Fraunces Tavern: New York City’s Oldest Tavern
I am so fortunate to live in New York City. There is little doubt why “The Big Apple” is touted as the best city in the world. This amazing city stands as home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park! For me though, what really makes the City so extraordinary is it’s history. Wherever I go I’m reminded of it’s long and storied past. Each morning I look out of my apartment window into the Hudson River at Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants passed through before entering into the United States. On my way to work I walk past Alexander Hamilton’s gravesite at the Trinity Church Cemetery. Hamilton, who is arguably the most famous of our founding fathers created many of America’s most important institutions and died too young in a duel on the shores of the Hudson River.
However, one of my favorite historical sites in New York City is Fraunces Tavern. Located at 54 Pearl Street on the corner of Broad Street, Fraunces Tavern now stands as an iconic institution in one of New York’s most historic locations, near the Wall Street financial district. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Fraunces Tavern is a museum, restaurant, and bar. It is also New York City’s oldest tavern and the site of the famous farewell of George Washington to his soldiers of the Continental Army after the British had evacuated New York City.
Fraunces Tavern History
History has it that the building at 54 Pearl Street was bought by Samuel Fraunces in 1762 and initially operated as the Queen’s Head Tavern, before the current change of name. The property originally belonged to the then Mayor of New York, Stephanus Van Cortlandt, who bestowed it to his daughter Anne and her husband Stephen DeLancey, whose children ultimately sold the property to Samuel Fraunces. Fraunces himself was known to be an international man of intrigue and mystery. He deftly balanced his roles of a businessman with that of a presidential steward and succeeded in making Fraunces Tavern an important social gathering outlet, complete with gastronomic delights and as a medium of revolutionary activities. The Tavern thus became closely linked to many events related to the American Revolution. Fraunces staunchly supported the Continental Army with food and materials during the Revolution and was honored by the visit of General George Washington on April 13th, 1776. More importantly, the Tavern was the location of the General’s farewell to his officers at the end of the war on December 4th, 1783, after the British left the New York harbor.
To prevent Fraunces Tavern from being demolished in 1900, due to shortage of building space, the City of New York designated it as a park in 1903 and the owners subsequently decided to sell it to the Sons of the Revolution in 1904, who completely restored the building by 1907. The Sons of the Revolution opened it as a restaurant and museum and remain the current owners till this day.
Fraunces Tavern occupies a special place in downtown Manhattan and stands out amongst its contemporary neighbors. It’s yellow and red brick structure feels as if it has been simply taken out of the 18th century and placed in modern day New York City. The Fraunces Tavern Museum operates on the second and third floors, while the Frances Tavern Restaurant and Bar run on the first floor, all reminiscent of the Colonial era.
Fraunces Tavern Museum
The Fraunces Tavern Museum is comprised of nine galleries, the most famous being the Long Room, the site of George Washington’s farewell dinner. The other galleries hold collections of artifacts, art, and are periodically used for exhibitions. The Fraunces Tavern Museum is such a hidden gem because it provides a rich history not only of the Tavern, but also of early colonial life in New York.
Fraunces Tavern Restaurant
Fraunces Tavern Restaurant has been operating since it’s inception in 1762 and is currently home to some of the best food, liquor and craft beer in New York City. The menu includes, Chicken Potpie, said to have been a favorite of George Washington. If you are looking for something informal, visit Lafayette’s Hideout to chat with people and watch TV. If you are a history buff, go the Bissell Room to see the splendid mural painting of 1717, portraying downtown New York City.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has committed to ensure that Fraunces Tavern will be open for generations to come so that all visitors can step back in time to the days of the American Revolution!
I look forward to seeing you in New York City!
The Explorer’s Passage
P.S. Want to learn more about our adventure that explores the American Revolutionary War click HERE or if you have a favorite historical site in New York City we would love to hear about it just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.