George Washington portrait
/ AP GraphicsBank
NEW YORK (CBSNews.com) - A preservationist said he has found evidence that a Manhattan building is the former site of an 18th-century tavern where George Washington is believed to have enjoyed a celebratory drink during the American Revolution, CBS New York station WCBS-AM reports.
"After the English had marched up the Bowery and out of the city (in 1783), George Washington and Governor (George) Clinton stopped at the Bull's Head (tavern)," preservationist Adam Woodward told WCBS-AM.
If it is indeed the home of the legendary watering hole, the days of what may be Manhattan's oldest building are numbered.
The building at 50 Bowery, which has had many faces since, is being prepared for demolition so a hotel can be built at the site. Legend had it that "the Bull's Head's structure, cellar, bones" were still inside, Woodward said.
He decided to poke around and, in the basement, Woodward found what he believes are Colonial-era, hand-hewn and hand-planed joists and foundation walls.
"Found myself in what I am pretty certain is the 1750s historic tavern," he said.
Woodward said he felt compelled to investigate in the building, which once housed a chain drugstore and a beer garden, because time was running out.
"I just realized that it would be the last chance to solve one of the great mysteries of New York City history," he said.
"It was pretty incredible walking back in time 250 years."
Historian and author David Freeland told WCBS-AM that the find "would make it very likely the oldest building remaining in Manhattan."
That has Woodward hoping city officials will act quickly to preserve the site.
"What an incredible opportunity that the city suddenly has for this thing to re-emerge," he said.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.