The Red Rose Inn is an important piece of Penn Township’s history, which is now owned by the township in an effort to preserve the historical property.
Established in 1740, the Red Rose Inn is located on what was originally an old Indian trail used by the Lenni-Lenape tribe, and later the settlers to travel between Philadelphia and Baltimore, hence the current name of Baltimore Pike. Today the location is a busy intersection.
Part of William Penn’s land grant, the property was leased at a cost of one red rose per year, a tradition which is continued today and was the source of the name. The name would be fitting some 120 years later when the area became home to the local nursery industry which would become famous for its roses, that industry remains today in Conard Pyle/Star Roses.
While the inn functioned as primarily a restaurant until just two years ago, its current residents are a host of ghosts, which commonly appeared to the employees, and patrons of the inn regularly. Reports of moving objects also abound.
As the legend goes, the two ghosts who appear most frequently are that of Emily, a little girl in an old-fashioned dress, with curls and a doll, and Joe, a Native American or “Indian Joe” as he is called. The pair frequent different portions of the house, but are nevertheless linked for eternity. According to the tale, Emily was found murdered and the villagers accused Joe and promptly hung him reportedly from the tree on the corner. They later discovered the identity of the killer, who was found drunk in the woods. In an effort to conceal the murder of Indian Joe, they buried him in the basement; hence, his body and spirit continue to roam the basement bar area.
Emily appears in the main dining area, around the bathrooms and on the staircase, passers-by have reported seeing her looking out of the windows onto Baltimore Pike for years or ascending or descending the central staircase in the inn. Joe appears in the basement, in the former bar/poolroom area.
So, the next time you catch the red light at the corner of Route 796 and Baltimore Pike, take a step back in time, and look into the windows of the Red Rose Inn………..if you dare.
**Update on the Red Rose Renovation**
The long awaited rehabilitation of the Red Rose Inn has begun! Over the next coming months, we will remove some portions which are compromising the structure, and begin the process of restoring the Red Rose Inn by repointing brick, reroofing, creating a new rose garden, removing refuse and so on. We ask your patience during this process.
During this period, access to the Red Rose Inn is strictly limited to the contractors. No unauthorized personnel shall be on the site for any reason. The Pennsylvania State Police will be stepping up patrols to enforce this policy, particularly on nights and weekends. This policy is in place for the safety of the public. Thank you. Stay tuned for more updates!