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

(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.

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Showing 3 of 31 comments
RangerNXS1
Oct 18, 2013 8:49 AM CDT
It might be possible to either salvage some of the archaeological timbers or incorporate them into the new design of the hotel (as is done in Quebec). Could make the new hotel quite a tourist draw and add to the value?
plain_speaking
Oct 18, 2013 7:21 AM CDT
I would love to see this preserved, yet in NYC, I have little hope...in Boston it would have a better chance....
rounder355
Oct 18, 2013 5:04 AM CDT
Americans love to destroy our historic places to make room for shinny metal boxes. This is an important piece of history, but apparently we are all to ashamed of where we've come from to preserve it.