Day 59, Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Gadby’s Tavern, Alexandria, Virginia
After I left the Boston area, I had plans to visit a friend of mine who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. I was going to spend a few days there, and use that as my jumping off point for visiting Washington, D.C. I had left Quincy, Massachusetts, and embarked on a long drive through multiple states to get to Alexandria. I split it over two days, as it is a total of about eight hours driving, through a lot of traffic. Heading from Massachusetts to Alexandria meant I had to skip some great locations, but you can’t possibly see everything on a trip, I suppose. It was tough to drive through so many great places and just pass them by! Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware, and more! I so very much want to go back and see all these places!
All that said, I rolled into Alexandria about 4 in the afternoon, and headed to Jason’s house. He had planned a surprise for my visit! He knows how much I love history, so he made reservations at Gadsby’s Tavern!
Gadsby’s Tavern was originally built in 1785 by Marylander John Wise, and opened the building next door as the Federal City Tavern in 1792. There was another tavern on the site before the current building though, which reportedly was in business from around 1770. An Englishman named Gadsby leased the tavern in 1796; the current name is a nod to him.
Back in the late 1700s, several notable guests frequented the tavern, including Founding Fathers and Presidents! George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette were all known visitors to the taverns here. A banquet was even held in Washington’s honor here in 1801; how cool to be in the same place where these men talked politics.
Gadsby operated the tavern until 1815, and then passed through various hands and it was various businesses, until it fell into disrepair and abandonment. In 1917, in this sad state, some of the ballroom woodwork was sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, where it apparently remains today. However, this was the catalyst for the historic preservation. Gadsby’s Tavern was restored to the period of the late 1700s, and reopened as a restaurant in 1976.
There is a fine dining atmosphere, with delicious food and ambiance. I had the herb encrusted grill salmon, finished with a balsamic glaze, and served with jasmine rice and sauteed spinach, and a glass of white wine. To add to its charm, period actors make their way around the room, reciting the words of our Founding Fathers and engaging restaurant patrons in discussions on the governance of our young, budding country!
It was so much fun getting to see Jason and watch the actors engage with people! An amazing experience for a history nerd like me!
After dinner we wandered around Alexandria and got ice cream nearby, just chatting and catching up. I certainly want to go back and see more of this fascinating and historic city!