Fraunces Tavern, landmark building
Fraunces Tavern is Manhattan’s oldest tavern. Originally built as a house for a wealthy merchant in 1719, it has had several reincarnations, from home to boardinghouse to office of the U.S. back in our nation’s infancy (Department of Foreign Affairs, War and Treasury), and a few other things in between. The original tavern name (in the 1760’s) was the Sign of Queen Charlotte, but commonly referred to as the Queen’s Head. Today the building serves as a tavern again, as well as restaurant and museum. It is owned by the Sons of the Revolution but run by Porterhouse Brewing Company. They also have bars in Ireland and England.
Fires, bombs, murder/suicide
The building itself has weathered several unfortunate events. It survived several fires in the 19th Century – one killing two cats named George and Martha Washington. There were two terrorist bombings. The first attack was in 1775 when British navy ship Asia fired into the city from the East River and hit the tavern, resulting in a hole in the roof. The second bombing was blamed on FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist organization. It occurred during lunch time on January 24, 1975, killed four people and injured 53. No one was ever tried for this crime. There is still a crack in the wall of the restaurant, on the mural of NYC. There was also a murder/suicide in the 1700’s. A man stabbed his wife because she was having an affair. He then committed suicide.
Washington bids farewell to troops
The tavern was a popular place in the 1700’s, frequented by George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and others. It is most remembered for being the site where George Washington bid farewell to his troops on December 4, 1783. He reportedly spoke:
“With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”
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With such a rich history plus employee reports of mysterious footsteps, jangling keys, and slammed doors, in 2013 Sleepy Hollow Paranormal went to Fraunces Tavern to lead a paranormal investigation. According to the museum’s website, the investigators spent three hours searching for ghostly phenomena. The results were that the lights went out, a video camera shut off by itself, and a voice or voices were captured on a spirit box answering several questions, including what the current year was. They also did EMF readings. Click here to hear the EVP’s and see the video.
Fraunces Tavern Museum
When you go to the tavern, you’ll get to see the Long Room where Washington addressed his troops, the Clinton Room which is a recreation of a Federalist style dining room and named not for Bill Clinton, but George Clinton, New York’s first American governor, who hosted a dinner for Washington at the tavern to celebrate the British evacuation of troops from the city on November 25, 1783. There are also Dunsmore paintings, over 40 flags with explanations of the choice of design and color, maps from the 1700’s and early 1800’s, etc. Among the more unusual items is a lock of George Washington’s hair and one of his teeth (no, it’s not wooden).
Visit Fraunces Tavern
Have lunch, dinner or just drinks at Fraunces Tavern. I’ve been there several times and always enjoyed it. Try the pot pie – supposedly Washington’s favorite. I can attest that it is delicious! While there, make sure you check out the museum.
Address: 54 Pearl Street at Broad Street
Call for reservations: 212-425-1778
Restaurant website: http://www.frauncestavern.com/
Museum website: http://frauncestavernmuseum.org/
Museum admission: Adults $7, Seniors/Students/Children 6-8 $4, Children under 5/Active Military Free. Family group rates are available.
If you can’t get there in person: Take a self-guided tour of George Washington’s New York. Click here for brochure and map.