This week, Jana and I celebrated our 47th anniversary by having dinner and staying overnight at the Century Inn in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania.
The food was wonderful, our room was charming, and the atmosphere was special. We give it five stars.
The Century Inn first opened as Hill’s Tavern in 1794. It’s hosted people like Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and the Marquis de Lafayette.
But what impressed me most was the character of the owner and innkeeper Megin Harrington and her family.
You think the pandemic has been hard on the hospitality industry?
In 2015 Megin and her son Gordon barely escaped when an electrical fire destroyed the place. The only thing they were able to save was the Whiskey Rebellion Flag, the only one known to exist. Thank goodness there were no guests at the time. The fire burned for eight hours. Firefighters from 28 companies responded, and some of them were seen crying at the loss, which included priceless furniture, art, and antiques.
If you visit today, you might never know any of this. You’d just think you were in a 200-year-old inn. There are no before and after pictures; nothing describing the herculean two-and-a-half-year struggle to completely rebuild.
Of course, insurance didn’t cover it all. How could it?
And satisfying the requirements of keeping the restored inn on the National Register of Historic Places was a feat in itself.
Megin served us breakfast, and I wanted to know what kept her going in the face of such an overwhelming challenge. She was too modest to share the secret of her character. She wanted future generations to experience something timeless, something that mattered.
Not rebuilding was simply not an option.
The many people who rallied to help her felt the same way.
So many places struggled during the pandemic, and many closed, never to reopen. The Century Inn had to endure all that too.
And so, the place matters more today than ever.
Not just because you can get a great meal, enjoy a great stay, and not because of who visited there a long time ago.
But because of Megin and all those who live and serve there today.