The infamous Bull’s Head saloon, where then General George Washington is rumored to have raised a celebratory pint or two after the British withdrew from the city at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, may have been found in New York City.
Preservationist Adam Woodward explored a building at 50 Bowery, which has housed a number of businesses over the years, from the Atlantic Garden beer garden to a chain drug store, and is currently scheduled for demolition to make room for a new hotel. What he found was amazing and possibly a change in fate for the old building.
“At one point there was a distinct change in the building material, from cinder block to a brick-and-stone foundation wall,” he told the New York Times after his recent visit into the cellar of the building at 50 Bowery. “I followed that wall and found myself at the front of the building, under the sidewalk at the Bowery, and looked up and saw what looked to me like 18th-century hand-hewn and hand-planed joists and beams with extremely wide floorboards right above them. I was thinking, I am standing in the cellar of the Bull’s Head.”
“I can’t think of another lot in Manhattan that has a more important history,” Mr. Woodward said, “and the fact that it might be intact, a couple of feet under the building, is an incredible opportunity to get on archaeological record.”
The Bull’s Head opened around 1750 on the fringe of what was a young city below the Bowery. Washington and his troops reportedly marched down the Bowery and stopped there in 1783 before making “their official entrance into the city proper,” said Kerri Culhane, a historian who wrote the application that won the Bowery a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The neighborhood “was a butchers’ district in the 18th century and the 19th century,” Ms. Culhane said. “People drove livestock down from the hinterland and the slaughterhouse was behind the Bowery. That’s where the trading took place.”
What an amazing discovery for American History! Woodward and other preservationists don’t want that new hotel to happen, obviously, and are hoping that the city steps in to further investigate the site, which could be one of the oldest remaining historical locations in New York City.
image via wikipedia commons