Green Infrastructure Adventure: Eavesdropper

Bausman House

121 East King Street

Built in 1762 by German immigrant William Bausam, this cut-sandstone, five-bay facade with Georgian features is a rare sight in an area where brick buildings are dominant. The cornerstone located on the second story in the center of the house has the alternate spelling of Bowsman and includes his wife’s name, which was unusual for the time.


The carved eavesdropper under the west roof corner is the only one of its kind in Lancaster. It reminds passersby not to gossip since someone is always listening. The concept of the eavesdropper dates back to the court of King Henry VIII. He had these carved and painted figures added to the eaves of the palace’s Great Hall in 1529 as a stern reminder to both staff and guests that he heard everything. Click here to learn even more about Lancaster’s curious eavesdropper.

Bausman House Eavesdropper
This “eavesdropper” serves as a reminder not to gossip on the street below.

William Bausman

Bausman joined the Patriot cause very early in the struggle against Great Britain. He was a member of Lancaster’s Committee of Correspondence and later served on the Committee of Observation and Inspection.

Before the actual fighting, he was particularly aggressive in pursuing violators of the patriot boycotts.

Bausman was Lancaster’s Chief Burgess (similar to the position of mayor) during the critical period between 1774 and 1777 when the city was inundated with exiles, refugees, prisoners, and militia.

In 1777, he served as a special State Commissioner responsible for the disposition of the estates of those defined as traitors by the State Council of Safety.

As a merchant and innkeeper—Bausman kept the Sign of the County House Inn—he was in a unique position to help the Continental Army. He held contracts with state and continental officials throughout the war to provide badly needed supplies such as beef and lamb.

For a brief period, Bausman was barracks maters of the borough’s prisoner of war facility. He worked closely with other patriots in maintaining order in the borough.

Grave of William Bausman


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