Built in 1830 by William Bell, Bell's Tavern served as a stagecoach stop that brought visitors to Mammoth Cave when first open. The inn and tavern was famous in the United States and Europe for elite patrons, cuisine and a special drink of peach and honey brandy for “Joy before the journey’s end. The tavern burned in 1860 and reconstruction by Bell’s grandson, William F. Bell and stepfather, George M. Proctor, was halted due to the Civil War.
Recently, Dr. John Adams with the World Society of Chemists, began assessing the structure to determine how many stories and rooms the building had and what it may have looked like in the early 1800’s.
Adams concluded that what appears to be the first floor may actually be the second level which is at street level. “This road was lower than this by at least five feet and probably more and it was cobblestone, he said pointing toward Highway 255. “If you look down the road about two blocks, you can still see a cobblestone road.”
Adams has been able to tell that rooms in the tavern were very large and were probably used as common spaces such as dining and gathering areas.
“This was really a big, big place, consisting of 14,000-15,000 square feet. The first level is just filled with rooms.” The building also had a veranda at one time because the ruins lead him to believe that eight doors once opened up to the street-side of the building.
Assessment, preservation and stabilization of the tavern ruins is underway.