This past month we celebrated President’s Day.
Officially titled Washington’s Birthday, this Federal Holiday was first implemented by Congress in 1879 to honor the Father of our Country, George Washington, and was originally celebrated on February 22nd, his actual birth date.
However, in 1971 Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Monday Act, which moved Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day to designated Mondays.
Although many states have officially changed the name to Presidents’ Day to also honor Abraham Lincoln (whose birthday is on February 12th), the official federal holiday is still named Washington’s Birthday.
My family and I took advantage of the three day weekend and my daughter’s day off from school to take a trip to Manhattan.
After a full day of walking through New York City which included a scenic crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge, we decided to make our way for some late afternoon refreshment to the Fraunces Tavern, which is located on the lower tip of Manhattan in the Financial District.
I could think of no better way to honor George Washington than to visit the Fraunces Tavern, and we as a family, decided to do our small part to support their business.
In December 1783,following the British evacuation of New York City, an elaborate feast was held at the Fraunces Tavern where U.S. General George Washington bade farewell to the officers of the Continental Army.
As we walked up to the building, the little brick home stood proudly, in contrast to the sleek modern skyscrapers surrounding all sides.
We walked through the formal front door and slipped left past the hostess station to the Porterhouse Tavern. The three of us slid into a booth along the window next to a display case of top shelf whiskeys.
I found the seating to be cozy and informal; and there was a three piece acoustic Irish Band playing in the back of the bar area that not only was enjoyable, but lent an air of authenticity to the atmosphere.
We marveled at the old fixtures, including exposed copper heating pipes and the broad ancient timber beams supporting the ceiling.
As I wandered my way towards the facilities, I spied many different rooms with contrasting styles. There was a “speakeasy” colonial style bar in the back corner which was mysterious, but empty. A formal dining room which appeared to be decorated in the colonial style, as well as a less formal dining room with church pews for seating. Within,was hung a large portrait of George Washington. There was also a rustic Whiskey Bar with a fireplace and thin wooden benches along the bar.
Also on the premises was a Tavern Museum located upstairs; open daily from 12:00-5:00pm. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the museum due to our late arrival.
However, I hope to visit it sometime in the near future, and perhaps take the opportunity to have dinner in one of the other rooms I wandered through.
We finished our late afternoon beverages and got ready to plunge out into the cold New York City air.
Warmed up by the atmosphere of the tavern, as well as the food and drink, the chilly walk to the subway station didn’t seem quite so bad.
My leg muscles which were stiff after the long crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge now reanimated.
We had a terrific day in the city... one which included a glimpse of living history; a brief trip to the times and lifestyle of the Father of our Country, George Washington.