|This is an awesome historic tavern with awesome stories tied to it and they are serving up an awesome burger, and yes, our table was haunted...|
The oldest bar in the country was built by Dutch immigrants in 1668 and has been serving the public ever since. Because Tappan, in the Catskill Mountains just north of New York City, was an important place during the Revolutionary War, the Old ’76 House saw a number of famous guests, including George Washington himself. Its most notorious guest, however, was British spy, Major John Andre, who was jailed at the tavern and put on trial at the church across the street (he was subsequently hanged about two blocks away). This place is a must visit, not just for the history and excellent food, but also because part of the actual bar is still original. You can literally sit and drink at the same exact bar that George Washington once tipped back a few drinks of his own.
The Old '76 House is not simply one of America's oldest taverns. Built in 1668, The Old '76 House had a profound effect on the outcome of The Revolutionary War. Through its long use as a meeting place for patriots, The Old '76 House established itself as safe ground for Americans when the air was rife with revolution and the tavern itself served as the "prison" of the Revolution's most notorious spy, Major John Andre. That is why The Old '76 House is often referred to as "Andre's Prison", not a real prison, in fact never having been a place of incarceration for anyone before or since. On the contrary, The Old '76 House has been a haven for many a weary traveler for more than two hundred years. This great tavern has accommodated on various occasions, every General of the west wing of the Continental Army including Commander-in-Chief General George Washington who, with his chief provisioner Samuel Fraunces, dined in the comfortable atmosphere of The Old '76 House.
The story of Major Andre and Benedict Arnold is one strewn with deception, fateful remorse, and mortal consequences. It is also a story which could have changed the outcome of the Revolution. Andre, a charming, handsome, young man, was adjutant general to General Sir Henry Clinton, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America. Arnold was a brilliant and respected general as well as a great friend of General Washington.
General Benedict Arnold, having been severely reprimanded by Congress and, in fact, court martialed, had become embittered and ready to betray his country. Truly a brilliant general, he realized the strategic importance of West Point and, drawing on his longterm friendship with Washington, sought to secure the command of the fortress. Washington, who regretted the treatment and reprimand of Arnold, granted his request and thus Benedict Arnold was placed in a position to betray his country.
Arnold began to correspond secretly with General Clinton about his plan to let West Point fall into British hands. As a result, Clinton sent Major Andre up the Hudson in the British Sloop-of- War, Vulture, on September 20, 1780 to meet with Benedict Arnold. Andre was rowed ashore at the long cove just south of Haverstraw, where the two men conferred until sunrise. Their plans for the handing over of West Point still not complete, they rode on horseback to the home of Joshua Hett Smith, which stood on what is now known as Treason Hill. There it was agreed that Arnold should have one of the links removed from the great iron chain which stretched across the Hudson from West Point to King's Ferry to prevent the passage of British ships up the river. Arnold planned to replace the iron link with rope, on the pretext that the chain needed mending.
Plans were completed and Andre hid his papers, showing the fortifications of West Point and the placement of soldiers, between his "stockings and feet". Toward evening he asked to be rowed back to the Vulture, but Smith said it was too dangerous and persuaded Andre to cross the Hudson at Stony Point and proceed to the British lines by land. Near Tarrytown he was stopped by three American soldiers who discovered the incriminating papers and took him to the nearest commanding officer. From there he was taken to Tappan, where Washington had placed his headquarters, and imprisoned in The Old '76 House - then called Mabie's Inn.
After a trial in the Dutch Church in Tappan, a court of inquiry reported that Andre ought "to be considered a spy from the enemy and that, agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion he ought to suffer death." He was marched up the hill to a gallows at noon on October 2, 1780. As he stood beneath the gibbet he said: "All I request gentlemen is that while I acknowledge the propriety of my sentence, you will bear me witness that I die like a brave man." In 1820 Andre's remains were brought to rest in Westminster Abbey, London where he is regarded as a hero. Benedict Arnold died in London in 1801, shunned by friend and foe alike.
Comment: I was afraid the reputation, history and ambiance of the '76 House would all have easily overshadowed the burger they are serving here, but nay nay. The burger holds up just fine to all the tyranny, betrayal and haunted spirits that walk the dining room. The chef's choice of toppings help to make this an easy contest winner. After all, it's hard to go wrong with caramelized onions, 2 types of (non-processed) cheese, thick cut bacon that is both crispy and chewy and mushrooms sauteed to perfection in award-winning sauce. Take these toppings and pile them between what I can best describe as an artisan Kaiser bun. All you have to do is tuck a good quality beef under all that and you are a hero. And that's exactly what happened to me today, on this seventh day of the eleventh month in the year of our good Lord, two thousand thirteen. If Andre' would've just tasted the burger he would not have had any interest in giving up West Point....geeeeez, some guys. Seriously, you need to try The '76 House, it's the closest you'll ever get to traveling back in time.
|Can you tell which painting is the traitor John Andre?|
|Ironically, there were modern-day soldiers that stopped in for lunch....|
|Bar where Gen. Washington and others drank and ate. The rail at the counter's edge is the actual hitching post which was once outside the tavern and use by the forefathers of the revolution.|
|Close up of the hitching post: you can still see strap marks...|
|Partial list of historic visitors to the tavern.|
|300 yr. old rifle|
|Let's see, bacon, caramelized onions and smothered with cheese... you just can't go wrong....|
|The sauteed mushrooms had a very light hint of Magi sauce.... very nice touch....|