his home of sturdy materials, which, although now badly weatherbeaten, have survived the years, for many of the structure’s original features still remain. He used mostly timber from the plentiful black walnut trees growing on his land for the hand-hewn rafters and beams. When the house was enlarged for a tavern he added a ballroom with an arched ceiling. During the winter months he drove to Buffalo over frozen Lake Erie for bulk supplies of sugar, molasses, oysters and coffee. During the summer months these were brought by boat to the Silver Creek harbor, a regular port of call for lake shipping then.
Howard eventually sold, the tavern to Baruch Phillips, who, in turn, sold it to Morrell Brand. Brand was an experienced innkeeper and the tavern prospered under his ownership.
In 1858 the coming of the railroad finally meant the demise of the Blue Eagle as a coaching stop and its swinging sign was taken down but it continued to board the many engineers and track laborers engaged in the local con-struction of the railroad.
AFTER Brand’s later retirement to his farm the inn was bought and used as a residence successively by Ebenezer Buell, Seneca Jones and W. W. Keith until it was purchased in 1897 by Dr. Wesley Cole. Upon his death the house passed to his daughter. Mrs. Daphne Wilde, who for some years ran the house as a tourist home and later as an apartment house. With her recent passing, the house is now up for sale.
Although altered somewhat in the interior throughout the years, the old Blue Eagle has retained many of its original features; the floors, low ceilings, narrow stairs and some small-paned windows. One part of the old tavern was removed many years ago by Brand when he moved the dining room wing to his farm. For a long time, a watering trough, made from a hollowed-out log, stood in the front yard.
What destiny, one wonders, awaits now the unobtrusive old landmark on Main Street?