PRESERVING THE BLACK HORSE INN

Black Horse as Wright Hotel circa 1919

Group pictured in front of Black Horse Inn for This Place Matters photo shoot– April 2013

Black Horse Inn - August 2016

History happening in Morristown
 

There are many historically significant buildings in Morristown, yet one stands above the others – the Black Horse Inn.
 

From its beginnings as an important stagecoach stop along the bustling National Road to its reputation as a fine country dining facility, the Black Horse has been a factor in the lives of villagers and travelers alike. Indeed, when one mentions Morristown to anyone who knows the place, the inevitable question is asked: “Is the Black Horse Inn still there?”
 

The Black Horse had humble beginnings as a small, frame structure built in 1807 by Duncan Morrison, an early settler, Justice of the Peace and innkeeper for whom Morristown is named. In 1836, William Swaney built the brick edifice onto the existing frame.
 

As the third stagecoach stop from Wheeling, Morristown prospered from the trade that came along that route and the village had 600 residents and numerous trades and professions. And the Black Horse was there, known during those years by names like the Horner House, Wright Hotel, Lippencott Hotel, and Union Hotel.
 

By the mid 20th century, the Black Horse Inn did not entertain overnight guests, but was known for good, home-cooked meals. After that, the Black Horse became an apartment building, nursing home and banquet facility.
 

By 2013, there had been no activity there for many years. It was for sale, but no one was buying. Indeed, restoring a building of this size is daunting for even passionate preservationists.
 

Passion, however, is exactly what made the sale happen and a restoration project of unprecedented proportions begin along Main Street in Morristown.
 

In April 2013, a group of people, led by the Morristown Historic Preservation Association, decided they could not see this Morristown landmark fall. Their passion for this iconic landmark brought them together to purchase the Black Horse Inn.
 

The owners understood the inn’s importance and agreed to sell it at a reduced price to MHPA. Fundraising among the group began in earnest. Soon, the Belmont County Tourism Council recognized the potential of a restored Black Horse Inn as a tourist destination and donated the purchase price to the Preservation Association.
 

And so began another chapter in the long, storied history of the Black Horse Inn.
 

By August 2016, exterior restoration was nearly complete, thanks to the generous and continued support of the Tourism Council. Other funders have included the Glenn Harper Endowment Fund and the Smith-Goshen-Rice Enrichment Fund.
 

This is an important preservation project, but it is much more. A restored Black Horse Inn holds the promise of revitalizing the entire community and contributing to the economic development of the area.
 

If you would like to make your mark in history by contributing to the preservation of the Black Horse Inn, contact MHPA President John Rataiczak at john.rataiczak@gmail.com  or Pamela McCort at pamlico1@gmail.com  You may also call 740-782-1688 or 740-782-1161.
 

THE TIMES LEADER

July 5, 2013

Black Horse Inn gets $30K for restoration

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – During Wednesday’s meeting, the Belmont County commissioners motioned to approve a request from the Belmont County Tourism Council to forward an additional $30,000 from the lodging tax receipts to tourism to be donated to the Morristown Historic Preservation Association to purchase and preserve the historic Black Horse Inn.
 

The commissioners heard from Doc Householder. director of the Belmont County Tourism Council, and Pamela McCort, vice president of the Morristown Historic Preservation Association, spoke about the benefit to tourism such renovations provide.
 

“We want to preserve these buildings if we can. Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” Householder said. “We think this is a good investment.
 

McCort added that the Black Horse Inn is already on the National Register of Historic Places and in the National Register of Historic Districts.
 

“A restored Black Horse Inn becomes part of the National Road experience here in Belmont County,” she said, pointing out other historic sites along the National Road. “It is heritage touring at its finest.”
 

She added that the inn already boasts notoriety in and outside the state. She added that while private individuals have done much to save the building, it must now be taken into a non-profit 501C3 or county or village government.
 

She also noted an architect’s report from 2012 which found the building structurally sound and worth saving. Morristown applied for transportation enhancement program funding last year, but did not receive funding due to the new transportation bill, which took acquisition of historic buildings out of it.
 

“We believe strongly in the Black Horse,” she said. “When people travel the National Road, they stop in Morristown every single summer.”
 

She recounted the local support and pledges which will still be available.
 

The first stage of the renovation would be the mothballing of the building. They will then actively seek other donors and funding sources to further the work of restoring.
 

“I believe strongly that it can be the capstone of our experience here,” she said. “This is a significant building.”
 

She added thanks to the Tourism Council for its help and support.
 

“This is truly one of the largest projects we’ve every done,” she said, adding that the project also has possibilities in economic development if the inn can be a site for banquets or cottage industry.
 

“I consider our historical buildings and our history in Belmont County to be one of our natural resources,” said Commissioner Ginny Favede, adding that the investment in such sites also brings related traffic to area businesses with the flow of tourists.
 

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com