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One of Winter’s Welcoming Fireplaces, Lumberville General Store, PA
How can one be homesick for a place that is not home? Or actively miss a place, when one is there every few weeks? This has been my fate since I ‘met’ the renovated Lumberville General Store, on ‘The River Road’ above New Hope. This emporium of excellence has been eincarnated by brilliant Laura Thompson, aesthetic genius behind the Black Bass Inn across the road.
Bass Inn, Venerable ‘Parent’ Establishment Across Route 32
A Florida friend and I had set out for Bucks County with Christmas presents for one another in hand, planning for breakfast at a traditional Lamberville morning restaurant. Now that she lives in the South, time together needs to be timeless and quiet. Our destination, that morning, turned out to be rambunctious and raucous, with a line out the door into December’s gelid air. “We’re not doing this,” I announced. “I’ve read about new chefs at the Lumberville General Store. Let’s give it a try.”
Ice Floes Race Down the Delaware River, Out Lumberville General Store Windows
Welcoming Lantern on the Mantel
Window Decor, Lumberville General Store Haven
Fireplace Tile, Lumberville General Store
Even the Fire-Tending Gloves are Decorative!
Scotch Woodcock (home-smoked salmon), gossamer eggs, cloud-like roll, home-fashioned-and-smoked sausage with ginger and sage — and the most ethereal (so-called) hash-browned potatoes of our lives — [Chef Anton’s secret being pre-preparation inspired by The French Laundry] — an hour and a half sous-vide… and, o, yes, “We finish them in butter. Everything’s better in butter.”
One chooses a room, a table, a fireplace. One picks up a handy compact clipboarded menu in the main room of the General Store. One agonizes between their own bacon, quiche with crust that levitates, scrambled eggs in the form of the omelets of France, triple-berry or cheese scones, hearty breakfast biscuit, and the like. I cannot count the number of friends I have taken there or met there. All are astounded — even at lunch. This attention to detail, to sources (“We’re between Manhattan and Philly — purveyors are glad to serve us.”) I seem to remember Anton’s delight in the storied Viking fisheries of LBI for salmon and other fish; and local eggs whose provenance resembles that of works of art. Their legendary soups are also available frozen to take home, as are those remarkable quiches. Tall sturdy glass bottles with metal and porcelain stoppers hold (free) refrigerated water for your table, by whatever fireside, or outside, setting you may choose.
While Amy and Charlie and Anton banter with you behind the counter, you can create mixed coffee concoctions to meet your morning needs. Everyone’s pride in his and her work is palpable. Their delight in one’s presence is as though you’re guests and they’re cherished hosts in the warmest of homes.
We’ve done any number of Christmas and birthday rituals, wrapped in timelessness that is not the norm in this dire century. There have been celebration of having recovered visits and even sympathy returns. Hale or not, merry or sad, by the fire, or with backyard breezes wafting in as guests feast at the sturdy outdoor tables — in this historic setting, one feels blessed. As well as gastronomically enchanted.
And afterwards, in most weather (once, even in black ice — a short jaunt), one can walk the foot(e)bridge across my beloved Delaware and its Pennsylvania canal, to Bull’s Island in New Jersey. There’s even a successful eagle nest visible when trees are less leafed out, one mile below the New Jersey entry to Bull’s Island. This hefty structure crowns a massive sycamore, almost on the river. And another eagle nest may be found on the power tower near the Lambertville toll bridge — whose three young fledged on the Fourth of July weekend! For a long time, the Homestead Farm Market on the Lambertville hill had its scope trained on the nest where these hefty young were “branching” — testing their wings.
Canal and Towpath, Pennsylvania Side
Canal and River Alongside/Below Black Bass Inn
Winter Canal, “Down By the Riverside…”
NJWILDBEAUTY readers well recognize that this haven, which extends far beyond a mere restaurant, constellates most of my passions: beauty, history, authenticity, gastronomy, and Nature herself — especially my cherished Delaware River.
Places such as Riverton and Burlington NJ, and Perkasie and Sellersville, PA, remind us, along with Lumberville: Without preservation, we would have little or none of the experiences and photographs on this ‘page.’
This canal was connected to our D&R Canal by an aqueduct at nearby Raven Rock. Much of New Jersey was settled, in the canal era, beside canal towns. Before that, the Delaware was the main artery. Lumberville was named for the trees harvested there and floated down the river to build Pennsylvania and New Jersey in those centuries. It is a miracle that not only beauty, but even artifacts of those time, let alone buildings, remain.
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I celebrate living in the Delaware Valley, because it is so easy to get to beauty and wildness, and HISTORY, within an hour’s drive or less! It wasn’t like this in Michigan, which became a state in 1837… Open your eyes and your tastebuds newly to our surroundings. Give yourselves these memorable gifts.
From their web-site — you see, yet another passion, art in general and Delaware Valley Impressionism in particular…
As you can see from the original date stone on the front of the store, our beautiful building has stood on River Road since 1770. Over the years – with ownership passing from local family to local family – the General Store has always honored the same fundamental tradition: providing a place for the community to congregate. While our visitors may not be relying on us for their weekly groceries these days, we’re proud to still maintain the cozy, communal feel that has defined our store’s history.
This once-sleepy area alongside the Delaware River steadily developed over the course of the late eighteenth century, and with it, the General Store. In 1775, Revolutionary War hero Colonel George Wall, Jr. acquired the land and began personally overseeing the store. He also (modestly) renamed the area “Walls Landing” and created two lumber mills, a grist mill, and a surveying school. By 1825, the store started to serve a dual purpose as the post office of the newly renamed “Lumberville” – a moniker chosen by Jonathan Heed and Samuel Hartley in response to the successful saw mill operations. As the eighteenth century turned into the nineteenth, the General Store exchanged hands between the Livezey family and the Heed family.
Over time, Lumberville became a bucolic haven for artists, such as Martin Johnson Heade, who was originally a “Heed” before leaving for Europe to study painting. His romantic landscapes experienced a resurgence in popularity the 1940s, with pieces selling for up to $1,000,000. When the daughter of his nephew, Elsie Housely, became the owner of the General Store in 1939, she ensured Heade’s continued recognition after disassembling his sketchbook and selling the pages to eager dealers and collectors. The store remained in her capable hands until 1973, when the ownership changed again.