Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

Take a moment to journey back to the 18th-century tavern and hotel where famous historical figures and everyday people dined and slept. Through tours, program, and special events, learn about the history, architecture, decorative arts, social customs, food, and clothing of this changing time in American history.

Page updated on Aug 11, 2020 at 11:21 AM

Gadsby's Tavern Museum

Gadsby's Tavern ExteriorGadsby's Tavern Museum consists of two buildings, a ca. 1785 tavern and the 1792 City Hotel. The buildings are named for Englishman John Gadsby who operated them from 1796 to 1808. Mr. Gadsby's establishment was a center of political, business, and social life in early Alexandria. The tavern was the setting for dancing assemblies, theatrical and musical performances, and meetings of local organizations. George Washington enjoyed the hospitality provided by tavernkeepers and twice attended the annual Birthnight Ball held in his honor. Other prominent patrons included John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

Tour Gadsby's Tavern Museum Online

The tour of these two taverns - the 1785 tavern and the 1792 City Tavern - explores power in the new Republic and its impact on people.

Now Open

The Museum is now open Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m. We will add more days later in the summer. As OHA museums reopen, they will initially operate at 25% capacity and will require purchase of tickets in advance at The Alexandria Shop.


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Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the August 8, 2020 City-wide remembrance in memory of Benjamin Thomas, who was lynched in Alexandria on this day in 1899, is being conducted virtually on this In Memoriam page.


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We are excited that Gadsby’s Tavern Museum reopened on August 7 in accordance with the Commonwealth’s Forward Virginia Plan. Learn more about initial hours, timed tickets, and safety measures.


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Build your social justice muscles this summer! As our nation and city come to terms with their legacies of racial injustice, take the 30-Day Challenge to learn, listen, explore, and act to make positive change. Learn about our city’s important African American history to build your base of knowledge. Listen and explore to understand the struggles, triumphs, and legacies of African Americans across the nation and throughout the centuries. Act to bring equity in America and in Alexandria.


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Gather your supplies together for a Hamilton Watch Party! Don’t throw away your shot to make a hat, write a toast, and prepare your snacks, all inspired by the 18th century. 


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Museums are beginning to reopen in accordance with the Commonwealth’s Forward Virginia Plan. The Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum and Gadsby's Tavern Museum are now open. Public programs are cancelled until further notice. Refer to the Calendar for the status of Commission and other departmental associated meetings. For additional information about the City of Alexandria’s actions, visit alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus.


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Miss visiting your favorite Historic Alexandria sites? Looking for some fun historic activities to share with your kids at home? Let our staff bring history virtually to you! 


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Help Historic Alexandria chart a new path for the summer and fall as we seek to bring history to you in new and different ways! Please take a few minutes to take the survey!


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Peaceful vigils, protests and other events took place in Alexandria during the first week in June, following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. Recognizing the importance of this moment in history, the Office of Historic Alexandria invites the community to share signs, t-shirts, flyers, photographs, journals, personal stories, and artifacts that document local vigils and protests. 


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As we experience this unprecedented time in the history of our town and the world, the Office of Historic Alexandria is embarking on a project to record our City’s response by conducting oral histories and collecting select memories, objects and documents from across the Alexandria community.


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The Historic Ice Well at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum offers a glimpse into early Alexandria’s commercial and social history. An important and rare example of a commercial well in an urban environment, it provided the tavern with a ready supply of ice to cool beverages or help make the new desert of the day, ice cream.


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Immerse yourself in the spaces and the stories of the tavern! Developed based on feedback from guests over the past two years, this new experience allows you to journey through the museum at your own pace. Funded by Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society.


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Experience the museum independently at your pace, or join us on an In-depth guided tour. Discounts are available to AAA Members and to visitors who have dined at Gadsby's Tavern Restaurant. Admission is free for members of the  Gadsby's Tavern Museum Society, AAM members,  HHMC member organizations, and Alexandria City Employees.


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Meet in the same room George Washington met in...Drink in the same room Thomas Jefferson drank in. Gadsby's Tavern Museum was the center of Alexandria’s social scene in the 18th century -- and now these historic rooms are available to you and your guests for your own historic event!  


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Gadsby’s Tavern Museum supports educators in classrooms, in homes, and within organizations. Our on-site programs range from special tours and hands-on activities to lectures and living-history opportunities. Education programs and educational outreach kits can be tailored to meet the needs of your specific group!


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Step back in time and enjoy our historic hospitality through the period dance program! Prepare for the next ball with dance classes and spend a lively evening exercising your skills at a formal period ball. Whether you dance the night away or just tap your toes, recall Philip Fithian’s 1774 saying: “Virginians are of genuine Blood. They will dance or die!” 


Museum and Office Hours

Museum Hours
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m.
Public programs are cancelled until further notice.     

Closed
New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas 

Office Hours
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., by appointment only.

Email the Museum

Email Gadsby's Tavern Museum

Event Tickets

To purchase tickets to events at Gadsby's Tavern Museum and to shop online, visit The Alexandria Shop. Visit the Historic Alexandria Calendar for a full list of events.

Other Important Links


National Historic Landmark  |  National Register of Historic Places 

American Alliance of Museums logo  National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom logo Save America's Treasures

 

American Alliance of Museums
Accredited Museum 
 

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