On Sunday, we reported that a local preservationist had possibly uncovered evidence of the Revolutionary War-era Bull’s Head Tavern beneath the Bowery. The New York Times has now picked up on the story and that preservationist, Adam Woodward, has gone public with a video and lots of photos from the scene of a potentially major historic discovery.
The photos and video can be viewed on the blog of the Lower East Side History Project. Last week, Woodward made his way into the cellar at 50 Bowery, a site which is being demolished to make way for a hotel. In an email message to fellow LES preservationists, he wrote about finding “18th century hand planed/axe-hewn joists and stone foundation walls,” evidence he surmised that the Bull’s Head was (as historians has long believed) was buried beneath the Atlantic Garden, a legendary 1800’s-era Bowery beer hall. Here’s how the Times recounted Woodward’s story:
“The whole issue of whether the Bull’s Head was buried inside the Atlantic Garden was one of the great mysteries of New York,” Mr. Woodward said. Until, apparently, the other day, when he got a look inside. He saw iron work from the 19th century and I-beams from later on. And then he saw a stairway to the basement, and headed down. “At one point there was a distinct change in the building material, from cinder block to a brick-and-stone foundation wall,” he said. “I followed that wall and found myself at the front of the building, under the sidewalk at the Bowery, and looked up and saw what looked to me like 18th-century hand-hewn and hand-planed joists and beams with extremely wide floorboards right above them.” He said, “I was thinking, I am standing in the cellar of the Bull’s Head.”
Over the weekend, historian/author David Freeland helped Woodward get the word out about the potential finding. They now hope the photos will help persuade the city to halt the demolition long enough to bring experts in to evaluate whether remnants of the Bull’s Head Tavern are retrievable from 50 Bowery. The landmarks Preservation Commission has already been alerted to the situation.
Again, you can see many more photos on the LES History Project blog.