Charles Koonce & the History of Tara
The building that houses Tara – A Country Inn by Charles Koonce, who owned 1300 acres in what was then called the town of Clarksville. A once bustling town on the Erie Canal Extension, nineteenth-century Clarksville was the halfway stop between Lake Erie and Pittsburgh.
When the railroad came into prominence (railroads have been around since ~1800 with steam engines predating them) Clarksville essentially became a ghost town and was inundated when the Shenango Reservoir was built in the 1960s. With most of Mr. Koonce’s land now underwater, the highest point in the area still boasts his beautiful historic home.
In a story similar to the Winner’s other inn, The Buhl Mansion Guesthouse & Spa, the building passed through a succession of owners and many years of neglect and abandonment. Once a red brick Federal-style farmhouse, Samuel Koonce, the grandson of Charles Koonce, whitewashed the home and added the Ionic columns and porches to give the home a southern Georgian plantation charm. After years of standing vacant, Jim and Donna Winner fell in love with their future “Tara” and purchased the building in 1984. Two additions later the grand and glorious Tara – A Country Inn stands as an imposing landmark in Western Pennsylvania.