Founders of Sons Saved Fraunces Tavern

The founder of the Sons of the Revolution, John Austin Stevens, "rediscovered" Fraunces Tavern when planning the centenary of the New York Chamber of Commerce, realizing that it was an important part of New York history. Stevens wanted to rent out the entire tavern on the 100th anniversary of Evacuation Day, but the saloonkeeper would only rent the Long Room, choosing to operate the rest of the building as a saloon during the festivities. Stevens rented the Long Room again on Dec. 4, 1883, for the organizational meeting of the society. The Sons then held meetings in the Tavern for a number of years.

The second president of the Sons, Frederick S. Tallmadge, was interested in giving the organization a permanent home and very much wanted Fraunces Tavern for that purpose. Initially, he failed, giving up negotiations when it became apparent that no clear title to Fraunces Tavern could be purchased. Instead, he led efforts to buy a building on 55th Street. Also, he made arrangements in his will for the Society to receive a lot in Gramercy Park.

As Tallmadge lay dying, an opportunity opened to buy Fraunces Tavern. He signed the deed on his deathbed, but was unable to rewrite his will to remove restrictions he had placed on the Gramercy Park property, requiring the Sons to use it as a museum. The Sons declined the Gramercy Park lot, which reverted to his family, which then donated it to the Sons without the restrictions. It was sold to help pay for Fraunces Tavern. In appreciation for the gift from the Tallmadge family, the Sons dedicated the building as a memorial to Tallamage. After the Sons sold the 55th Street property around 1918, they were able to burn the mortgage on Fraunces Tavern.

The building was in poor shape. Most of the science and art of restoring and preserving historic buildings was yet unknown and nothing remotely similar had been attempted in New York. The Sons largely rebuilt the building, giving consideration to what it was believed the original would have looked like. The foundations of the building are original and several of the rooms, including the Long Room and the Clinton Room, have been furnished with antiques of the period.

Next:
After Hale Statue, Sons Turned To Plaques



The reconstruction of Fraunces Tavern by the Sons of the Revolution won wide acclaim by architectural critics.


Washington's Farewell to His Officers, AFter
the Evacuation of New York, Fraunces Tavern, Corner Broad and Pearl Sts. New York Dec 4th, 1783, Harry Ogden, Chromolithograph, 1893.

 

The Signing of the  ConstitutionGeorge Washingtons Farewell at Fraunces Tavern Museum

Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York (SR)
Fraunces Tavern Museum
(FTM)
54 Pearl Street New York, New York 10004

SR Ph: 212-425-1776 - SR Fax: 212-509-3467
FTM Ph: 212-425-1778 - FTM Fax: 212-509-3467
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Fraunces Tavern Restaurant
54 Pearl Street New York, New York 10004
Information: www.FrauncesTavern.com
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