How the Red Swan Inn got its name, or did it?

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Warwick In History Minutes | 0 comments

“Warwick in History” – This fable of how the Red Swan Inn got its name appeared in TWO CENTURIES IN WARWICK published by the Warwick Historical Society.

The Red Swan Inn was Warwick’s largest hotel, and in its early days a favorite of local people as well as New Yorkers. For several years the Warwick Historical Society held an annual dinner there.

The legend is that the inn took its name from a swan that was painted red by two men hired to paint a barn. It seems they hid a barrel of applejack in a spring on the place, and at some point when they were enjoying its contents, a pet swan stalked up and squawked at them. This was too much to take, even from a swan, and so they punished the bird by daubing it a good barn red. As the day went on the painters made more frequent trips to the barrel and on one of these trips accidentally left the cork out, and the precious applejack flowed into the spring.

About this time the swan concluded he didn’t enjoy being red and plopped into the spring to wash himself off. While doing so he tried a drink… It tasted so good he tried a few more.

From then on, not only were the painters drunk, but so was the swan. And so, the story goes, the Red Swan Spring became locally famous.

Although many people have been amused by the repetition of this story, the truth of the matter is that those who gave the Red Swan Inn its name were inspired by the Indian legend recounted in Longfellow’s HIAWATHA.