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The historic White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island

A tavern or pot-house is, loosely, a place of business where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages and, more than likely, also be served food, though not licensed to put up guests. The word derives from the Latin taberna and the Greek ταβέρνα/taverna, whose original meaning was a shed or workshop. The distinction of a tavern from an inn, bar or pub varies by location, in some places being identical and in others being distinguished by traditions or by legal license. In Renaissance England, a tavern was distinguished from a public ale house by dint of being run as a private enterprise, where drinkers were "guests" rather than members of the public.



Oldest Tavern is a distinction claimed by numerous establishments. Some establishments clarify their claims with oldest continuously operating tavern, oldest family-owned tavern, oldest drinking establishment, or oldest licensed; there are many ways to distinguish the oldest tavern. The first tavern in Boston, Massachusetts was opened in 1633.[1] The White Horse Tavern (Rhode Island) is most likely the Tavern housed in the oldest building.

Many early governments met in local taverns. From 1660-1665 the Virginia government met in Jamestown at the local taverns. From 1749 to 1779, the Mosby Tavern was the courthouse, jail, and militia rendezvous for Cumberland County, Virginia and later for Powhatan County, Virginia. Gifford Dalley managed City Tavern when the First Continental Congress was formed there and in documents he is cited and styled as the keeper of the door for the First Continental Congress. Ironically Daily’s brother- in-law Samuel Fraunces owned Fraunces Tavern in New York City and Congress met there while City Hall was under construction. The last time Congress met at a tavern it was at Fraunces Tavern.

The Blue Anchor was the first drinking establishment at Front and Dock Street in Philadelphia. Tun Tavern Philadelphia was the place where the US Marines were first formed. Neither place still exists. City Tavern in Philadelphia where the Continental Congress first met is still in operation.

Jean La Fitee's Black Smith Shoppe in New Orleans, Louisiana some claim to be the oldest bar continuously operating before the Declaration of Independence, although the building might predate the Declaration Jean Lafitte himself was not born until 1776 so he could not have run the establishment before 1776.

Many Taverns served dual functions. Some were also the local Post Office and or the polling place. The US Postal Service had its origins in the private Taverns and Coffee Houses of America.[2]

A depiction of Civil War Troops reading their mail at the Eagle Tavern which doubled as the post office in Silver Springs Maryland can be seen at the Silver Springs Library. The Old Post Office Tavern is in operation today in Leavenworth, Washington. Old Kelley’s Tavern in New Hampshire is a multifunctional tavern. Colonel William B. Kelley of New Hampshire operated a tavern and was the Postmaster General for New Hampshire. The mail came and went from his home. The Hanover Tavern in Hanover County, Virginia is another Tavern which also operated as the post office. The General Wayne Inn in Lower Merion Pennsylvania also served as a post office from 1830-1850 and was also the polling place in 1806.

18th century

Until the late 18th century, the only places for ordinary people to eat out where inns and taverns.Tavern was the kind of antecedent of restaurants till 1765 where in Paris was founded first restaurant in the modern sense of the term. However, the first Parisian restaurant worthy of the namewas the one founded by Beauvilliers in 1782 in the Rue de Richelieu, called the Grande Taverne de Londres. See Restaurant

19th century

American taverns were primarily in business to serve the locals, and secondarily to serve travelers.[3] Alice Morse Earle describes the various Stagecoach Inns and Taverns in her book Stagecoach and Tavern Days.

20th century

The word tavern had developed an archaic flavour in Britain, the current term being public house (pub), though they remain a popular convention in fantasy tales and games. However, the term is still sometimes used in North America, especially in Wisconsin. The term was regularly used in Ontario, Canada until the mid 1980's, when it disappeared, having been replace with the word "bar", for almost any restaurant type of facility that sold alcohol.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TAVERN, the old name for an inn, a public house where liquor is sold and food is supplied to travellers. It is, however, now usually applied to a small ale-house where liquor only is supplied. The word comes through Fr. from Lat. taberna, a booth; shop, inn. It is usually connected with the root seen in "tabula," board, whence Eng. "table," and thus meant originally a hut or booth made of planks or boards of wood.

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Simple English

A tavern is a place where alcoholic drinks (such as beer, wine, or spirits) are served. While the word "tavern" used to be common in England, in the 19th century the word began to be seen as old fashioned. The current term today in England is "pub" which comes from public house. However, taverns remain a popular part of fantasy stories and games. The term is still commonly used in the United States.

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