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Lincoln Woods Inn; Mystery of the Medallions

Early Photo of the Lincoln Woods Inn, Springettsbury Township, York County, PA (From Collections of York County Heritage Trust)
Early Photo of the Lincoln Woods Inn, Springettsbury Township, York County, PA (From Collections of York County Heritage Trust)

John F. Kennedy stopped at the Lincoln Woods Inn for lunch on Friday September 16, 1960; between campaign stops in Lancaster Square and the York Fairgrounds.  This is probably what the front of the Lincoln Woods Inn looked like during that stop.  Before leaving, Kennedy asked to see Richard F. Griffith the enterprising man who built the place from an old stable in the woods along Lincoln highway.  “If everybody did his job as well as you did, this country would be in lots better shape,” Kennedy said to him with great warmth.

I believed the original stable dated back to 1878; however the “Mystery of the Medallions” probably disproves that supposition.  R. Forrest Griffith converted the stable into The Lincoln Woods Supper Club about 1953 and the establishment became the Lincoln Woods Inn about 1956.  Like many establishments along the Lincoln Highway this restaurant in the Woods took on a fitting name.  “Griff” operated the Lincoln Woods Inn until 1984.

The Lincoln Highway, conceived in 1913, was America’s first coast-to-coast highway.  To finish out the Highways’ Centennial Year, I’ll continue to write Lincoln Highway associated posts throughout December.  Previous related posts include:

Continue reading for more on the Lincoln Woods Inn and the “Mystery of the Medallions.”

 

Richard Forrest Griffith was not the first to have the idea of converting a structure in these Woods along the Lincoln Highway into a restaurant.  In early 1946 Joseph LoPiccolo, who owned and operated a Violet Hill restaurant, purchased these Woods from the Keesey family.  These Woods encompassed all the land where Hill’s Department Store, Gino’s and The Lincoln Woods Inn would eventually be located.

Joe LoPiccolo died suddenly on October 4, 1946 at the age of 59 years.  Joseph LoPiccolo’s obituary noted:

Last spring Mr. LoPiccolo purchased “The Woods,” the former home of the York substation, Pennsylvania State Police, along the Lincoln Highway, east of the Haines Road for $60,000.  The work of remodeling it into a restaurant had begun several weeks ago.

I assume that the York substation of the Pennsylvania State Police was in the home that previously belonged to Keesey families.  If that is the case, Joe LoPiccolo was likely remodeling that house into a restaurant.  If he had completed this, Gino’s would have been found at another location in York, since Gino’s was build nearly right over the site of this house.

On the other hand, if Joe LoPiccolo were remodeling the stable into a restaurant, he would be doing so before Richard Griffith created the Lincoln Woods in 1953.  With the untimely death of Joseph LoPiccolo, this widow Filomena gave up on this new restaurant in Springettsbury Township and sold the Woods in several tracts.  The owners of the Lincoln Woods tract eventually sold the “stable property” to Richard Griffith.

Richard Griffith retired after selling the Lincoln Woods Inn in 1984 at the age of 72.  He eventually settled in Chesapeake County, Virginia.  The first few lines of his obituary in The Virginian-Pilot noted:

Richard Forrest Griffith, 81, of the 700 block of Hempstead Court, a retired restaurant owner and original owner of the Lincoln Woods Inn, died Dec. 26. 1993, in Norfolk.

Mr. Griffith [1912-1993] was born in Delta, Pa.  He was the widower of Margie Brillhart Griffith [1912-1992] and was a member of Saint Andrews Episcopal Church.  He was a lifetime charter member of the Elks.  Survivors include two sons, David F. Griffith of Tucon, Ariz., and Paul R. Griffith of Chesapeake.

Mystery of the Medallions

Metal Lincoln Woods Inn Medallions (From Collections of S. H. Smith)
Metal Lincoln Woods Inn Medallions (From Collections of S. H. Smith)

The first Lincoln Woods Inn medallion in my collection was the large single-sided one.  I’ve had that one for quite some time.  My supposition was that the 1878 date signified the date that the original stable was built.  Last week I purchased the two-sided medallions and have since discovered there are other medallions out there with the same design; except with different name and place of the advertised establishment.  They ALL have the 1878 date.

MorganCoinThe back of the two-sided medallions gave the ultimate clue.  These medallions are mimicking the Morgan Silver Dollar Coin, shown here.  These 1.5” Diameter United States dollar coins were first minted in 1878.  They were minted from 1878 to 1904, and then again in 1921.

Having not found any documentation that the stable’s age went back into the 1800s, I’m now convinced the 1878 date has no significance as to when the old stable was built.

Links to related posts include:

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