Long Room, Fraunces Tavern

 

The historic Long Room of the Fraunces Tavern, located at 54 Pearl Street, in New York, is, as its name suggests, a room of considerable length on the second floor of the tavern, 43 feet in length and 20 in width. This kind of room also existed in other taverns. It was usually used for dancing, balls and other events. The Fraunces Tavern' Long was the site of many historic events and it housed federal offices in the Early Republic.

The building, known as Fraunces Tavern, was originally constructed as a mansion, in 1719 or a few years later, for the Stephen de Lancey' family.

From 1737 to 1740, Henry Holt, a former dancer and actor in England, rented the space that was then advertised as "Mr. Holt's Long Room". Mr. Holt used the Long Room for pantomime, puppet shows, as dance hall and offered dance classes.

In 1762, Samuel Fraunces bought the property and established the Queen’s-Head Tavern on the place, the following year. He rented out the tavern’s Long Room for meetings, parties and other events.

In 1765, the New York Society, an institution for the discussion of economic issues, met in the Long Room. They resumed their meetings in the place, in 1770.

On April 5, 1768, the Long Room was the place where the New York Chamber of Commerce was founded.

The Long Room was the meeting place of the Committee of Fifty-one, which resolved on July 4, 1774 to send delegates to the First Continental Congress. On August 25, the Massachusetts delegates to the Continental Congress were entertained by the New York delegates in the Chamber of the Royal Exchange, which was followed by a banquet in the Long Room at Fraunces Tavern.

In May 1775, the New York Provincial Congress met in the Long Room.

The Social Club assembled every Saturday night in the Long Room. Many of the city's leading merchants and politicians were members. They continued to meet at the tavern until December, 1775.

On June 18, 1776, the Provincial Congress hosted a banquet in the Long Room for General Washington and his officers to express their gratitude for the defense of the colony.

The British occupied the City of New York until 1783. On April 18, that year, Washington's General Orders to the officers and troops of the Continental Army announce the "Cessation of Hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain." He congratulates the Army, noting that those who have performed the "meanest office" have participated in a great drama "on the stage of human affairs." "Nothing now remains but for the actors of this mighty Scene to preserve a perfect, unvarying, consistency of character through the very last act; to close the Drama with applause; and to retire from the Military Theatre with the same approbation of Angells and men which have crowned all their former vertuous Actions."

On April 23, Washington sent Sir Guy Carleton a copy of the proclamation on the cessation of hostilities. He described the proclamation as having been received by him from the "Sovereign Power of the United States." Carleton had been appointed by the British government to negotiate the cessation of hostilities and the exchange and liberation of prisoners.

George Washington said farewell to officers of the Continental Army at Fraunces Tavern's Long Room, on December 4, 1783. It was then the most spacious public hall available in the city. This historic event was described in Thackeray's The Virginians (1859):

"And then Hal told how, his battles over, his country freed, his great work of liberation complete, the General laid down his victorious sword, and met his comrades of the army in a last adieu. The last British soldier had quitted the shore of the Republic, and the Commander-in-Chief proposed to leave New York for Annapolis, where Congress was sitting, and there resign his commission. About noon, on the 4th December, a barge was in waiting at Whitehall Ferry to convey him across the Hudson. The chiefs of the army assembled at a tavern near the ferry, and there the General joined them. Seldom as he showed his emotion, outwardly, on this day he could not disguise it. He filled a glass of wine, and said, 'I bid you farewell with a heart full of love and gratitude, and wish your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as those past have been glorious and honourable.' Then he drank to them. 'I cannot come to each of you to take my leave,' he said, 'but shall be obliged if you will each come and shake me by the hand.' "

George Powers purchased Fraunces Tavern in 1785. At that time, the building already served to house federal offices and continued to house them until at least 1788.

In 1883, the centenary of Washington’s farewell speech was commemorated in the Long Room. On December, 4, the Society of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York was founded in the Long Room. On the evening of December 5, some 60 members of the New York Historical Society and others, many of them descended from revolutionary officers, assembled for a turtle feast in the Long Room.

During the restoration of 1906/1907, the Long Room was reconstructed to its original dimensions and its old oak floor timbers were replaced.

In 1969 the Long Room was redesigned by architect Gerald R. W. Watland, restoration specialist, to resemble what it looked like in Washington times. In 1981, the Long Room was re-interpreted and exhibited as a colonial urban tavern public room.

 

 

Fraunces Tavern

 

 

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George Washington says farewell to officers of the Continental Army at Fraunces Tavern's Long Room, New York, on December 4, 1783. Illustration by Henry Alexander Ogden (1856-1936), copyright 1893 by The Tribune Association, New York. Source: Library of Congress.

 

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Fraunces Tavern

 

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Long Room, Fraunces Tavern

 

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