Located at 54 Pearl Street, Fraunces Tavern is more than a museum and restaurant. More specifically, it is a complex of five interconnected buildings, as owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York since 1904. The location played a prominent role in history before, during and after the American Revolution, serving as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British, and housing federal offices in the Early Republic. Beyond that aforementioned history, the complex is home to the Porterhouse Brewing Company and was seen in the movie Two Weeks Notice.
In advance of the Fraunces Tavern-presented 140th Annual George Washington Birthday Ball on Feb. 24, Downtown spoke with Jessica Baldwin Phillips and Brianna McHugh. Jessica is the Executive Director of the Fraunces Tavern Museum, previously working with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Martin Van Buren House and the Hudson River Valley Institute. Brianna has been Fraunces Tavern’s Director Of Special Events for over three years.
How did you first become involved with the Fraunces Tavern team?
Brianna McHugh: I was an acquaintance with the owner’s friend who told me they were hiring.
Jessica B. Phillips: I was hired in 2011 as the Curator.
How will you be involved with the George Washington Birthday Ball 2017?
JBP: This will be my sixth Ball. It’s the 140th Ball organized by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, the organization that owns Fraunces Tavern and opened the public museum in 1907. I’m part of the Ball planning committee and I will be presenting on behalf of the Museum.
Aside from the Birthday Ball, what else is coming up for Fraunces Tavern?
BH: The Restaurant and Tavern will be celebrating the 20th year of The Porterhouse Brewing Company brewing craft beer. This will take place on Monday, November 28th at the tavern.
JBP: The Museum has a great public events calendar lined-up.
What is your favorite item on the menu there at Fraunces Tavern?
BH: My favorite item is the meat & cheese board.
Are the beers of the Porterhouse Brewing Company exclusive to Fraunces Tavern? How did that working relationship start?
BH: No, the beers are not exclusive to only Fraunces Tavern. The Porterhouse Brewing Company is an award-winning brewery in Ireland who has beer in restaurants and taverns all over the world. The Porterhouse Brewing Company has a financial partnership with The Fraunces Tavern Restaurant.
Is there something you wish more people knew about Fraunces Tavern?
JBP: Since it’s a museum and a restaurant it’s a historic site where you can spend an afternoon. The Fraunces Tavern complex is more than just 54 Pearl Street, it’s composed of five historic buildings on the Fraunces Tavern block. We have nine galleries and one to two new exhibitions annually. We have a collection of over 5,000 pieces.
Have you always been a history buff?
JBP: Yes. When I was a kid I wrote a love poem to George Washington.
What do you like to do when not busy with Fraunces Tavern?
BH: Fortunately, I find myself always busy while inside the restaurant. If I am not in my office, I find something to do to help staff out on the floor or help the hostess with the busy front door. If I do have downtime, I enjoy reading and collecting books for my collection.
JBP: I rescue cats.
Fraunces Tavern aside, what is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
JBP: I love MAD.
BH: I do not have a favorite. But my top restaurants are not in Manhattan. I like to venture out into Queens and Brooklyn.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
BH: When visiting the restaurant and tavern, make sure to stop by The Dingle Whiskey Bar for a specialty cocktail!
JBP: Any subject has a history.