George Washington (may have) had a drink here

Tim Sprinkle
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Lower East Side History Project

It’s long been rumored that the remains of the Bull’s Head Tavern, an 18th-century watering hole where then-General George Washington was said to have lifted a few celebratory pints, are buried somewhere in New York City’s Lower East Side. 

Now, preservationist Adam Woodward thinks he may have found proof.

“At one point there was a distinct change in the building material, from cinder block to a brick-and-stone foundation wall,” he told the New York Times after his recent visit into the cellar of the building at 50 Bowery. “I followed that wall and found myself at the front of the building, under the sidewalk at the Bowery, and looked up and saw what looked to me like 18th-century hand-hewn and hand-planed joists and beams with extremely wide floorboards right above them. I was thinking, I am standing in the cellar of the Bull’s Head.”

If he’s right – and the New York City historical community is abuzz with speculation that he may well be – then what Woodward found could be among the oldest remaining structures in the city. It has housed a number of businesses over the years, from the Atlantic Garden beer garden to a chain drug store, and is currently scheduled for demolition to make room for a new hotel. In 1783, Washington is thought to have visited the Bull's Head after the British withdrew from the city at the end of the Revolutionary War.

Not surprisingly, Woodward and other preservationists don’t want that to happen and are hoping that the city steps in to further investigate the site.

"What an incredible opportunity that the city suddenly has for this thing to re-emerge," historian David Freeland told WCBS on Tuesday.