Man Thinks He's Found NYC's Oldest Building

And it's slated for demolition

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 17, 2013 1:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – In 1783, after the British soldiers left New York City, George Washington is believed to have stopped for a celebratory drink at the Bull's Head tavern. Now a preservationist thinks he's found the historic site—and if he's right, it could be the oldest building in Manhattan. Adam Woodward had heard that the building at 50 Bowery, currently scheduled to be demolished so a hotel can go up, might have "the Bull's Head's structure, cellar, bones," he tells CBS New York. So he searched the basement, and "found myself in what I am pretty certain is the 1750s historic tavern," he says.

Specifically, he found what he thinks are hand-hewn and hand-planed joists and foundation walls from the Colonial era. Since that time, the building has housed a drugstore, a Chinese restaurant, and a beer garden, among other things. Now he's hoping city officials will preserve the site, saying, "What an incredible opportunity that the city suddenly has for this thing to re-emerge." A historian is also convinced it is indeed the old tavern, and investigations have been launched by elected officials and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Eater NY reports. But ultimately, the commission says, it "cannot require the owner to conduct archaeology," so a lot depends on him. He's apparently not talking yet; the New York Times couldn't get hold of him.

Part of the New York skyline is seen at sunset.
Part of the New York skyline is seen at sunset.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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