In honor of Fraunces Tavern’s 300th Anniversary, this special edition blog series traces the fascinating history of 54 Pearl Street to discover some previously unknown stories and information about the building and its inhabitants over the last 300 years.
2019 Book Club Season Highlights
by Mary Tsaltas
November 28, 2018
Book Club moderator and educator Mary Tsaltas gives us a look and what is in store for the 2019 season!
During my time at the museum, I’ve had the pleasure of creating several tours and programs that involved A LOT of reading and research so I am thrilled with the opportunity to lead the museum’s Book Club this year! My selections were chosen with the idea of exploring a different narrative- the spring selection is a book about pirates, how could we go wrong?
These books are interesting, but also totally readable for everyone, I wanted to make sure anyone could join and discuss (with an Insomnia Cookie in hand of course) the Battle at Yorktown, learn how Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys maybe weren’t the best thing to come out of Vermont, or dive right into a good ole conspiracy attempt to kill George Washington. You don’t need to have an extensive knowledge of the American Revolutionary War – I just want you to show up with your book, your questions, and readiness for a lively conversation!
I hope these books catch your eye and I hope to see you January 8th for our first meeting where we’ll discuss Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Hurricane’s Eye. We’ll discuss how Philbrick explores General Washington’s roller coaster of emotions and the French’s hesitancy to eventually join the Continental Army among other topics. I also have every intention of taking count of how many times we say “Rochambeau.”
See you there!
Samuel Fraunces: Revealed?
By Jessica B. Phillips
September 5, 2018
Above the southern fireplace in the Museum's Long Room hangs a portrait of a round faced man wearing a blue coat with heavy silver embroidery. He stares out over the still tavern furniture and empty plated oyster shells with a faint smile. This man is affectionately referred to as Samuel Fraunces, the Tavern's original proprietor and namesake.
In December 2017, after discovering the painting on the Museum’s online collection, German historian Arthur Kuhle reached out to the Museum with extraordinary proof that the man in our painting may not be Sam Fraunces after all. In this comprehensive blog post, Museum Executive Director Jessica B. Phillips lays out Kuhle’s theories, as well as her own extensive research, to trace the origin of the painting and unravel the mystery its story holds.
Guest Blog: "Wax Seals and Wifi: Researching Revolutionary New York"
By Lucie Levine
August 31, 2018
From the New York Public Library to the New York Historical Society, Archive on Parade founder Lucie Levine takes us behind the scenes of her research process to explore the many ways the treasures of the NYC past can be right t your fingertips!
Can I touch it? The thrilling answer: Yes. I reach out with a little awed trepidation. It’s smoother than I thought it would be. I run my index finger over the cherry-red wax. Nearly 250 years might have made it supple, but archival treatment keeps the seal on James Rivington’s correspondence cool and firm.
Rivington, agent 726, was one of George Washington’s master spies. A newspaper man, and originally a Loyalist, he was one of the last to join the Culper Spy Ring, the Continental Army’s best trained and most successful espionage outfit, which operated out of Lower Manhattan. Fittingly, Rivington died July 4th, 1802, and Rivington Street was eventually named in his honor. Read the full story.
Transcribing the Past
by Jamie Clark
August 14, 2018
Curatorial intern Jamie Clark takes us back through time to discover the humanity and humor she found in the words of revolutionaries while transcribing an issue of The Massachusetts Spy from the Museum’s collection; which will be on display in our NEW exhibition, Fear & Force: New York City's Sons of Liberty opening August 22.
The year is 1773 and the city is Boston.
The beginning of the Revolutionary War is just two years away. Just months ago, the Tea Act was passed by Great Britain’s Parliament. This Act, considered reprehensible by many of your neighbors, granted the British East India Company a monopoly on tea importation and sales in the colonies. Your opposition to this Act has been growing in the past months, and your anger has been festering like a pot about to boil over. What can you do?
For many, the answer to this question was simple: write.
The Massachusetts Spy was a political journal published by Isaiah Thomas in Boston in the 1770s. Like many papers at the time, the journal offered opportunities for merchants to post advertisements, a place for people to post obituaries or other notices, and even accepted poetry submissions. However, The Massachusetts Spy largely covered opinion pieces concerning the increasingly volatile political climate that was developing in Boston. This journal was an opportunity to voice opinions, however harsh or scathing, in the same spirit the First Amendment would eventually embody. Read the full story.
A Note from our Spring 2018 Marketing Intern
by Sarah Edmiston
May 10, 2018
My internship at Fraunces Tavern Museum was my first step into the marketing world since becoming a college graduate. I must say, it felt really great to put my education to work over the past few months here at Fraunces Tavern Museum, while also learning a ton about NYC history along the way.
Throughout my time working with Amy Kennard, the head of the marketing department here at FTM, we’ve been fortunate enough to execute several large projects along with daily tasks. There is a lot that goes into marketing as a whole. Overseeing social media accounts, planning & promoting events, and measuring feedback from visitors through research are just a few of the responsibilities of the marketing department. It’s very necessary to stay organized when juggling several projects at a time. I’m thankful for having Amy to guide me through all the processes necessary to keep up with The Museum’s online and social presence. Online marketing is so important because it builds and establishes credibility for a business or brand. In doing so, we are able to build and maintain strong relationships with museum guests and members, while preserving the historical spirit of Fraunces Tavern Museum.
I’ve always found myself drawn to the creative and visually pleasing aspects of graphic design, so I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time working on social media graphics and marketing materials for the Museum. This was by far my favorite part of the work I did here because I was able to be creative while marketing the Museum. Since I have a degree in Public Relations, I am someone who understands the importance of cohesiveness and staying true to the brand and message. If there’s one major takeaway I’ve learned it’s that there’s nothing more important than the small details! What I’m most proud of accomplishing is the official five-page Media Kit for the Museum, which was the first big project Amy and I worked on. A lot of updates and edits went into it, and upon seeing the final version printed out, I realized all that work had paid off because it looked super official!
I feel very fortunate and excited for the opportunity to remain as a marketing intern at FTM over the summer, and continue working on the ongoing projects Amy and I have started.
A Colonial Comic
by Eli McClain, Curatorial Intern
May 1, 2018
The 1940's and 50's comic Dick’s Adventures in Dreamland integrated stories of American history with adventure through the eyes of a young boy around the age of 12 to provide entertaining history to young readers. Issue No. 227 depicts Dick being present for George Washington's famous farewell to his troops on December 4, 1783.
This eight-frame comic strip proof sheet, created for the comic’s No. 227 edition, places the reader in-between the British surrender at Yorktown and the nomination of George Washington as first president of the United States. In the title frame Dick appears in his bed recapitulating the events of last week’s edition before falling back asleep. He then wakes up in Dreamland in Lower Manhattan outside of Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street. He is present in the Long Room of the Tavern during Washington’s Farewell and later appears in the room as Washington resigns as Commander in Chief in Annapolis. Read the full story.
Huzzah! To our Museum Volunteers
April 24, 2018
To wrap up this Volunteer Appreciation Month, we tip our tricorne hats to the men and women whose kindness, passion for history, and enthusiasm for connecting with visitors define our incredible volunteer program.
Volunteers at Fraunces Tavern Museum are made up of history buffs, retired teachers, and college students working towards degrees in Museum Studies and History, but they all share a passion for history, eagerness to share their interests, and knowledge with others to ensure the ongoing success of our mission to interpret and preserve the history of the American Revolutionary Era. “My favorite part about being a docent at FTM is seeing the spark in visitors’ eyes when they learn something new,” says volunteer Laurell McCaffrey. “Being able to answer a question, provide a visitor with insight on a topic, and put a smile on their face makes it worthwhile.”
Our School Program Educators assist with our educational programming by leading inquiry-based learning and hands-on activities with students from 4th – 7th grade. “What I like best about the work I do at the Museum is getting to share my knowledge and trying to encourage kids of all backgrounds to feel as excited and inspired as I am about the American Revolution and all that it stands for,” says school program volunteer Larry Bauman. “It’s thrilling to stand up in front of a class and talk about the colonists’ fight for independence and I enjoy helping students understand the unifying ideals of the Revolution.”
Our volunteer Docents lead guided tours for adults and are situated in the galleries on the weekends to answer questions and provide guests with a deeper understanding of the building’s rich revolutionary history. “What has been my favorite moment as a docent at the Museum?” says volunteer Rob Stio. “Was it the day I gave a quick tour for Leonardo DiCaprio? Or perhaps the first time I met a George Washington reenactor (aka “His Excellency”) and was able to question him about his life? There are so many! But I think it was my first day doing a tour for a father and his two sons who actually came back a few months later and remembered me!”
Our volunteers are the face of Fraunces Tavern Museum; making sure each and every visitor has a memorable and positive visit and we hope you stop by the Museum and see for yourself!
Huzzah to their hard work and dedication!
Making History at Fraunces Tavern Museum!
by Waverly Winchester, The Kiditor
March 3, 2018
Last week Kids News NYC visited us and The Kiditor went on an adventure back in time to gather stories and fun facts to use in her feature on the Museum!
Do you ever feel like going back in time? Or do you ever get bored reading about the past in history class and wish you could actually go to some places you read about? By George, I think I’ve got the place for you! My class is studying The American Revolution right now and when my mom and I read about how George Washington gave his famous farewell speech at Fraunces Tavern right here in Manhattan, we knew we just had to go see it for ourselves. So we planned a visit to Fraunces Tavern Museum. And guess what? There’s way more inside the museum than there was in my book, and in our imagination! Read the full adventure here.
Guest Blog from Washington's Quill
by Lynn Price
January 19, 2018
Read this fantastic blog post from Lynn Price, Assistant Editor at The Washington Papers, who takes us behind the scenes of the Museum's Washington's Farewell event and interviews the men behind the General himself.
On December 4, 1783, an emotional George Washington, commander in chief of the Continental army, stood before his officers in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern in New York. “With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you,” Washington toasted, as his eyes scanned the room. “I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable. I cannot come to each of you but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.” MORE.
A Note from our Fall 2018 Marketing Intern
by Amy Chipko
December 18, 2017
Any internship can be a great learning opportunity, but when you find one that combines your interests and a mission you support, the experience is invaluable. As a Communication and American Studies student, I was beyond excited to come across a marketing internship at Fraunces Tavern Museum that was an ideal fusion of both of my undergraduate majors.
Working with Mrs. Amy Kennard, Fraunces Tavern Museum’s Marketing Coordinator, my to-do list as the Museum's marketing intern varied with ongoing tasks and current projects. Each of my days began with gathering new contacts from a comment binder that guests would sign after their visit to the museum. Reading through guests’ comments was enjoyable because they clearly appreciated their visit and I was able to see the Museum's mission at work. Other ongoing tasks were maintaining a press coverage list and researching social media trends and tags for the Museum to implement on their social pages. Special projects I worked on included organizing the Museum's first marketing collateral archive, updating and building a media contact list, outlining an internal style and branding guideline, and performing media research for the Museum's popular Washington’s Farewell event.
I have learned a lot during my time here at Fraunces Tavern Museum. From a marketing standpoint, I am now aware of steps and tasks to complete in order to get more awareness for a project or organization, and I have also realized the value of keeping everything very organized. Above all, interning at Fraunces Tavern has allowed me to realize that my future as a professional does not have to be monotonous or dull. It is possible to find a place that you care about enough, making it feel less like work. I have loved working with the team here at Fraunces Tavern Museum, and will always look back on this experience fondly!
The Bottle Diggers of Lower Manhattan
by Jessica B. Phillips, Curator
November 30, 2017
In the middle of the 20th century, Lower Manhattan's skyline grew taller with the proud edifices of glass and metal skyscrapers. During the day contractors dug the deep foundation pits of future financial institutions, but as the five o'clock bell rang, a handful of local residents and businessmen would scavenge these sites, searching for the treasures they knew lay hidden beneath the dirt.
Often referred to as "bottle diggers" due to the nature of the vast majority of their finds, they would sift through dirt and partially torn down late 19th century brick buildings unearthing bottles thrown out by generations of New Yorkers dating back to the colonization of the island in the 1620s. One such bottle digger was Gifford Dieterle of Lloyd Harbor, New York. Gifford owned a company that operated out of Lower Manhattan in the 1970s and amassed a collection of bottles numbering into the hundreds that ranged from the early 19th to 21st centuries.
In early 2017 Gifford's son Tom reached out to Fraunces Tavern Museum. Gifford had recently passed and Tom was looking for a good home for the family bottle collection. Tom thought the bottles belonged back in Lower Manhattan. While Fraunces Tavern Museum was unable to receive the entirety of the collection it was fortunate to be gifted ten well preserved mallet style bottles from the 18th century.
The bottles will go on exhibit at the start of December in the famous Long Room. They will all be displayed with the other 18th century tavern-ware. The Museum is grateful for this kind gift made in memory of Gifford Dieterle.