Built as the Delancey Mansion in 1719, Samuel Fraunces purchased the building in 1762 and turned it into a tavern, later offering it as a place for political and social gatherings and distribution of news. The tavern became known as the Fraunces Tavern and is most famously recognized as the spot where George Washington said goodbye to his Continental Army officers on December 4, 1783. The tavern is also the spot where the first Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York (who own and oversee the museum) formed and the first offices of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, War, and Treasury.
The Fraunces Tavern Museum opened as a museum in 1907 and will celebrate its 300th birthday in 2019, with several special celebrations planned (check here for updates). The museum has over 8500 items in the permanent collection and rotates items on display.
Travel with Kids:
The museum is located downtown, in the financial district of Manhattan in two buildings.
Take the subway 4 or 5 line to the Bowling Green station and the museum is across the street!
The museum is located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the buildings and does allow strollers. There is a handicap elevator and ramps to make the museum handicap accessible.
In my opinion, the museum is appropriate for elementary school students and older children. Make sure children grab the Hamilton scavenger hunt. Tours are also offered Friday-Sunday at 1pm and 2pm.
The toddler set will like the flag hall and dress up area, but might not be as engaged in some of the exhibits. However, children under five are free and might enjoy the scavenger hunt with some help.
Restrooms are located on the 2nd floor.
Plan to spend 60 minutes exploring the eight galleries on two floors of the museum. Start with the introductory video next to the admission desk on the 2nd floor.
Play “I Spy” in the Fraunces Tavern Museum to find:
1. The rare and inaccurate Zuber wallpaper in the Clinton Dining Room. The wallpaper (which is also displayed in the White House!) is suppose to depict the Battle at Yorktown (in Virginia) but is set in New Jersey.
2. The sword, used by George Clinton (the Revolutionary War general and first governor of New York) in battle, in the Clinton Dining Room.
3. The collection of 40 reproduction flags used in the American Revolution, as well as regiment flags and French flags flown in service in the Flag Gallery. Check out the chronological changes made to the American flag.
4. Replica period dress up clothes in the photo booth behind the flag gallery.
5. Decoder sheets in the Agents of Espionage exhibit. Grab a mission sheet and decode secret messages using the cipher wheel.
6. Tea from 1774 (that visitors can actually smell!) in the Fear and Force exhibit.
7. A lock of George Washington’s hair and piece of one of his teeth in The McEntee Gallery.
8. Oyster pieces (excavated on site!!) set on the table in the Long Room. Oysters were commonly found in nearby waters and often served at the tavern. The Long Room, the site of Washington’s farewell address, contains dozens of period pieces (although not original to the Tavern).
9. The large punch bowl displayed on the table in the Long Room. Fraunces was well known for his homemade spiced rum.
10. The Fraunces Tavern Restaurant & Bar: Eat at the tavern! The first floor is a restaurant open for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Menu here. PS- They offers over 200 whiskeys, 130 craft beers AND a kids menu!
If you’re looking for more American Revolution history, check out our adventures at the Minute Man National Historic Park. And if you’re looking for more downtown NYC fun, check out our adventures exploring Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.
Disclosure: My family was given a media pass to explore the museum. All opinions expressed are my own.