Middleton Tavern in Annapolis – a colonial tavern in a capital city
On a recent trip I made my way back to one of my favorite historical dining establishments. Middleton Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland.
Despite the fact Middleton Tavern was the site of a historically bad blind-date I went on years ago, the landmark on the waterfront has always intrigued me. The building is believed to have been occupied as early as 1740 when it was owned by Elizabeth Bennett. (not of Pride and Prejudice fame)
Ten years later in 1750 the building was sold to Horatio Middleton who ran the ferry which carried travelers between Rock Hall on Maryland’s eastern shore and Annapolis.
Taverns were more than gathering places back then. Taverns were where people congregated to hear news, conduct business, talk politics. Before television, computers and smart phones, the tavern served as the line of communication people relied upon.
In the 18th century ferry operators were mandated by law to provide lodging for travelers. Annapolis was a favorite stopping point on the road from Virginia to Philadelphia and Middleton Tavern became a popular stop for weary travelers.
Many of those travelers were notorious. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette and others synonymous with the American Revolution frequented the tavern. And yes, George Washington really did spend the night at Middleton Tavern.
Throughout the years the building served a few different purposes. In the 19th century it was a general store. In the early 20th century the store transformed back into a tavern known as “Tydings Bar”. Finally, in 1968 John Hardesty purchased the bar and as the restaurant history states, “ gave it back the proud name it had when Annapolis was the Athens of America.”
I recently stopped in for a warm lunch on a chilly day. The place was as inviting and quaint as I remembered. The interior maintains its historical charm with decorative touches and period decor.
Gazing around – my eyes are drawn to the hanging herbs, farm tools, rack of tobacco, framed prints, the oyster bar – all indicative of the agricultural and fishing industry vital to the region throughout the centuries.
I was lucky enough to be seated next to the crackling fire. As I enjoyed the oyster loaf and a hot cup of tea, I couldn’t help thinking of that same fire place warming a weary President Washington as he traveled between Mount Vernon and Philadelphia.
Middleton Tavern is in the heart of the Annapolis waterfront. The prominent landmark in the town which was for a brief period the nation’s capital serves up a rich platter of history along with fabulous food.
If you enjoy dining in historic surroundings – Middleton Tavern won’t disappoint.
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