Fraunces Tavern Museum

Possibly the oldest surviving building in Manhattan, 54 Pearl Street was constructed in 1719 as the home of Stephen Delancey (Delancey Street was named after his son James), converted to the Queen’s Head Tavern in 1762, and later renamed Fraunces Tavern.

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The Tavern is inextricably tied up in New York’s history; besides the connection to the Delanceys, it was the site of George Washington’s farewell dinner for his troops, and briefly housed government offices, before the capital of the United States moved to Philadelphia.

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The tavern now has two parts: an operating bar and restaurant, where one of the dining rooms in the restaurant is set up to resemble what it might have looked like when Washington and his men dined there…

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…and a museum, including the room where Washington gave his farewell address and a couple others furnished in the style of the era, as well as some topic-specific exhibits.

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One room contained a collection of paintings by John Ward Dunsmore, whose oeuvre is largely focused on the Revolutionary Era, including the war and several portraits of Washington.

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Another contained a collection of flags that represented the United States — from the time it was a colony to when it had declared its independence, and later collected all 50 states.

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There was also a small gallery devoted to artifacts relating to America’s favorite violent Frenchman:

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These later rooms seemed sometimes ad hoc and neglected, and the museum could stand some refurbishment. (You can see some exposed wiring and chipped-away brick in the picture of the bust of Lafayette.) Still, it’s a unique historic landmark, and I enjoyed my visit.

Ellen

Location: 54 Pearl Street, Manhattan
Nearest Public Transit: 1 at South Ferry; 4/5 at Bowling Green; J/Z at Broad Street; Staten Island Ferry
Estimated Timespan: 45 minutes
Cost: $7 for adults; $4 for seniors/students/children
Website

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