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At East Jersey Old Town Village

One of the most historic of all the Village structures, the Indian Queen Tavern was the site of social gatherings, traveler’s meals and repose and the center of patriot meetings during the Revolutionary War. Its most famous patrons were General George Washington who attended a dinner given in his honor by the people of New Brunswick in 1783, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams prior to his presidency.  In its time, the Tavern was considered upscale. Its remarkable restoration reflects this.

The Indian Queen Tavern was reputed to have been built as a home in the early 1700s along the New Brunswick waterfront. Later the structure was enlarged and operated as a tavern during the Revolutionary War period. By the 1780s, it was under the ownership of James Drake who also operated a ferry between New Brunswick and Highland Park.

From the late 1700s until 1818, the name of the establishment intermittently changed between Drake's Tavern and the Indian Queen. After 1818 and throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, the tavern was known as the Bell Tavern or Bell Hotel.
Federal style architecture was gaining popularity during the post-Revolutionary War period. It is often distinguished by lighter treatments of architectural elements, a reaction to the heavy look of the Georgian style that preceded it - which was noted for its wood paneling and highly decorative fireplace surrounds.  Staircases in the Federal style are exemplified by simple rounded handrails and square balusters, with light and flowing architectural features.
The Indian Queen Tavern first floor areas have been interpreted to reflect December 9, 1783, as if tavern owner James Drake were setting-up for the festivities that would take place later that evening. Although documents do not detail what furniture was in the room for Washington's visit, a number of period pieces help to depict the room setting.

Rush-bottom chairs and a looking glass (mirror) are typical of furnishings found in New Brunswick taverns.
Most bedchambers were sparsely decorated in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, often containing only beds, washstand, and perhaps a looking glass (mirror). During the eighteenth century it was not uncommon, especially in rural taverns, to be placed in crowded rooms with multiple beds. In 1794, French political refugee Moreau de St. Mery, while traveling though New Jersey, remarked on the custom of sharing rooms, which on occasion included sleeping in a bed with a stranger.

The custom transcended all classes, as even Benjamin Franklin was forced to share a room with John Adams after finding that most of the inns in New Brunswick had been filled.

Indian Queen Tavern at
East Jersey Old Town Village
1050 River Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone Number: (732) 745-3030
TTY: (732) 745-3888

New Expanded Hours:
Wednesday - Friday: 10am - 4pm
Open until 8pm, Thursdays in
June, July and August
Saturday and Sunday: 12 - 4pm

Text CULTURE to 56512 for Living History Interpreter Schedules!​
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