>Anyone with a fetish for the Revolutionary War, early American history, and especially George Washington is in for a very special treat at the Fraunces Tavern Museum, which I was delighted to find down the street from my office (not that I have any of those particular history fetishes myself). While I myself do not fall into that category, I still was giddy with delight at my visit on my lunch hour. The museum is a historic landmark located in a tavern opened in 1762 by Samuel Fraunces as the Queen’s Head Tavern, which pioneered take-out service for people who lived in the neighborhood. The Tavern captured its place in history when George Washington stopped by after the British evacuated New York. He had a big gala there on Nov. 25, 1783, and later gave his famous farewell speech to officers of the Continental Army there on December 4.
The museum is two stories and is operated by the New York State chapter of the Sons of the Revolution. It is a highly amusing mix of reproductions, photographs of historic statues and plaques, and tschotchkes spread over two floors. The money shot of shrines, though, is the one dedicated to George Washington. There is a fragment of George Washington’s coffin in a tin case and a chunk of George Washington’s pew from St. Paul’s Church. If you have ever wondered what the original GW looked like under his powdered wig, here’s your answer: a locket of George Washington’s hair is encased in a circular glass frame. (Who knew it was reddish brown?) There is also a fragment of George’s tooth encased in a locket, under a magnifying the glass. The tooth came from George’s denture. I’ll warn you that it is a little on the decayed side and leave it at that.
Finally, in what may be the most pointless museum display ever, there is a shrine to Flag Day amongst all the historical ephemera. A glass case is filled with miniature American flags and pictures of the Flag Day Parade on June 14, 2001. Long live Flag Day!
A trip to the Fraunces Tavern Museum will only set you back $3 and 45 minutes of your life that you will never see again. The best bargain in the Financial District!