New York Architecture Images- Lower Manhattan



William Mersereau


54 Pearl Street at Broad Street.








House, Tavern



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fraunces tavern block


Built on the site of the Etienne de Lancey estate (1719), the current is a 20th century recreation of a historical building. Purchased by Samuel Fraunces in 1762, the de Lancey residence became the "Queen's Head" Tavern -- a fashionable center of 18th century New York life, and site of many important events in the early history of the United States.

Today the building contains a restaurant and meeting rooms. Mersereau's reconstruction (following the fire of 1900) is a conjectural rebuilding of the original Fraunces Tavern, in other words, it is a 20th century interpretation of the general characteristics of Georgian Style architecture.

Fraunces Tavern was originally built as a house for Oliver de Lancey, a member of the prominent Delancey family that contended with the Livingstons for leadership in colonial New York. The Delanceys sold the house to Samuel Fraunces, who operated it as a tavern. Much of the Revolutionary history of New York revolved around Fraunces Tavern. It was one of the meeting places of the Sons of Liberty in the pre-war years.

During the tea crisis of 1765, a British captain who tried to bring tea into New York was forced to give an apology to the public at Fraunces Tavern. The patriots, dressed as Indians as had the participants in the earlier Tea Party in Boston, then dumped his tea into the harbor.

In August of 1775, Americans took possession of cannons from the Battery at the tip of Manhattan and exchanged fire with a boatload of British soldiers. They retaliated by firing a 32-gun broadside on the city, sending a cannon ball through the roof of Fraunces Tavern.

When the war was won and the Americans had re-occupied the city, it was at Fraunces Tavern that hosted Washington and his officers in a victory banquet. On Dec. 4, 1783, Washington was again at Fraunces Tavern to say farewell to his officers in the Long Room. Saving America from the fate of many republics that turned quickly to military dictatorship, Washington quickly resigned his post and returned to civilian life.

After the war, the tavern housed some offices of the Continental Congress as the country struggled under the Articles of Confederation. With the establishment of the Constitution and the inauguration of Washington as president in 1789, Fraunces Tavern became the home of several government agencies, including the departments of Foreign Affairs, Treasury and War.

The tavern slowly deteriorated after the capital moved to Philadelphia and then Washington, D.C., though the building remained a functioning tavern through much of the 19th century. The Sons of the Revolution began holding meetings in the building in the late 1800s and purchased and restored it in the early 20th century.

Washington's Farewell To Officers At Fraunces Tavern At War's End

In 1762 an enterprising and ambitious innkeeper named Samuel Fraunces purchased a three-story brick mansion which had been built on one of Manhattan Island’s first landfills. Under Samuel Fraunces’ proprietorship the building became a well-known gathering place - - - a place for friends and strangers to meet, mingle and share a drink. But Mr. Fraunces tavern was frequented by the leaders of a revolution and thus became more than just a local watering hole.

Taverns were vital centers of community activity in the 18th Century, as important as the local church or Town Hall. They were a crucial link in a new and growing society, places where strangers were introduced, where merchants could conduct business, and where everyone could get the latest gossip as well as the news on the growing political unrest in the colonies.

Samuel Fraunces owned the tavern building for 23 years, during which it witnessed unprecedented events that changed the course of history. It was here, in 1768, that the first New York Chamber of Commerce was born., Fraunces also played host to the Sons of Liberty who galvanized popular support for the coming revolution, It was at a meeting of the provincial Congress of New York, that Samuel Fraunces first met George Washington. The two men developed a long lasting friendship, which led to Fraunces’ appointment as Chief Steward in our first President’s household.

Although many events of great significance occurred at Fraunces Tavern, it is most often remembered for its association with George Washington, who spent many hours enjoying his host’s dinners and well appointed bar. It was in the Museum’s Long Room, in 1783, that General George Washington made his emotional farewell address to his officers.   

By the early 1770’s the political climate in the colonies was building towards a tempestuous climax. Fraunces decided to put the tavern up for sale. He failed to find a buyer but acquired the patronage and friendship of George Washington with the result that, as disputed between King and Colonies became more demonstrative, the “Queen’s Head”, as the tavern was originally known, became a meeting place for those who opposed the crown.

Fraunces never lost the confidence or friendship of the patriot leaders evidenced by the fact that when, on November 25, 1783, Governor Clinton gave a great public dinner for General Washington in celebration of the British evacuation, it was held at the Queen’s Head”. Soon thereafter, the tavern was renovated, and the old sign bearing the portrait of Queen Charlotte taken down.

December 4, 1783, in the tavern’s long room, saw General Washington, on the eve of his retirement to Mount Vernon, bid an affectionate farewell to his officers. After partaking of some wine, and with emotion too strong to be concealed, the General said:

“With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that you later days may be as prosperous as you former one have been glorious and honorable,” 

The time of separation had come. Passing silently through a double line of the light infantry, he walked on to Whitehall where a barge ferried him from New York to Paulus Hook, New Jersey and the beginning of the long journey home.

Exhibits At Fraunces Tavern® Museum

215-Year-Old U.S. Flag One of 100 On Display

An exhibit of more than 100 flags, one dating form the time when New York was the nation's capital, opens June 5 at Fraunces Tavern® Museum.

The "Liberty Tree" Flag, which first flew in 1787, was exhibited in the centennial year of the Battle of Lexington, 1875, but has not been seen by the public for decades.

The exhibit includes a flag that flew over Lafayette's grave after the liberation of Paris, along with reproductions of two flags carried by his regiment during the American Revolution. Flags from the 1800s include one dated from the period of the War of 1812, a ship's flag with unusual four-pointed stars, a pre-Civil War version of Old Glory with applique stars, and an eight-foot pennant from the top of a sailing ship mast.

A 38-star flag marks the admission of Colorado in 1876, while 45- and 46-star flags in the exhibit served after Utah and Oklahoma joined theunion in 1907 and 1912, respectively.

The Flag Gallery shows some of the more than 200 Revolutionary War-era flags owned by the Sons of the Revolution. Most are reproductions, but there are originals, including a U.S. flag from 1787, and several from the 1800s. Pictured here are the flags of the Newburyport Company, Washington's Cruisers, Hanover Associators, the Second Pennsylvania Regiment of 1777 and Washington's Headquarters.



Fraunces Tavern: Forging a New Nation

On April 23, 1785, Samuel Fraunces sold his tavern, ending his 23 years as owner of one of New York City’s most famous gathering places. Eight weeks later a new tenant moved in—the U.S. Government. Three vital components were housed inside the walls of the tavern - The Department of Foreign Affairs, the Deparment of War and the Department of Treasury - where great early leaders such as John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox would have jostled for space with clerks, officeseekers and members of the public. Somehow, in these cramped offices and noisy confines, the business of running the Early Republic was carried out.


Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay and his staff moved into four rooms of the building on June 19, 1785. Two more departments of the young American government moved into the building over the next two years. Both the Department of the Treasury and the Department of War established offices here at Fraunces Tavern in April, 1787. The building, so long a center of New York social life, now became a nerve center for the new Republic.

The exhibit will include a recreated office from the Foreign Affairs Department, as well as paintings, artifacts and documents that reveal what business was like for the new policymakers, as well as the steps taken to forge a new government.

John Jay - The first Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Cornelius Tiebout (1785)

George Washington: "Down the stream of life"

He was a hot-tempered redhead with little formal education. He stood nearly 6 feet 4 inches tall, could crush walnuts with his bare hands, and loved to dance. A natural athlete, he was called “The greatest horseman in Virginia” by Thomas Jefferson. He explored the frontier, won the heart of the most eligible widow on the continent, and helped create a new nation by the force of his character. Why, then, do so many Americans think of George Washington as the grumpy old man on the dollar bill?

George Washington was, and remains, the first “Action Hero” in American history. His powerful physique and strength of character served him well, preparing him for the challenges to come. His fifty years of public service, from teenage Surveyor of Culpeper County to revered elder statesman of the new American nation, have never been equaled.

George Washington: “Down the stream of life,” traces the stages of Washington’s remarkable life. Drawn from Fraunces Tavern® Museum’s extensive collection of artwork, the exhibit offers a glimpse of Washington in some of the familiar — and unfamiliar — roles he was called upon to play. The real George Washington emerges from these works as the man he truly was — a hero for his time. And for our own.

The Long Room

The Long Room is the site of General George Washington's famous farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolution. Based on extensive research of inventories and estates of tavern keepers of this period, the Long Room is a re-creation of an 18th century public dining room.

The Sons own an orderly book from Washington's spymaster Benjamin Tallmadge, in which he describes the farewell: "With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable."

The Long Room where Washington gave his famous farewell to his officers. The room is on display at the Museum.

The Clinton Room

The Clinton Room represents an early 19th century private dining room. It is named for George Clinton, the first American governor of New York, who hosted a dinner party for General George Washington at Fraunces Tavern in November 1783 to celebrate the British evacuation from New York. The Sons of the Revolution own Clinton's sword, which hangs over the fireplace.

The Clinton Room is named for Patriot New York Governor George Clinton, who held a banquet at Fraunces Tavern for George Washington on the day the British evacuated New York, leaving America in defeat. The Clinton Room displays the finer furnishings of an affluent family.

Sons Of The Revolution

The Sons exhibit tells the history of the organization and its founders, while offering a sampling from its collection of Revolutionary War objects and documents. The military objects in the Fraunces Tavern Museum collection include this British army canteen, an engraved powder horn and a bugle.

The exhibit includes a miniature of the statue of Nathan Hale, which the Sons commissioned for City Hall Park. It also tells of the organization's role in discovering artist Frederick MacMonnies and the parts Augustus St. Gaudens and Stanford White played in the project.

The display cases were constructed for the Sons by Tiffany. The Revolutionary period objects include a pistol owned by Lafayette. A section on the history of Fraunces Tavern, tells of its role in Revolutionary War times and includes parchment deeds to the building dating to the early colonial period.

Sections are devoted to the founders of the organization, John Austin Stevens and Frederick Tallmadge, as well as information on the Sons efforts to mark significant Revolutionary War sites in the city with plaques and tablets of artistic value.

Study of Washington at Valley Forge
E. Leutze (1858)

The Long Room displays period furniture.

The Clinton Room

The military objects in the Fraunces Tavern Museum collection include this British army canteen, an engraved powder horn and a bugle.