Special Report

Oldest Bars in America

Source: Courtesy of Cantwell's Tavern

Cantwell’s Tavern
> Location: Odessa, DE
> Founding date: 1822

Founded as Cantwell’s Bridge Hotel and Tavern by businessman William Polk, this beautiful Federal-style tavern was purchased by the Ashby Hospitality Group in 2011 and beautifully restored to have cozy fireplaces and plenty of old-world charm. The large menu has raw bar items, pizzas, sandwiches, and local-inspired specialties, along with a wide array of cocktails and local beers.

Source: amanderson / Flickr / Public Domain

Under-the-Hill Saloon
> Location: Natchez, MS
> Founding date: early 1800s

Located on the Natchez waterfront, formerly a thriving cotton port, Under-the-Hill Saloon originally catered to grifters, cut-throats, and other unsavory types. Today, it’s a homey bar with brick walls, cold beer, and great Mississippi River views from the front porch.

Source: Jameson Tavern / Facebook

Jameson Tavern
> Location: Freeport, ME
> Founding date: 1801

Built as a private home in 1779 and converted to a tavern two years later, Jameson Tavern served as a meeting place for commissioners of the Province of Maine. It’s where they signed papers to declare independence from Massachusetts and today is known as “the birthplace of Maine.” New ownership took over in 1981, and they restored it to as it may have looked when first constructed. It is now one of the best places in the state for a traditional Maine lobster dinner.

Bell in Hand Tavern
> Location: Boston, MA
> Founding date: 1795

Going strong near Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall since it was opened by the former town crier after he retired (hence the name), Bell in Hand Tavern first attracted printers, politicians, and sailors, and today it’s a beloved hangout for locals and tourists alike. It oozes Colonial-era charm, and is a great place for a beer and bar food in the heart of historic Boston.

Source: yeoldetavern.net

Ye Olde Tavern
> Location: Manchester, VT
> Founding date: 1790

Founded as an inn, Ye Olde Tavern (originally called the Stagecoach Inn) catered to the famed Green Mountain Boys and is older than the state of Vermont itself. It was painstakingly restored in the 1970s, and was added to the Vermont Register of Historic Places in 2020. It still looks very much as it might have 200 years ago, and it is a great place for a candle-lit dinner of New England specialties like Yankee pot roast and scrod.

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