Since 1975 the Back Porch restaurant, on the western bank of the Monongahela River in Lower Speers Pa., has occupied one of the oldest buildings in western Pennsylvania.
Henry Speers, Jr. originally purchased the land called the “Speers Intent” around 1785. Here, in the year 1806 he built his home next to a young Sycamore tree near the river, using local stone, and river sand to make bricks that were formed by hand and baked here on the property. The brickwork is still visible today in the dining rooms.
Diligence and hard work brought prosperity to Speers who operated ferry routes across the Mon, where cattle, driven from the western territories crossed the river on the long journey east to Pittsburgh.
Henry Speers died in 1840 and the home was handed down through several generations of his descendants before finally being sold and then abandoned for years.
During the Civil War years the old Speers home is said to have been used as a stop on the underground railroad that carried runaway slaves north to freedom. Rumors carry on to this day of a secret tunnel from the basement of the home to the river bank, used for quick escapes from bounty hunters.
In 1972 Joseph Pappalardo acquired the home and began a three year restoration that ended on Valentines Day 1975 when the Back Porch Restaurant opened it’s doors to the public.
The now huge sycamore that Henry Speers built his home next to still stands as a reminder of the proud heritage of the Speers Intent, carried on by the Pappalardo family with a dedication to preserving the very best…. From architecture and relaxing atmosphere, to fine foods.