Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fraunces Tavern Museum: Pearl and Broad Street

Long Room, where General George Washington Bid Farewell to his Officers at War's End
Back in the late 90s I worked just across the street from Fraunces Tavern.  I ordered dinner late at night from there often, but I am embarrassed to say that I never knew there was such a remarkable museum there.  I braved sleeting rain today to visit the museum, and was rewarded with an amazing step back in time on a self-guided tour.

The museum admission is $10 for adults $5 for seniors and students (for more detailed information on New York colonial history, current events, museum hours of operation, etcetera, please see  While the museum doesn't have all the bells and whistles of larger museums like the Natural History Museum or guided tours of federally funded historic sites like the Teddy Roosevelt birthplace (please see my prior post), the not for profit Sons of the Revolution have done an amazing job restoring this historic site and amassing a very respectable sizable collection of period furnishings, paintings, and artifacts.  See photos at left and below right of an early 1800s pistol and revolutionary period rifle, bullets, and trumpet.  

There is a very informative 15 minute video that tells the history of the site, first as the stately home of Oliver de Lancey, then as a tavern owned and operated by Samuel Fraunces (who also served George Washington as a spy and later as a member of Washington's house staff) -- when the site attracted all manner of business and revolutionary activity, and later as the site where the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of War operated.  It also relates the history and development of colonial New York and how Fraunces Tavern served a critical role at so many significant times.

It was at Fraunces Tavern that the Sons of Liberty met to plan before the American Revolution, where New York's first Governor George Clinton celebrated the British evacuation of New York, and where on December 4, 1783 in the Long Room (see first photo and photo at left) General George Washington met with all of his officers to say farewell after winning the war.

Thanks to the incredible foresight of the Sons of the Revolution, who in the late 1800s purchased the building and restored it to the way it was when George Washington often met at Fraunces Tavern, and the continuing work of the organization to collect period artifacts, this little museum is a real gem and definitely worth a visit for those interested in American history.

No comments:

Post a Comment