The Oldest Bars In America

pub-sign
The list below is an on-going project attempting to list the oldest bars still operating in the United States. This was originally a post that I did in August of 2008, prompted by another website’s list that contained many inaccuracies and omissions. My list is far more comprehensive, and is based on reader comments to the original post plus some of my own research and poking around. If you know of any others that should be on this list, please do let me know by posting a comment or sending me an e-mail.

  1. White Horse Tavern; Newport, RI (1673)
  2. The Broad Axe Tavern; Ambler, PA (1681)
  3. Barnsboro Inn; Sewell, NJ (1720)
  4. Three Tuns Tavern; Mount Holly, NJ (1723)
  5. Jessop’s Tavern; New Castle, DE (1724)
  6. Logan Inn; New Hope, PA (1727)
  7. Red Fox Inn; Middleburg, VA (1728)
  8. General Lafayette Inn & Brewery; Lafayette Hill, PA (1732)
  9. Mike’s York Street Bar & Grill; Warminster, PA (1734) [Date from reader, no claim on website.]
  10. New Boston Inn; Sandisfield, MA (1737)
  11. Brittingham’s; Lafayette Hill, PA (1743)
  12. Blue Bell Inn; Blue Bell, PA (1743)
  13. Middleton Tavern, Annapolis, MD (1750)
  14. The Avon Old Farms Inn, Avon, CT (1757) [Seems to be a hotel now.]
  15. The Fairfield Inn, Fairfield, PA (1757)
  16. The Sun Inn, Bethlehem, PA (1758)
  17. Fraunces Tavern, New York, NY (1762)
  18. Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford, PA (1762)
  19. The Publick House, Sturbridge, MA (1771)
  20. Jean Lafittes Blacksmith Shop; New Orleans, LA (1772)
  21. The Red Lion; Stockbridge, MA (1773)
  22. Horse You Came In On; Baltimore, MD (1775)
  23. Griswold Inn; Essex, CT (1776)
  24. The Tavern; Abingdon, VA (1779)
  25. The Union Hotel (a.k.a. The Allentown Hotel, now DiMattias Restaurant & Lounge);
    Allentown, NJ (1779)
  26. The Old Talbott Tavern; Bardstown, KY (1779)
  27. The Warren Tavern; Charlestown, MA (1780)
  28. Gadsby’s Tavern; Alexandria, VA (1785)
  29. Wiggins Tavern; Northampton, MA (1786)
    [tavern moved from Hopkinton, New Hampshire]
  30. Moore’s Tavern; Freehold, NJ (1787)
  31. Ye Old Tavern; Manchester, VT (1790)
  32. The Bridge Cafe; New York, NY (1794) [Appears to have not always been a bar.]
  33. Bell In Hand; Boston, MA (1795)
  34. Old Absinthe House; New Orleans, LA (1815, possibly 1807)
  35. Broadway Hotel & Tavern; Madison, IN (1834)
  36. Knickerbocker Saloon; Lafayette, IN (1835)
  37. The Old Tavern; Niles, MI (1835)
  38. Spread Eagle Tavern & Inn; Hanoverton, OH (1837)
  39. O’Malley’s Pub; Weston, MO (1842)
  40. Landmark 1850 Inn; Milwaukee, WI (1847; but currently closed for renovations)
  41. Ye Olde Trail Tavern; Yellow Springs, OH (1848)
  42. The Slippery Noodle; Indianapolis, IN (1850) [Wikipedia]
  43. Deer Park Tavern; Newark, DE (1851)
    [occupying the same spot as St. Patrick's Inn, founded in 1747, but burned down in 1848]
  44. Breitbach’s Country Dining; Balltown, IA (1852)
  45. Iron Door Saloon; Groveland, CA (1852)
  46. Genoa Bar & Saloon; Genoa, NV (1853) [new]
  47. McSorley’s Old Ale House; New York, NY (1854)
  48. Anvil Restaurant & Saloon; Ste. Genevieve, MO (1855)
  49. Old Ebbitt Grill; Washington, DC (1856)
  50. Tujague’s; New Orleans, LA (1856)
  51. McGillin’s Olde Ale House; Philadelphia, PA (1860)
  52. Arnold’s Bar and Grill; Cincinnati, OH (1861)
  53. The Saloon; San Francisco, CA (1861)
  54. Waterfront Hotel; Baltimore, MD (1861; building built in 1771)
  55. Pete’s Tavern; New York, NY (1864)
  56. Scholz Garten; Austin, TX (1866)
  57. The Original Oyster House; Pittsburgh, PA (1870)
    [Bear Tavern also opened on same site in 1827]
  58. Ulrich’s Tavern; Buffalo, NY (1870)
  59. Puddler’s Hall; Milwaukee, WI (1873; historical info)
  60. Ear Inn; New York, NY (1874)
  61. The Bucket of Blood; Virginia City, NV (1876)
  62. Shooting Star Saloon; Hunstsville, UT (1879)
  63. White Horse Tavern; New York, NY (1880)
  64. Heinhold’s First and Last Chance Saloon; Oakland, CA (1883)
  65. P.J. Clarke’s; New York, NY (1884)
  66. The Uptowner; Milwaukee, WI (1884)
  67. The Little Shamrock; San Francisco, CA (1893) [thanks to LS bartender Mike Flynn for correcting the date. The LS opened October 28, 1893, not 1863]

white-horse-ri
Arguably America’s oldest bar, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island.

The following are also contenders, but for one reason or another it isn’t clear if they were originally bars. They’re old, but they weren’t necessarily bars from their beginning or at a remote enough date in the past to make the list above.

Another list claims that The Pirate’s House in Savannah, Georgia is the oldest, despite there being over a dozen with earlier dates. And more troubling, the front page of their website says “[s]ince 1753, The Pirate’s House has been welcoming visitors to Savannah with a bounty of delicious food and drink and rousing good times,” but under their page on history, it becomes clear that it wasn’t always a bar or even a restaurant, negating their claim of “welcoming visitors” with drinks since 1753. The “American Museum Society … lists this historic tavern as a house museum. The property was acquired by the Savannah Gas Company in 1948 and the buildings soon fell under the magic of Mrs. Hansell Hillyer, wife of the president of the company, who with great imagination, and skill transformed the fascinating museum into its present use as a restaurant.” After detailing the earlier history of the area, they remark that “[t]hese very same buildings have recently been converted into one of America’s most unique restaurants.”

Also, the Green Dragon in Boston, MA opened in 1654 so presumably might be considered the oldest. In 1764, the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons bought the tavern. Unfortunately, the original location on Union Street was demolished in 1854. Its present location at 11 Marshall Street was built at a later date, but I can’t find out exactly when. It’s certainly old, but probably not more than 100 years, if that.