Dine at the historic 1776 Dobbin House Tavern

With the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg approaching, I took a drizzly Thursday trip to the battlefield. My itinerary included a stop at the Historic 1776 Dobbin House Tavern, one of Gettysburg’s oldest and most historic homes, for a late lunch.

Dobbin House Tavern
Image courtesy of the Dobbin House Tavern Facebook page.

Dobbin House Tavern

“Four Score and Seven Years” before Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address, the Dobbin House was built. Reverend Alexander Dobbin, an early pioneer who helped settle and civilize the area, erected the original structure in 1776. Today, it is the oldest standing structure in the town limits of Gettysburg.

Born in Ireland in 1742, the short and stout Dobbin was a man of great foresight who his peers highly respected. He was an educator, minister, and rugged individual who played a significant role in the founding of Gettysburg and Adams County. Dobbin and his bride, Isabella Gamble, sailed to the New World after studying the classics in Ireland. Upon his arrival in America, he became the Rock Creek Presbyterian Church pastor, situated one mile north of what is now Gettysburg.

The Dobbin family bought 300 acres of land in 1774. They built a farm and a substantial-sized home to hold his large family of ten children. In addition, their home served as a Classical School, the modern equivalent of a theological seminary combined with a liberal arts college. It was the first of its kind in America west of the Susquehanna River and had an excellent reputation for educating many professional men of renown.

Upon the death of his first wife, Dobbin remarried the widow, Mary Agnew, who already had nine children of her own.

1821 Map of York & Adams Counties by D. Small & W. Wagner.

In addition to being a minister and educator, he was a respected community leader who dedicated himself to establishing Adams County (named after John Adams, who was serving as President) in 1800. Prior, that region was part of York County. As one of two appointed commissioners, Dobbin was pivotal in selecting Gettysburg as the new county seat.

He died on June 1, 1809 at the age of 66.

The graves of Rev Alexander Dobbin and Mary Dobbin. Image courtesy of FindaGrave.

In the mid-1800s, a secret crawl space at the house may have been a first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Mason–Dixon line. During and after the Battle of Gettysburg, the house served as a temporary field hospital.

Image courtesy of Dobbin House Tavern.


The historic house has been restored to its original beauty and character, maintaining its native stone walls, seven fireplaces, and hand-carved woodwork. The interior decor is in the traditional eighteenth-century style, with antique furnishings identical to those in Rev. Dobbin’s estate inventory. The china and flatware match fragments found during the cellar re-excavation. Even the servant’s period clothing is completely authentic, including the tie-on pockets. The house appears virtually the same as it did over 200 years ago. Several of their recipes have been featured in Bon Appetite and Cuisine magazines.

I enjoyed a meal of baked King’s Onion Soup, a char-grilled steak sandwich, and washed it down with a Rum Bellies Vengeance. This cocktail is as popular today as it was in colonial times when early American taverns served a version of this cooling, refreshing concoction. In the 18th century, rum-based drinks were the most served tavern beverage. In the 1700s, the American colonies imported 4,000,000 gallons of rum and distilled another 5,000,000 gallons.

Planning Your Trip

The Dobbin House Tavern is located at 89 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg, PA 17325 and is open daily from 11:30 to 9 pm. For more information, visit their website.

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2 thoughts on “Dine at the historic 1776 Dobbin House Tavern

  1. Yes, The Dobbins House, been going there for many years, the crowning glory to any lunch there is the homemade Ginger Bread Cake with Lemon Curd topping, a must do!!!!!

  2. My family has been dining at the Dobbins House Tavern for forty years now. My wife and I held our wedding reception at Dobbins.

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