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America's Oldest Tavern
A HISTORICAL AMERICAN TREASURE
The ‘76 House, American's oldest restaurant, is a three hundred year old structure lovingly restored to pristine condition by the Norden Family. Listed as a National Landmark, the establishment offers much more than historical significance. Today, patrons enjoy fabulous food prepared by our acclaimed chef, in a one-of-a-kind setting. Four glowing fireplaces, live music, a gorgeous garden patio, romantic porch, wine dinners and our famous Sunday brunch, have elevated the ’76 House to one of the area’s top dining destinations. We look forward to welcoming you!
The ’76 House is not simply one of America’s oldest taverns. Built in 1668, The ’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.
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