Fraunces Tavern

 

Fraunces Tavern is a landmark, a museum, a bar and a restaurant on the southeast corner of Pearl Street and Broad Street, in Lower Manhattan. Since 1904, it is owned and operated by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York. It is maybe the most famous tavern in the U.S.

The architecture of the Fraunces Tavern building undergone major changes since the 18th century, when it was described in ads by Samuel Fraunces, being three stories high (in 1775), with capacious cellars and the attic story well adapted to the uses of a numerous family (in 1784). In 1798 it was depicted with a gambrel roof, with supposed windows of the attic fronting Broad Street. A drawing of 1850, after fires the destructed most of the roof, shows a 3-story building with a different roof, but similar to the one built in the restoration of 1906/1907 (see illustrations on the right). Drawings of 1852 and 1854, published after the fire of 1852 that destructed most of the building, show a 4-story building with a gable roof and attic windows in the Pearl Street front. This kind of roof was also sketched in another drawing of 1865. About 1870, the building was five stories high with a flat roof. In 1890, it underwent another renovation that drastically modified the ground floor.

More: Architecture of the Fraunces Tavern

The building is located in the oldest settled district in Manhattan. It occupies a site that was originally below the high water line of New York Bay, on the corner of Dock Street (now Pearl Street) and Broad Street. The location played a prominent role in history in the 18th century, when its address was 49 Grand Dock Street. In 1794, when Queen Street and Dock Street were merged into Pearl Street, it became known as 56 Pearl Street. In the 19th century parts of the building were leased to different people, who established businesses in different addresses in the Fraunces Tavern building. For example, in most part of the 19th century the hotel or boarding house operated at 101 Broad Street and it was known as "Washington's Headquarters". Different shops operated at 54 or 56 Pearl Street. Today, Fraunces Tavern is officially at 54 Pearl Street.

The lot on which the Tavern now stands was originally a landfill granted to Stephanus Van Cortlandt in November 19, 1686. Cortlandt was the first native-born mayor of the City of New York, from 1677 to 1678 and from 1686 to 1688. On April 11, 1700, Van Cortlandt passed part of the lot to Stephen de Lancey, then his son-in-law.

Cortlandt deeded the adjacent lot fronting Broad Street (101-103) to his eldest daughter, Margaret, wife of Samuel Bayard. By 1733, Robert Todd's tavern was located on this site and it became the Exchange Coffee House in 1749, owned by A. Ramsey. From 1763 until at least 1767, it was the location of the New York Gazette,
New York's first newspaper.

On January 23, 1700, Anne Van Cortlandt, daughter of Stephanus Van Cortlandt, married Stephen de Lancey (French: Étienne de Lancy, 1663-1741). The name of this French Huguenot family was anciently spelled Lanci and later Lancy, in France. It was anglicized by Étienne de Lancy on becoming a British subject in 1686, after which time he always wrote his name Stephen de Lancey, inserting an "e" in the final syllable. The "de" is originally an ordinary French prefix written in lower case. De Lancey was elected alderman in 1691 and became a rich merchant.

In April 1719, de Lancey applied to the Common Council for three and a half more feet to be added to his lot, to make it more regular in shape. He planned to build "a large brick house" on it. This corner lot had 51 feet on Dock Street front and 36 feet and 6 inches on Broad Street. It was bounded east by Philip French and south by the lot given to Samuel Bayard. It is believed that his house was completed between 1719 and 1722. The mansion served as de Lanсey’s family residence for some years, until the early 1730s.

Captain James de Lancey (1732–1800) was born in the mansion and later took over the family dry goods business. Following the war, he left New York and sailed for England. He acted as an agent for New York loyalists prosecuting their claims.

Before 1736, Colonel Joseph Robinson (1683-1759), then a merchant, leased the house and lived in it until his death in 1759. From 1737 to 1739, Henry Holt, a former dancer and actor in England, rented the Long Room in the mansion for pantomime, puppet shows and as a dance hall. De Lancey family offered the house for sale by advertisement in The New York Mercury, on January 22, 1759, when Colonel Robinson still lived there, but he died on March 16, the same year.

By May, the property was in use by the merchant firm De Lancey, Robinson & Co. then owned by Stephen de Lancey’s son Oliver, Col. Beverley Robinson, and James Parker, the heirs of Stephen de Lancey. The original "Robinson" of the firm's name was Col. Joseph Robinson. They used the building as an office and warehouse. The property was next to the Royal Exchange, where they sold all sorts of goods, army and ship stores. On January 15, 1762, the firm sold the property at public auction to Samuel Fraunces for the sum of £2,000. According to Stokes (Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1922) Fraunces  immediately mortgaged the property to Andrew Gautier.

Samuel FrauncesSamuel Fraunces (c.1722–1795), also known as Black Sam, was a West Indian of French extraction. In 1755 he was registered as a freeman and designated himself as an innholder on the City’s register of freemen. In 1756, he was granted a tavern license and, in February 27, the same year, he dissolved his partnership with James Taggert as retailers of strong liquors. On November 30, 1757, Fraunces married Elizabeth Dalley in Trinity Church, New York (possibly his second wife). Before 1776, Fraunces name was usually spelled "Francis" (saw in ads) instead of Fraunces.

Sam Fraunces owned a few taverns in the City of New York, including Mason's Arms (the first one), Queen’s-Head (the iconic Fraunces Tavern), Vauxhall Garden, a tavern at 16 Nassau Street (near Wall Street) and a tavern at 49 Cortlandt Street (near Broadway, also known as Fraunces' Tavern).

From 1756 to 1762, Fraunces operated the Mason's Arms, a resort and tavern located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Warren Street. John Jones took over Mason's Arms by April 19, 1762, but Fraunces was the proprietor again in 1775, in partnership with Campbell.

Fraunces took possession of the de Lancey' mansion before July 26, 1762, when his occupancy of the house "at the Sign of Queen Charlotte, near the Exchange" was advertised in the N.Y. Mercury. It was named after the wife of King George III, married on September 8, 1761. On September 12, 1763, Fraunces advertised his house as the "Sign of Queen’s-Head" (New York Gazette).

This was not the first Queen's Head tavern in New York. There were at least four others in the 18th century. According to Stokes, in 1731, a tavern on William St. bore this sign. Another Queen's Head, two story high, near the Exchange, where John Downs lived at the time, was offered for sale in the New York Post-Boy, on May 27, 1754. In 1778, Smith had a tavern on Cherry St. under the sign of the Queen's Head; and in 1779 James Hearn operated an inn on Brownjohn's Wharf, known as the Queen's Head Tavern and Indian Chop House.

On August 15, 1763, the governors of King's College announced to meet at "the House of Samuel Francis, near the Exchange" on August 23 (New York Gazette).

By December 1764, a Society for the Promotion of Arts, Agriculture and Economy in the Province of New York was formed to promote "the true Interest of this Colony, both public and private". Its members were invited to meet "at the House of Mr. Samuel Francis" (from New York Gazette, December 3).

In 1764, Fraunces leased, from Trinity Church, the block bounded by Greenwich, Chambers, Warren and West Broadway, the site of the old Bowling Green. By December of that year, he opened the Vauxhall Garden on the site, a resort with view to North [Hudson] River. He owned it until late in 1773.

By November 14, 1765, Fraunces leased the tavern to John Jones and he moved to Philadelphia with his family, until about 1768. There he ran another tavern. He announced in the Pennsylvania Gazette (June 12, 1766) that he had removed from Front into Water Street, where he could be found at the Sign of Queen Charlotte, in Philadelphia.

After taking over the Queen's Head, Jones renamed it "Free-Mason's Arms" (N.Y. Post-Boy, November 14, 1765). This new name did not last. In January 1767, Jones leased the building to two men: Bolton and Sigell. On January 8, 1767, the following advertisement appeared in the New York Journal:

"Bolton and Sigell Take this Method to acquaint the Public, that they propose to open, on Monday next, a Tavern and Coffee House at the House of Samuel Fraunces, near the Exchange, lately kept by Mr. John Jones, and known by the name of the "Queen's-Head Tavern", where Gentlemen may depend upon receiving the best Usage. As Strangers, they are sensible they can have no Pretension to the Favor of the Public but what results from their readiness upon all occasions to oblige. Dinners and Public Entertainments provided at the shortest notice. Breakfast in readiness from 9 to 11 o'clock. Jellies in great perfection ; also Rich and Plain Cakes sold by the weight."

This announcement suggests that Bolton and Sigell had returned the tavern's original name.  On April 5, 1768, the tavern was the place where the New York Chamber of Commerce was founded, in the Long Room, with John Cruger as president. By this time, the name "Free-Mason's Arms" was in use for Fraunces former tavern on Broadway. Fraunces returned to New York before June 16, 1768, when he announced in the New-York Journal that, since his absence from the City, Major James occupied the Vauxhall Garden.

After February 5, 1770, Richard Bolton was the sole lessee of the tavern, his partnership with Sigell was dissolved. On April 19, Bolton announced in the N.Y. Journal that he was removing to the New York Arms (Province Arms tavern), on Broadway, and offers the house (Fraunces Tavern) for rent for two years after May 1.

By September 13, 1770, Fraunces took control again of the tavern on Dock Street. He announced his return to the tavern in an advertisement in the New-York Journal. However, William Milner's name appeared in the lot of the Fraunces Tavern property in the Plan of the ground between Coenties Slip and White-hall Slip, in 1772. In fact, the New York Journal of June 20, 1771, reported that two men took "Lodgings at the House of Mr. William Milner near the Exchange".

On July 9, 1771, the Common Council convened "at the Dwelling House of Samuel Frances in the Dock Ward" (Man. Com. Coun.).

On October 14, 1773, after selling Vauxhall, Fraunces announced in the Rivington's Gazetteer that the wax figures were on display at the Queen's Head Tavern.

The tavern's popularity was largely due to Fraunces' cooking skills, very good wines and his talent for treating customers. It became a favorite meeting place for clubs, including "The Moot" and the "Social Club". The former was a club for discussing legal question, composed mainly of lawyers and politicians, including John Jay, Gouverneur Morris and Stephen de Lancey. It continued in existence until January, 1775. The Social Club met in the tavern every Saturday evening in winter, until December, 1775. Its members were a mix of both loyalists and patriots and it naturally came to an end. Before the Revolutionary War started in 1775, the tavern was a place of meetings for the independence of British Colonies, including meetings of the Sons of Liberty. The New York Tea Party was launched from the Tavern, on April 22, 1774.

On February 27, 1775, and April 17, Fraunces offered his tavern for sale in the New York Weekly Mercury:

"By private Sale, All that valuable house, many years known by the name of the Queen's Head Tavern, near the Exchange, is three stories high, with a tile and lead roof, has fourteen fire places, a most excellent large Kitchen, fine dry cellars, with good and convenient offices, sufficient for a large family, the business abovementioned, a merchant, or any other trader, is a corner house, very open and airy, and in the most compleat repair, near to the new Ferry. ..."

However, Fraunces did not succeed and continued trying to sell the tavern later, running ads in 1778, 1781 (see below) and 1784 (see below).

In May 1775, the New York Provincial Congress met in the Long Room. By this time, Fraunces had become (again) the proprietor of the tavern formerly known as Mason's Arms, with his son-in-law Charles Campbell as a partner. On July 3, a dinner of the Connecticut forces officers was announced (N.Y. Mercury) at "Mr. Samuel Fraunces's, in the Fields" (on Broadway). Here, for the first time (as long as this author knows), the name Fraunces was used instead of Francis. This tavern ceased to exist during the British occupation of the City.

The Continental Army was formed on June 14, 1775. On August 23, the same year, the battleship HMS Asia bombarded the city and one of the cannon balls crashed through the roof of Fraunces Tavern.

In April 1776, Washington and the Continental Army occupied Manhattan. On April 16, 1776, in the General Orders (Washington Papers) from the Head Quarters, New-York, announced: "A General Court Martial to sit to morrow Morning, at Mr Frances’s Tavern, at ten O’clock...". On May 1, 1776, Washington dined at Samuel Fraunces' establishment. On June 14, the Provincial Congress of New York dined in the Tavern.

On September 15, 1776, British forces under General William Howe landed on Manhattan. A civilian exodus from the city had begun well before the British fleet arrived in the harbor. In the night of September 20, a devastating fire destroyed many buildings in Lower Manhattan.

The British took control of Fraunces Tavern and turned it into officers' quarters. Samuel Fraunces was then in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He had left the operation of the Tavern to his son-in-law, Charles Campbell. Samuel Fraunces was back to the City of New York in 1778.

Between 1780 and 1781, Fraunces appeared enlisted as a Private in the Continental service in Colonel Malcolm's First Regiment of New York State Troops.

According to his own account (memorial of Fraunces to Congress dated at New York, March 5, 1785), he “submitted to serve for some Time in the Menial Office of Cook in the Family of General Robertson [General James Robertson, British Governor of New York City, 1780-1783] without any Pay, or Perquisite whatsoever, Except the Priviledge of disposing of the Remna[n]ts of the Tables which he appropriated towards the Comfort of the American Prisoners within the City.”

On March 17, 1781, Fraunces Tavern was offered for sale again in the New York Royal Gazette. Samuel Fraunces describes his tavern in that offer as:

AN elegant Three Story and a Half Brick Dwelling House, situated in Great Dock Street, at the corner of Broad Street, the property of Mr. Samuel Fraunces, and for many Years distinguished as the Queen’s Head Tavern; in which are nine spacious Rooms, besides five Bed-chambers, with thirteen Fire places, an excellent Garret in which are three Bed rooms well finished, an exceeding good Kitchen, and a Spring of remarkable fine Water therein; a most excellent Cellar under the whole, divided into three commodious apartments; a convenient Yard with a good Cistern and Pump, and many other conveniences too tedious to mention; the whole in extraordinary good repair,...

But the tavern was not sold and Fraunces continued to conduct it. Peace negotiations to end the war began in April 1782. Sometime between March 1781 and 1783, he dropped the old name of the tavern and it was known as Fraunces's Tavern. The name of a British queen was no longer suitable.

On the Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, a public dinner was given in the tavern by Governor Clinton to celebrate the event. On December 4, 1783, General George Washington received the officers of the victorious Continental Army to say farewell in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern.

In 1784, Fraunces offered his tavern for sale again in the New York Packet:

"That spacious, well built Freehold Estate, situated in Great Dock-street, well known As FRAUNCES's TAVERN.

The premises are extensive and admirably well contrived for a Hotel or Tavern, the cellars are capacious and good; the upper Rooms large & convenient for company, and the Attic Story well adapted to the uses of a numerous family; its vicinity to the New-Market, and the probability that new and elegant houses will soon be built in that part of the city, must considerably add to the value of the Estate. Though so framed and well contrived as a Tavern, it has the peculiar advantage that it may be readily converted into two separate houses, at a very moderate expence. ..."

According to the Office of the Historian of the U.S. Department of State, from January 11, 1785, to April 30, 1788, the Department of Foreign Affairs was located in Fraunces Tavern and it shared with War Office, occupying approximately 5 rooms initially. Charles Thomson, on behalf of Congress, leased the tavern for two years, commencing May 1, 1785. He was acting under authority of a resolution passed by Congress on April 4, 1785:

Resolved, by nine states, That the Secretary of Congress take a lease from Samuel Frauncis for his house, now occupied by the public, for the term of two years, at the rate of eight hundred and twelve dollars and one half of a dollar a year:"

“That a warrant be drawn in favour of the said Samuel Frauncis for the sum of sixteen hundred and twenty five dollars, on account of the said rent, and to discharge a mortgage on said house....”

In 1785, shortly after leasing the premises to Congress, Samuel Fraunces sold the property. The deed is dated April 23, and states that "Samuel Fraunces, late of the City of New York, innkeeper, but at present of the County of Monmouth, New Jersey, farmer, and Elizabeth, his wife," sell to "George Powers, butcher, of Brooklyn".

In January 1787, Secretary John Jay requested that the Department be moved into the City Hall (later Federal Hall) in May, when the lease of Fraunces Tavern would expire. He was informed that no rooms could be spared for that purpose. Accordingly, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the War Department as well, remained in Fraunces Tavern for another year, from May 1, 1787 to April 30, 1788 (Certain offices of the Treasury Department were also located there during this period). As Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jay strengthened the role of the Department in conducting foreign relations by channeling all foreign affairs matters through his office at Fraunces Tavern. Congress affirmed this in a resolution dated February 11, 1785, which required that all communications to and from the United States on the subject of foreign affairs be made through the Secretary, and that all letters, memorials, or other papers on the subject of foreign affairs for the United States be addressed to him.

In 1788, after the federal offices were removed from the old Tavern building, Powers leased the building to John Francis [or Fraunces], who had opened the True American tavern in August 1785 at No. 3 Great Dock (Pearl) Street. In May 1789, John Francis resumed operation to the old Fraunces Tavern.

In 1788, Samuel Fraunces returned to New York and, in May, he rented a space at 16 Nassau Street (and John Street) for another tavern. By the end of the same year, Fraunces was operating the former Hall's Tavern at 49 Cortlandt Street, this tavern also became known as Fraunce's Tavern. The General Stage Office was kept in this tavern. Later, it was run by his wife.

George Washington's inauguration was held on April 30, 1789. As President, Washington hired Fraunces in May 1789, as his chief steward in the Franklin Mansion at No. 3 Cherry Street, but Fraunces was dismissed in February 1790. In October, he moved to Broad Street, into the house formerly occupied by the Widow Blaaw, near the Exchange.

In 1790, the National Capital moved to Philadelphia and Washington left New York in December. In 1791, Washington invited Fraunces again to join his household in Philadelphia. There, Fraunces bought some properties and opened another tavern in 1792. In 1794, he left Washington’s household. He died on October 12, the following year, at the age of 73. He was buried in St. Peter's Churchyard of Philadelphia's Christ Church. Fraunces had five daughters and two sons with his wife Elizabeth. His son Samuel M. Fraunces, an inn keeper in Philadelphia, served as executor of his father's estate.

From 1790 to 1791, George Powers did not have tenants in the building. In 1791, Merchant John Delafield leased the property and the building was operated by tenant Benjamin Stout. Stout leased the property’s bake-house to baker Andrew Inderweek. In 1793, Stout was replaced by Charles Bernardi, who ran a boarding house and operated a dry-good store in the building.

On April 30, 1795, George Powers sold the tavern to Dr. Nicholas Romaine. Under Romaine’s ownership widow, Orcet ran a boarding house. Later, in 1800, Orcet was replaced by Daniel Coughlen who opened a grocery store and tavern. On June 24, 1800, Dr. Romayne sold it to builder John S. Moore. In June 22, 1801, Moore sold it to Thomas Gardner. Later, the tavern passed by inheritance to his son John Gardner. Ownership of the estate continued with the Gardner family until 1904.

In 1802, Daniel Coughlen was replaced by Mrs. Barde. The tavern was kept by Michael Little. On July 4, 1804, the Society of Cincinnati held a meeting, attended by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The building was then under the management of David Ross. In 1813, the tavern was kept by Rudolphus Kent.

John Gardner died in 1817 and left two daughters, Malvina Keteltas and Jane McCarthy. In the division of the estate it fell to the latter, who afterward married Count de Dion of France and became Jane de Dion. The New York Times (October 25, 1872) reported that Mr. Keteltas was the owner of the property in 1872. He died in 1876 and Malvina Keteltas, in 1894. But, the same newspaper reported on May 15, 1890, that the owner was the McCarthy estate. According to Pelletreau (Early New York houses..., 1900), "She [Jane McCarthy] has since deceased [1881], and it is now owned by her children who are living in France." They sold the property to the Sons of the Revolution in 1904.

By May 1816, the Wine, Liquor & Grocery Store Henry & Geo. Newport had established its business at No. 56 Pearl-street. In December 30, 1817, "Henry & Geo. Newport, No. 56 Pearl-street, corner of Broad-street", advertised in the New-York Evening Post to have for sale a constant supply of wines and other beverages, candles, spices &c. On March 20, 1818, No. 56 Pearl-street was advertised "To Let".

According to the Fraunces Tavern Museum, between 1827 and 1833, eleven buildings were erected on the same block. In 1832, a fire in the interior of the building resulted in the replacement of the roof. Another fire occurred in 1837. That year the tavern keeper was John H. Gardner. Other fires occurred in 1845 and in 1852 (see below).

Since 1837 or before, the old tavern was known as Broad Street Hotel (the address was 101 Broad Street, sometimes referred as Broad Street House). In the late 1830s to the 1850s it was a voting place for the First Ward. It was also used for political meetings. In the 1840s, the First Ward Democratic Clay Club used to meet at Thresher's Broad Street Hotel. According to the New York Herald (July 23, 1842), Gardner and Packard were the keepers of the City Hotel, on Broadway, and the Broad Street Hotel. The same newspaper reported on November 18, the same year, that the stockholders of the Erie Railroad met at the hotel. "There was present a vast assemblage of very large capitalists, both of this city and the southern tier". On May 20, 1845, Wm. S. Horn announced in the New York Herald that he had taken the basement of the Broad Street Hotel, enlarged and refitted it in an elegant manner for a restaurant.

In 1844, the New York Yacht Club was founded in the Tavern.

The Great Fire of 1845 did hit the Fraunces Tavern building, although this is not considered by historians when writing about the Tavern in the several sources consulted for this article. This is shown in the map of the burnt area, published in The New York Herald, on July 20, that year. The newspaper reported that "About half past nine o'clock [July 19] the roof of the Broad street Hotel [how Fraunces Tavern was referred since late 1830s], at the corner of Broad and Pearl, was found to be on fire, to the great surprise of every one, as it was some three or four blocks to the leeward from where the flames were raging at the time quite in an opposite direction, and appearance where none of the burning fragments could have reached. ... An engine was promptly on the spot, and a hose was carried through the upper windows, which in a short time were subdued, and the ignited fragments cut away."

The Weekly National Intelligencer (Washington [D.C.], July 26, 1845), reported: "The Broad street hotel, corner of Pearl street, was on fire and the top was damaged. The loss of the building would be deeply regretted, as it is a building memorable in olden time. It was here that Gen. Washington took leave of the army,...".

The Telegraph (Southport, July 29, 1845) reported: "Perhaps even a more critical point in the progress of this disastrous fire, ..., was the firing of the roof of the Broad street Hotel, on the corner of Broad and Pearl streets. This large building, from its shape and style of construction, seems one of the most ancient buildings in the city. It appears also to have a shingle roof, and if so, may easily have caught fire from the cinders which filled the air. It was said, however, to have been set fire to by an incendiary. This building is in close vicinity to the largest oil store, and warehouses for articles of a like combustible description in the city, and had it been consumed, there is every probability that the fire would have again swept over the scene of the terrible calamity of 1835. ..., the building was saved,..."

In 1845 Ernst Buermeyer (or Burmeyer, Beaumeyer or Beurmeyer) leased part of the property. He ran the Broad Street Hotel on the place, until 1860. In 1852, the old Fraunces Tavern was known as Broad Street Hotel, according to Benson J. Lossing (Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution, V.II, 1852).

About 1850, the artist Thomas Wakeman created his watercolor of the Long Room, which he called "Fraunces Hotel".

June 14, 1852, was de day of the second annual parade of the New York Fire Department, with magnificent display of engines and hose carriages. The next day, before 2 o'clock in the morning, a fire broke out in the third story of the old Fraunces Tavern. It the newspapers the building was referred as Burmeyer' hotel, "Washington's Head Quarters", Broad-street Hotel or "Broad St. House". No mention of Fraunces in the newspapers consulted.

That Tuesday morning fire was reported by the New York Times in three consecutive days (June 15, 16 and 17) and also on June 24. No reference to the famous former owner Fraunces was made. They wrote that "The building was kept as a Hotel by Mr. Burmeyer [Buermeyer], and a portion of the lower part by Mr. H.W. Haynes, dealer in Paints and Oils. Mr. Burmeyer is insured for $4,000, and his loss is about that amount. The total loss is about $25,000, on which the Grocers, Howard and North River Companies have risks, but we could not learn to what extent." They continued to report that several occupants were seriously injured. A woman jumped from the fourth story down upon the tin awning, then she was taken to the City Hospital. Three or four saved themselves, from the fourth story, by sliding down the tin leader. It was feared that several lives had been lost. The Times also reported: "The fire was no doubt the work of an incendiary, and we believe that one or two attempts to fire the building have previously been made. When the members of Hose Company entered their room, they found that one of the wheels had been removed, so they could not get their machine out. This was undoubtedly the work of the same person who fired the destroyed building." "The building in which the fire occurred is generally known throughout the City. It was in one of its rooms that Washington took his farewell of the officers of his army,... its foundation is probably the oldest in this City. An evidence of the strength of the material used, and the firm manner in which it was erected, is found in the fact that, though it was a corner building, but a small portion of the walls fell down."

The Daily American Telegraph (Washington, D.C.) in its edition of June 15, 1852, reported: "This morning the tavern known as Washington Head Quarters, at the corner of Broad and Pearl streets, was destroyed by fire. It was full of boarders, many of whom jumped out of the windows. A woman who sprang from the fifth story has since died of her injuries. It is feared that others have perished in the flames."

The New-York Daily Tribune (June 16, 1852) reported: "One German woman jumped from the third story window upon the roof of a shed, through which she passed, escaping uninjured". That was the only specific person cited in the three journals. The Daily Tribune reported that the whole upper part of the house was crowded with boarders and lodgers and, with exception of the first floor, the building was entirely destroyed. The newspaper did not report any serious injuries, but a missing man was supposed to have lost his life in the building.

The fire burned the roof. The walls on the Pearl Street side fell outward to a line just over the second-story windows. On the Broad Street side, the walls remained intact.

The New York Times (June 17) reported that a dead body of a man was found in the ruins of the building, supposed to be James Linnen, an Irishman and a boarder in the hotel. The verdict rendered by the Jury was that he came to his death by being burned at the fire at the Broad-street House, No. 101 Broad-street.

On June 24, 1852, the New York Herald reported: "A fire broke out in the ruins of the late fire, corner of Broad and Pearl streets. It originated in the fourth story, fronting on Broad street, and was quickly extinguished before it gained any headway." The incident occurred on June 22.

In 1866, William Stubner [or Stuebner], a young man, was the tavern keeper. The Plan of New York City by Mathew Dripps, 1867, indicated the property as Broad St. Hotel. In the early 1870, it was a German tenement-house, with a lager beer shop on the lower floor, according to Benson J. Lossing (Appletons' Journal, Jun 6, 1874). In 1874, the building was referred as "Washingtons Headquarters 101 Broad St." in the City Record Official Journal (March 4).

Jacob Etzel leased the old Fraunces Tavern building in 1880. In October of that year, he acquired the furniture and fixtures of the saloon from Christina Stuebner, widow (Real Estate Record, October 9). Etzel ran the Jacob Etzel Hotel in the building until about 1890, at 101 Broad Street and continued to show the signs of Washington's Headquarters on both fronts: Pearl and Broad streets. Etzel family lived in the building and the meals were served in the Long Room. In 1882, Etzel leased the saloon at 101 Broad Street to Peter Doelger, who put a sign of "Peter Doelger's Lager Bier" on the corner of the building (Real Estate Record, October 7). This lease was renovated until 1888 or later. On October 7, 1884, the New York Times reported: «Jacob Etzel, a saloon keeper at No. 101 Broad-street, proprietor of the resort known as "Washington's Headquarters," was a complainant yesterday in the Court of General Sessions against John Scharett, a barber of No. 54 Pearl-street, for sending a pistol ball though his clothing on April 16. After the fine was paid the men shook hands in reconciliation...» In 1886, Jacob Etzel leased no. 56 Pearl Street (a door in the extension of the building, next to 58 Pearl St., this extension was demolished in 1906) to Charles S. Brown, for two years, starting from May 1st (Record and Guide April 17, 1887). In the 1880s, the 54 Pearl Street was a store leased for the J. Grimes Steam & Gas Fitting. In 1888, James Grimes was listed the City Record (January 31) at 101 Broad Street as plumber in the Health Department.

On July 4, 1883, the New York Times reported: "The Twenty-second District Republican Association will join with the Loyal Club in a celebration and dinner at Faunce's [sic] Tavern,...". On December 4, the same year, the Society of the Sons of the Revolution was founded in the Long Room on the centenary of Washington’s farewell speech and they continued to hold their meetings in the Long Room, the following years. The New York Times (December 5) reported that about 60 gentlemen assembled in the Long Room at 5 o'clock to celebrate the centenary of Washington’s farewell. Many were invited by the Historical Society and Chamber of Commerce. On December 5, the the New York Historical Society promoted a turtle feast at the Long Room.

In 1888, the old Fraunces Tavern building was in very bad condition and there were stories that it was going to be demolished. The New York Times (Augusto 19) reported that those stories were happily without foundation. The newspapers also stated that "The owners live abroad, but they are fully advised of the deprecation in real state on lower Broad-street since business took a jump northward, and they know that many expensive buildings thereabont are almost tenantless."

By May 1890, another renovation began. The McCarthy estate was the owner and Ewald Hagan had leased the property on May 1. He explained to the New York Times (May 15, 1890) that "the colonial relic was not a comfortable habitation as it stood". The ground floor was dropped to street level and the exterior was remodeled with cast iron and glass storefronts. Some floors of the upper stories were replaced. The Long Room was in far better condition than the stories above it and it had been kept as nearly as possible in its old condition. Placards were hung on the walls telling the history of the place. Hagan said that the old arrangements in the Long Room would be maintained as far as possible, but he would had the rest of the house as bright as a new button in a month or so. In the same year, Ewald Hagan leased 56 Pearl St. to George Ehret (Record and Guide November 1, 1890).

Beginning in September of 1890, the Holland Society's agents marked some historical landmarks in New York with tablets, including the site of Fraunces Tavern (about October).

In July 4, 1893, the Loyal Club commemorated Independence Day by giving a dinner at Fraunces Tavern. The address reported by the Evening World was 101 Broad Street.

On April 19, 1894, the New York City Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated the third anniversary of their organization in the Fraunces Tavern. The 75 women who attended the meeting started a movement to buy and preserve the historic building.

In 1895, Ewald Hagan passed the 101 Broad Street and 54 Pearl Street, then addresses of the Fraunces Tavern building, to D. Hollweg (Record and  Guide September 14, 1895). In the same year, Edward Michels was the tavern keeper and he operated the Edw. Michels Hotel in the building, until at least August, 1898. Edward Michels was listed in the City Record (October 30, 1895) as a registered voter at 101 Broad Street. Later, Edw. Michels Hotel was replaced by the Charles & George Hotel and there was the Fraunce's Tavern Restaurant.

Throughout the 19th century, nearly all windows, doors, walls and entrances were altered or removed. The building was enlarged and expanded.

In 1900, the historic building was threatened with demolition. The Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society for the Preservation of Scenic and Historic Places joined together in an effort to save the building. The City of New York got involved and designated it as a park in 1903.

On July 30, 1904, the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York acquired the property from the heirs of Jane McCarthy, granddaughter of Thomas Gardner.

On October 20, 1905, William H. Mersereau (1862-1933) was hired as restoration architect to return the building to its colonial appearance. The building was restored in 1906/1907.

Many features of the building that existed in Washington's time have been inferred from clues left in the existing five-story structure, prior to restoration. Many clues were revealed as the material, believed to be added after the Washington's time, was dismantled. Officers of the society claimed, at the time, that the tavern would appear exactly as it was when it was first built.

During the restoration process, the slope of the roof of the tavern in the 18th century was discovered when the additional stories were taken off, then the old roof line was found indicated in the wall of the adjoining building.

The deconstruction of the building revealed that the Broad Street front was made of yellow Dutch brick from Amsterdam and the Pearl Street front, of red English brick. A distinct difference could be seen in the older bricks and mortar of the second and third floors compared to those of the fourth and fifth floors. The south wall of the fourth floor revealed the old roof line, which helped determine its original slope.

On May 1, 1907, after restoration, the building was reopened as the headquarters of the society. The building was dedicated on December 4, the anniversary of Washington’s Farewell to his officers, and opened as a museum and restaurant.

In 1940, the adjacent building at 101-103 Broad Street was reconstructed in a neo-Georgian style. The same year, the Anglers' Club moved into its second floor. The Club, founded in 1916, had among its members President Harding, Hoover and Eisenhower. On January 24, 1975, the building was hit by an explosion that killed four and injured 44 others. Members of a Puerto Rican nationalist organization claimed responsibility for the explosion.

In 1965, the building was declared a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1969, the Long Room was authentically redesigned. In 1978, the Fraunces Tavern Block was designated a New York City Historic District. In 2008, Fraunces Tavern was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

Fraunces Tavern

 

Taverns in New York City

 

 

 

Vauxhall Garden

 

 

Long Room

 

 

Broad Street

 

Historic Buildings

 

Historic Buildings NY

 

View of the roof of the Fraunces Tavern in the late 18th century by Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin (1798), between the former Royal Exchange (Broad Street) and the old Government House (Bowling Green).

It shows Fraunces Tavern with a gambrel roof with its lowest part fronting Pearl Street and supposed windows of the attic fronting Broad Street.

 

New York Tavern

 

Although just a sketch, John Bachmann showed the main lines of the Fraunces Tavern building in this drawing of 1850. It was clearly a structure with three floors and an attic, but with a different roof as showed in the drawing of 1798. The mosaic above, composed by the author of this article, shows, on the left, a fragment of the Bird's Eye View by Bachmann with Fraunces Tavern. In the middle, the same part, but with colors added with the intention of emphasizing the lines of the building. On the right a colorized version of the same drawing by Bachmann, copyrighted 1850. This is was the building, how it was after the fires of 1832, 1837 and 1845 and before the fire of June 1852.

More: Architecture of the Queen’s Head Tavern

 

Old New York

 

Original building

 

Valentine's Manual

 

Water Street NY

Including Fraunces Tavern Block.

 

Washington's Head Quarters

 

Old Tavern New York NY

 

Fraunces Tavern map

Fraunces Tavern indicated in a fragment of the Plan of the City of New York, in North America: surveyed in the years 1766 and 1767 (by Bernard Ratzer).

 

Map Fraunces Tavern

 

Fragment of a map of the City of New York by William Perris, 1855, with additional text showing Fraunces Tavern at 54-56 Pearl Street and 101 (later 99) Broad Street. For most of the 19th century, this historic building was referred as Washington's Headquarters at 101 Broad Street. Today, 101 Broad St. is the adjacent building.

 

George Washington

The historic Long Room in the Fraunces Tavern, with representation of the scene of Gen. Washington taking leave of his Officers, on December 4, 1783. Illustration published in the Valentine's Manual 1857.

 

Loong Room historic

 

Pearl Street NYC

 

Broad Street Hotel

 

Robert Shaw

 

Pearl Broad streets

 

Fraunces Hotel

 

American School

 

20th century NY

 

Taverns New York

 

Jacob Etzel Hotel

 

Fraunces Tavern Museum

 

NY 18th century

Not Queen's Head, possibly Mason's Arms.

 

Pearl St.

 

54 Pearl Street

 

Old New York

 

Broad St NY

 

54 Pearl St Renovation

The old Fraunces Tavern under renovation.

 

De Lancey

 

Harper's Weekly

 

Historic Building

 

Broad Street New York

 

 

NYC Landmark

 

Historic Tavern

 

The Fraunces Tavern after restoration (1906 / 1907), at 54 Pearl Street, on the corner of Broad Street, in Lower Manhattan. Source: Old New York, yesterday and today (1922), Henry Collins Brown (1862-1961), from the Collection of the Sons of the Revolution (New York Public Library).

 

By Jonildo Bacelar, Geographic Guide editor, May 2023.

 

New York 19th century

 

Tavern NY 1906

 

 

Fraunces Tavern

 

Historic Hotels