Fraunces Tavern Museum
Lonely Planet review for Fraunces Tavern Museum
Combining five early-18th-century structures, this unique museum/restaurant combo is an homage to the nation-shaping events of 1783, when the British relinquished control of New York at the end of the Revolutionary War and General George Washington gave a farewell speech to the officers of the Continental Army in the 2nd-floor dining room on December 4.
The site was originally built as a tony residence for merchant Stephen Delancey’s family; barkeeper Samuel Fraunces purchased it in 1762, turning it into a tavern in honor of the American victory in the Revolutionary War. After the war, when New York was the nation’s first capital, the space was used by the Departments of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs. The tavern was closed and fell into disuse in the 19th century – and soon after was damaged during several massive fires that destroyed most colonial buildings and Dutch-built structures in the area. In 1904, the Sons of the Revolution, a historical society, bought the building and returned it to an approximation of its colonial-era look – an act believed to be the first major attempt at historical preservation in the USA. Today, the museum hosts historical walking tours, lectures, Revolutionary War paintings, and some surprising Washington relics, including false teeth and a lock of hair.