|Fraunces Tavern Museum Chronological History
1686 The site of 54 Peal Street was granted to Stephanus Van Cortlandt
by Mayor Nicholas Bayard.
1700 The property, created from the first landfill of Manhattan,
was given to van Cortlandt's daughters Anne and son-in-law, Etienne
Delancey, as a wedding present.
1719 Etienne Delancey constructed the three-story building at 54
Pearl Street as a family residence. This building is now the main
building of Fraunces Tavern Museum.
1737 Dancing teacher Henry Holt rented the building and hosted
1759 The building was occupied by Delancey, Robinson & Company,
a merchant firm, which used it as office and warehousing space.
1762 The building was purchased by Samuel Fraunces and opened as
the Queen's Head Tavern (also known as the Sign of the Queen Charlotte.)
1768 The New York Chamber of Commerce was founded in the Long Room.
Its offices were situated there until 1770.
1774 The Sons of Liberty plotted the New York Tea Party at the
1775 The British warship Asia bombarded the city on August 24;
an 18-pound cannonball went through the roof of Fraunces Tavern.
1776 In May and June, the New York Provincial Congress met at the
tavern. After the city was occupied by the British, Fraunces fled
to New Jersey, but was later captured and forced to return to New
York City to cook for British generals. The tavern was frequented
by British soldiers.
1783 After the British evacuated New York on November 25, Governor
George Clinton threw a huge party at the tavern in honor of George
George Washington bade farewell to his officers in the Long Room
on Dec. 4.
1785 Fraunces sold the building and moved to New Jersey. The Department
of Foreign Affairs, under John Jay, used the building as its first
headquarters until 1788.
1787 The Departments of the Treasury and War (under Henry Knox)
also moved in and used the building until 1788.
1788 After the government moved to Philadelphia, and later to Washington,
D.C., the tavern building became a boarding house. Later, it was
used as a saloon.
1798 Ballerina Anna Gardie, who was living with her husband in
the boarding house, was murdered. Her husband was also found dead
of stab wounds; the coroner ruled it a murder/suicide.
1832 The building suffered the first of several serious fires.
After each fire, the owner rebuilt and added floors, so by the end
of the 19th century the building bore little resemblance to the
1883 The Society of the Sons of the Revolution was founded in the
Long Room on the centenary of Washington's farewell speech.
1890 The first floor exterior was remodeled with cast iron and
glass storefronts. The original timbers were sold as souvenirs.
1900 The tavern building was threatened with demolition and a number
of patriotic groups, notably the Daughters of the American Revolution,
formed a committee to try to save it. This committee was the nucleus
of the later American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society.
1903 Since the owners refused to sell the tavern, and threatened
to demolish it in order to build a parking lot, the City of New
York exercised its rights of eminent domain and designated the tavern
as a park, thus saving it from imminent destruction.
1904 The owners of the tavern agreed to sell it to The Sons of
the Revolution in the State of New York. The City rescinded its
park designation and the Sons took title in July.
1905 William Mersereau was hired as restoration architect to return
the building to its colonial appearance. He did extensive research
and site analysis, but could not locate any image of the building
prior to the first fire, which had changed its appearance greatly.
The final design was somewhat conjectural and highly influenced
by the Colonial Revival movement.
1907 The restoration, one of the first in the United States, was
completed and the building was dedicated on December 4, the anniversary
of the Washington's Farewell to his officers. The museum consisted
of one room.
1917 World War I bonds were sold in the Long Room.
1940s-1960s The Sons of the Revolution purchased four additional
buildings: 58 Pearl Street, 101 Broad Street, and 24 and 26 Water
Street, which became part of the Museum Complex.
1965 The site was designated a New York City Landmark.
1970 The Long Room was turned into a period room.
1976 The third floor of 58 Pearl Street was renovated as the Flag
Gallery and the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Educational Center
for American History.
1977 Fraunces Tavern Block was designated as an Historic District
on the National Register of Historic Places.
1979 The Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums.
Additional space for special exhibitions was established with the
opening of the Mesick and Loeb Galleries.
1981 After extensive research, the Long Room was re-interpreted
as an urban tavern public room. The landmark exhibition Taverns:
For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers brought national
attention to the museum.
1997 Fraunces Tavern Museum celebrated 90 years as a museum.