A new beginning for Buckeye Tavern
Buckeye Tavern owners Hope and Terry Bender and longtime friend Jeff Trainer, owner of the Sands Convention Center, have begun to build a new establishment at 3741 Brookside Road, Macungie.
The original Buckeye Tavern, built in 1735, was destroyed in a fire May 12, 2015.
According to a news release from the Pennsylvania State Police Troop M Fire Marshal Unit Nov. 30, 2015, the fire was determined to have originated at the rear exterior of the building in the vicinity of several commercial coolers/freezers.
“This will be a new beginning,” Terry Bender said of Buckeye Tavern during an interview Dec. 1. “I’m excited.”
Customers will see a few changes when Buckeye Tavern opens in late spring or early summer of 2017.
“There will not be a second floor,” Bender said. Instead, the first dining room will be bigger. In addition the horseshoe shaped bar will be bigger with over 20 taps and 100 different kinds of beer.
Handicapped bathrooms are planned for the back of the building where the beer coolers were.
“The front porch will be heated and insulated,” Bender said.
Other changes include a basement, an office area, an additional dining area and an outside smoking area.
Bender said construction is moving at a fast pace. All stone has been power washed and restructured. The flooring is being installed and wooden beams and the roofing should be completed soon.
Shows and large parties will be booked for the Alburtis Tavern, which Bender also owns, but not at Buckeye Tavern.
“It won’t be the same as before; it will be the new Buckeye,” Bender said. “We will keep the Buckeye feel where the community can meet and dine with a nice menu.”
Bender said the township has been great to work with in the planning and rebuilding of Buckeye Tavern.
Bender said since the fire, rumors have been generating about the fate of Buckeye Tavern — from selling the tavern to opening a sports bar — none of which are true.
“It will just be a little different,” Bender said.
Community members are not alone in their excitement for Buckeye Tavern to reopen.
The landmark was opened as an inn and hotel in 1735 and operated through the late 1800s as the East Macungie Hotel and later as The Load of Mischief.
In October 2009, The Press ran a story about potential ghosts at Buckeye Tavern.
Members of the Lehigh Valley Anomalous Phenomenon Investigation Society stayed in Buckeye Tavern one evening armed with cameras, microphones, infrared thermometers, electromagnetic field meters and electronic voice phenomenon recorders.
“They caught a couple of things,” Bender said in an interview with The Press at that time. “They made CDs and gave one to me. One sounded like an old person downstairs, an older lady. What was that voice? I don’t know.” Bender said upstairs they heard something else.
“It sounded like this,” Bender said of a raspy voice saying the word, “Susan.” Laughing, Bender said he came up with a drink, “The Screaming Susan.”
A LAPIS member also placed an equine figurine on the bar during the investigation hoping to stimulate a response from a suspected spirit. They later produced a recording sounding something like a little girl whispering the word “horsie.”
“We left the figurine behind by accident and when we went back, we couldn’t find it. We searched all over the building and finally found it under the staircase, propped up against a wall that could only be reached by crawling on your hands and knees. We don’t know how it got there,” Maryanne Tettemer, co-founder of LAPIS said at the time.
During the Buckeye Tavern fire, images surfaced on the Internet of a ghostly figure in an upstairs window while flames were destroying the second floor.
Bender said after the fire, the paranormal investigators returned and determined the spirits were still there and were “angry.”
That was evident when “Susan” allegedly sabotaged the interview and photo session at Buckeye Tavern with Bender Dec. 1.
After a series of photos in the new bar and dining areas, Bender walked out to the front porch to explain the plan. A photo of Bender on the front porch was taken but there was no image on the screen — just a black screen.
Bender’s immediate response? “That must have been Susan.”