October is not just about the changing colors of leaves and cooler temperatures; it’s also about immersing yourself in history, nature, and community. Here’s a sneak peek at our upcoming events in October 2023.
When: October 6th and 14th
Delve deep into the annals of history with a guided tour of the Historic City Tavern. This building stands as a testament to the tales and epochs gone by. Take advantage of this chance to walk through its hallowed halls and experience a touch of yesteryears.
With Speaker: David Schwarz
When: October 5th
David Schwarz, renowned for his insights on historic preservation, will be gracing the stage. Join the CNU DC Chapter and City Tavern Preservation Foundation in what promises to be an enlightening talk.
With Speakers: Michael Stevens, Matt Bell, and Robert Peck
When: October 19th
Another date for the diary for those who love history and architecture. Listen to the combined wisdom of Michael Stevens, Matt Bell, and Robert Peck as they discuss topics close to the heart of the City Tavern Preservation Foundation and CNU D.C.
When: October 12th
The Appalachian Trail, stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, is not just a trail. It’s a journey through history, nature, and human perseverance. This talk will take you on a trek through time, exploring the origins, challenges, and sheer marvel of this iconic trail.
When: October 22nd
This is a gentle reminder for all the gala enthusiasts: grab your Early Bird Tickets before they fly away! Ensure you’re part of the dazzling event that everyone will be talking about.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or someone who loves a good evening out, October has something for everyone. Mark your calendars and get ready for an enriching month ahead!
The City Tavern may have witnessed a dinner for President Thomas Jefferson’s cabinet members held in a Georgetown tavern on July 4, 1808. The location of this event was either at the current site of the City Tavern building or at a nearby tavern. Seventeen formal toasts were given, including to “The United States of America—Distinguished by nature’s choicest gifts, liberty and independence, peace and plenty—to preserve these blessings what privations will we not sustain, what dangers not encounter!”
A tradition of patriotic toasts on the Fourth of July may have begun at least ten years earlier, when James Madison penned eighteen “Toasts prepared for the 4th of July 1798,” including one for the presidential rivals, then-Vice President Jefferson and President Adams (who ran against each other in 1796 and 1800): “May the former never feel the passions of John Adams nor the latter be forsaken by the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson.”
The dinner for Jefferson’s cabinet on July 4, 1808, was presided over by the president of the Bank of Columbia, which occupied the building next door to the City Tavern. According to the newspaper report of this event, the cabinet officials in attendance included the Secretary of State. President Jefferson’s Secretary of State from 1801 to 1809 was James Madison. It thus appears that Madison, our nation’s fourth president, like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, also at one time passed through the doors of the City Tavern in Georgetown. At the time of the Fourth of July dinner in 1808, Madison had already been nominated as the presidential candidate of the Democratic-Republican party. Later that year, Madison defeated the Federalist candidate, winning the 1808 presidential election. Madison succeeded Jefferson and won re-election in 1812.
It is an interesting coincidence that at the dinner for John Adams in June 1800, held in the Long Room at the City Tavern and marking the arrival of the nation’s new capital in Washington, seventeen planned toasts were given to welcome Adams and the new capital. At the dinner for Jefferson’s cabinet on the Fourth of July in 1808, precisely seventeen planned toasts were again delivered (each set followed by a few more “volunteer” toasts).
The historic rivalry between Adams and Jefferson lasted at least until July 4, 1826, when they died on the same day, hours apart, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps the toasts for Adams at the City Tavern in 1800, and the Fourth of July toasts for Jefferson’s cabinet in 1808 (likely also at the City Tavern), as well as the toasts penned by Madison for the Fourth of July 1798, may have each played a minor role in their patriotic, life-long rivalry?
Tale courtesy of B Bello, July 4th memo.
In 1959, the City Tavern building was slated to be torn down to construct a parking lot in the center of Georgetown. When a woman named Marjorie James recognized the architecture of the building from the back side dormers as the Federal period, she began a quest to learn more about the building. The other two federal-era taverns, the Columbia Inn and the Union Tavern, were long gone, so everyone thought the City Tavern had also disappeared. With some research and due diligence, it was discovered that the City Tavern, now a print shop, was still alive.
The small group of neighbors and friends with historic preservation in mind formed the City Tavern association, bought the building, and undertook restoration with Macomber and Peter architects. The vehicle to save and preserve the building was a private club with the only object and sole purpose — the historic preservation of a building.
Because of that group of people, this landmark still stands and is an outstanding example of the restoration work done and the great bones of the original 1796 building.
The City Tavern Preservation Foundation, an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity formed to fund the ongoing restoration of the building and provide education, programming, and tours to the community, shares what we know and continue to learn to keep this building alive.
With your help, we can keep this landmark alive.
Together, we are people saving places.
For Immediate Release
October 18, 2021
Photo of Alfred D. Clarke now permanently displayed at The City Tavern
Washington, D.C. – October 18, 2021. The City Tavern Preservation Foundation announced that a photo of Alfred Delaney Clarke is now on permanent display at The City Tavern. Mr. Clarke and ten other family members were enslaved by a former owner of the two hundred twenty-five-year-old building in Georgetown. The inclusion of the photo in the storied building was commemorated in a dedication program on October 15, 2021, attended by seventeen of Mr. Clarke’s descendants.
Alfred Delaney Clarke (1852 – 1925) was in the third generation of his family enslaved by Eleanor Lang, the proprietor of The Georgetown Hotel from 1834 – 1865. Lang’s hotel did business in the historic building that is now The City Tavern. Mr. Clarke, his mother Elizabeth, and nine other family members were forced to labor in the hotel. They were emancipated on April 16, 1862, by the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act.
The photo of Alfred D. Clarke, made available by his descendants, is the only portrait known to exist of anyone who resided in the building. Constructed in 1796, City Tavern is believed to be one of the oldest buildings and the last remaining Federal-period tavern in the District of Columbia. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the nineteenth century, the tavern was at the center of Georgetown’s civic, business, and social activity. While continuing to celebrate its ties to early American leaders, the City Tavern Preservation Foundation has determined that it will document and share all facets of the site’s history.
During the commemoration luncheon, Mr. Clarke’s great-granddaughter Lynette Clarke led libations in tribute to the memory of her ancestors who once lived and toiled in the hotel. Breena Clarke, another great-granddaughter and a best-selling author of historical fiction, commented on her family history in Georgetown and the relationship to her literary works.
Yvette LaGonterie, the researcher who uncovered the history of the Clarke family at The City Tavern, explained that Eleanor Lang’s connection to the Clarke family began with her purchase of two teenage girls in the mid-1820s. In the mid-1830s, Lang brought the girls and their offspring with her to The City Tavern, which Lang renamed Georgetown Hotel. Ms. LaGonterie also noted that African-Americans, enslaved and free, had a role in the history of every historic building in Georgetown. Ms. LaGonterie is distantly related to the Clarkes. She was recently elected a director on the board of the City Tavern Preservation Foundation.
Mary Beth Torpey, president of The City Tavern Club, remarked “it is through the Clarke lineage that we collectively can honor and appreciate the full story of the building’s past.”
The City Tavern Preservation Foundation conducts free tours of The City Tavern and holds educational events open to the public.
PR Contact: Yvette LaGonterie