Tracing the history of Coventry Forge Inn is a bit of a challenge Though Samuel Nutt owned the land on which the Inn now sits, it was not his residence, as he had Coventry Hall built as his own home. The Coventry Forge Inn property was built sometime before 1756 and was a private home for many years, until it eventually became the Rising Sun Tavern, run by Frederick Bingaman. In later years, Frederick’s son John ran the inn, but after he converted to Methodism, he cut down the tavern sign and closed up shop, rolling his liquor kegs down the hill to town, where they were, no doubt, enjoyed by the local lads. The house itself remained in the Bingaman family until 1935.
In 1937, Claire Callahan bought the property, after a friend read her a listing for the house, which described it as follows:
Log and stone house, unspoiled; worthy of a place in a museum; 9 rooms, attic, Rising Sun Tavern; discontinued as a tavern in 1817, according to history; rare old paneled woodwork, corner closets, wall closets, wide flor and partition boards, 6 fireplaces; original hardware includes “press down” door latches and irons to receive the crossbar which locked the front door; electricity, hot water heat, automatic water system; barn, garage; springhouse, all stone; spring brook making swimming pool possible; wonderful old trees; 10 acres.
With her son Wallis as chef, it was re-opened as the Coventry Forge Inn in 1954 and specialized in fine French cuisine. As a young widow and a writer, Claire had her work cut our for her just raising her two sons, much less developing the clientele for a fine restaurant, but the Callahans were determined. Though it took a while for the business to grow, it did very well, earning them a fine reputation. The Inn has been closed down for quite a few years now, and when I visited in the area about 2012, the property was unoccupied and was listed for sale.
Claire Callahan, writing under her pen name of Ann Cole Kilborn, provides a fascinating look at the old property and even includes a hint of mystery. Apparently, the woman who owned the property was eager to sell because she felt the house was ‘hexed’ as a child had died of diphtheria in the house. Her in-laws lived just down the hill from the old house and they didn’t want her to sell as they liked having the family close at hand, but Claire was able to reach agreement with the seller and the house was hers.