The Tun Tavern

In November we celebrate Veterans Day across the country, and this year is particularly special. For this newsletter I won’t go into the full history of Veterans Day, but I will highlight a few specific dates. Major hostilities of World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, and this armistice with Germany would be celebrated as Armistice Day. This date was celebrated in the United States and was made an official national holiday on May 13, 1938. In 1954, Armistice Day in the United States was officially renamed to Veterans Day and has remained in observance since then.


In celebration of Veterans Day, and to connect it with Freemasonry, I decided to talk about the history of a specific building in this state which has a connection to the military and Freemasonry, the Tun Tavern. The Tun Tavern was built in 1686 by Joshua Carpenter at the intersection of King Street and Tun Alley and was named after the Old English word “tun,” or barrel of beer. A restaurant was added to the tavern in the 1740s (Peggy Mullan’s Red Hot Beef Steak Club) and the tavern sadly burned down in 1781.

During its existence the Tavern was tied to many historical groups and people, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Continental Congress. As we learned earlier in the year, the oldest minute books of any North American Lodge come from the Tun Tavern Lodge No. 3 and are dated June 24, 1731. St. John’s Lodge No. 1 also had their first meetings in the Tavern.

On November 10, 1775, the first recruitment drive was held at Tun Tavern to raise two battalions of Marines, as directed by the Second Continental Congress. This commission was given to Samuel Nicholas who appointed Robert Mullan, the current owner of the Tun Tavern, to be the “chief Marine Recruiter.” According to several publications the recruiting event was a success as many men flocked to the tavern to join the new battalions of Marines, and these men were deployed aboard Continental Congress Navy vessels as sharpshooters.

To me, one of the most amazing parts of our lodge is the diversity we have among our brothers; men from all different walks of life and professions. I’m proud to sit with men who have served our country and communities and hope that all brothers will find time to come out and recognize them at our November Stated Meeting.