J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

A New Green Dragon Tavern Planned in California

Charles Bahne alerted the Boston 1775 editorial team to this news item from Carlsbad, California, filed by Deanne Goodman:

A colonial-themed museum and restaurant based on The Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, MA is being built where Hadley Fruit Orchards sat closed for 10 years on Paseo Del Norte.

The real Green Dragon Tavern in Boston was established in 1654 and said to be a planning site for the Boston Tea Party. It still operates as a pub and restaurant in Boston.

Carlsbad City Council approved the project in 2009. The project is now in the demolition stages. Jason Goff with the City of Carlsbad Planning Division said, “we are encouraged by the redevelopment of this site especially given the economic market.”

According to public city records, Carlsbad’s Green Dragon Tavern & Museum Colonial Village has plans to hire local history teachers to teach students about pilgrims and the Revolutionary War, in addition to being a restaurant and bookstore.
There are, of course, 150 years of history separating “pilgrims and the Revolutionary War.” And contrary to the writer’s understanding, today’s Green Dragon Tavern has no connection to the eighteenth-century Freemasons’ lodge whose name it borrowed.

However, the sketch of the project indicates the architects will base their building on how the original Green Dragon Tavern looked in 1773, according to Revolutionary War artillerist and portrait painter John Johnson. Plus, some additional buildings.


G. Lovely said...

Doing a little digging, it appears Bruce R. Bartlett, founder of Bartlett Nuclear (not to be confused with the former Forbes writer and conservative blogger of the same name)is the driving force behind this.

A big contributor to his alama mater, Bridgewater State,he reportedly splits his time between Rancho Santa Fe, CA and Dubury, MA. He's on the board of the N.E. Historical and Genealogical Society, and appears to support main-stream conservative candidates.

Unknown said...

I live in Los Angeles and will definitely stop by here for a brew once it opens!

MaryJeanAdams said...

Does it seem ironic to anyone else that they would recreate The Green Dragon in a state like California? I mean, Sam Adams was probably one of the most anti-big government founders we had, and California is decidely into big government.

Nat Sheidley said...

Well, thank goodness for small favors. At least they didn't base their design on the current, faux Green Dragon Tavern.

Byron DeLear said...

This looks interesting, and reminds me of the Boston Tea Party museum, which I haven't visited. I have been to the modern Green Dragon Tavern -- it strikes me they could probably play up the Tea Party angle as a tourist attraction -- does anyone know if that particular location was the original location? Or was it just named in honor of the original Tavern?

Further, have you seen any articles specifically dealing with Ben Franklin's reaction to the Tea Party (he was residing in London at the time) including his offer to pay back or raise funds to compensate the East India Company for their damges?

J. L. Bell said...

The present Green Dragon Tavern restaurant is a considerable distance from the location of the one in the 1700s. Of the restaurants in Boston, I believe only one is in a pre-Revolutionary building: the Union Oyster House. But that was mostly a dry-goods store in the 1700s.

J. L. Bell said...

It doesn't surprise me to see a replica Green Dragon Tavern in California anymore than in any other part of the history-hungry West. The state's politics are quite broad.

Furthermore, I don't think Samuel Adams qualifies as a small-government man. He preferred local or state government over distant, strong national authority, but he was happy to have that nearby government play a big part in people's lives. No theater, no travel on Sundays, taxes to support his church.

J. L. Bell said...

About Benjamin Franklin, when the news of the Boston Tea Party arrived in London, he was already fighting for his political life as a respected lobbyist to Parliament (and losing). Depending on one's perspective, he had either leaked stolen private letters or blown the whistle on royal officials trying to abridge colonial self-government. This online exhibit from the Library of Congress shows more. So anything Franklin said about the Tea Party in 1774 has to be read against the backdrop of that personal crisis.

Charles Bahne said...

The modern Green Dragon tavern took its name in honor of the original one, and because it is near the site of the original. The sign that hangs in front of the modern one has a picture of the original. I think it would be nicer if it had a big, oxidized copper dragon hanging out front, as the original did. But that's my opinion.

The site of the original Green Dragon, in a modern context is especially difficult to pin down. The streets in the area have been rearranged at least twice since the mid 1800s -- once in 1872, again in the 1960s. And the original tavern didn't really face a street; it was on a private alley off of Union Street, northwest of the intersection of Union and Hanover.

In my research, however, I did find some old insurance atlases that identified a "Green Dragon Building" owned by the Lodge of St. Andrews as late as 1928! And the footprint of that building matches the location of the tavern on earlier maps. So I believe I have pretty firm evidence that the original tavern was located almost exactly where the Orange Line entrance to Haymarket station is located now, on Congress Street (or New Congress Street), north of Union Street, in the first floor of the parking garage that was erected during the Big Dig.

In fact, the 1928 maps of the era show a subway entrance built into the Green Dragon Building!

Nearby -- across the street from the current Green Dragon -- is the Bell in Hand Tavern, which claims to be Boston's oldest tavern still in operation. The original Bell in Hand was on State Street, I think, and I forget if it's from the 1700s or the first decade of the 1800s. The building it's in now was built ca. 1844. I don't know when the tavern moved to its current location.

A couple of decades ago there was also a "Boston Stone Tavern" but it has changed its name to "The Point". (Although I was in it a few years ago and the register receipt still read "Boston Stone"; I think it's still part of the corporate name.) That takes its name from a tavern that may have been on the same location in the 1730s. But the building had some other uses in between. It's in the same building as the Bell in Hand, thus erected ca. 1844.

There's a nightclub -- recently closed, I think -- on Washington Street in the Theatre District, known as "Felt". I believe that there's a case to be made for a direct link to that from the Lamb Tavern of the 1740s -- but with the name and management changing over the years, from the Lamb to the Adams House to the New Adams House to the new New Adams House to maybe something else before it became Felt.

And of course the Union Oyster House is in a building from ca. 1715, but the Oyster House has only been there since 1826.

MaryJeanAdams said...

J.L. good comment re Sam Adams. I don't know too much about his pre-revolutionary stance on the power of state government, but I do know that after the revolution he was pretty gung ho on regulating morals. I wonder, though, how much of that was because of his animosity toward Hancock who he seemed to think stood for everything decadent (and imperial.)

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the geographical rundown, Charlie!

J. L. Bell said...

Samuel Adams and John Hancock seem to have been mostly on the same side in Boston's post-Revolutionary public debates over morals. And, although they had split during the Revolution over how hard to push the Congress, Adams was Hancock's lieutenant governor and successor at the end of the younger man's life.

Adams's debates over theater, the "San Souci Club," and other moral issues seem to have been with a younger generation of Bostonians rather than contemporaries.

My take on Hancock is that he had a great instinct for Massachusetts's political middle ground and a big aversion to spending any of the political capital he'd built up. I don't see him as a voice for cosmopolitanism or "decadence" or loosening traditional morals; I think he was for whatever the bulk of the populace wanted.

Daud said...

There is one other colonial era building which now houses a restaurant, that we must mention: The Chipotle on School street, a.k.a. the Old Corner Burrito Store.

J. L. Bell said...

Quite right! I must have a mental block on that one since I walked right past it on Thursday.

Charles Bahne said...

The shocking (to me, at least) thing about Ye Olde Corner Burrito Store is that about 50 years ago there was a huge preservation outcry because that building was occupied by a pizza shop. So a nonprofit organization was created to buy and restore the building; for years it was operated by the family-owned Boston Globe for various literary (or literary-related) purposes. With the Globe now owned by an out-of-state corporation, the nonprofit organization had difficulty finding a new tenant. So now the former pizza palace is a burrito place. Culinary tastes change, and so do theories of historic preservation, I guess.

Anonymous said...

As the Secretary of the Lodge of St Andrew,the former owners of the Green Dragon Tavern, I can assure you that we regard our removal to California as a travesty and expect to fall into the Pacific Ocean at some point. Of course, the current GDT is of no connection to the original.
J V Taylor

J. L. Bell said...

Maybe this new installation would warrant annual lodge trips to southern California!

Softball Dad said...

Well, I live down the street from the new Green Dragon Inn and it looks like it will be opening later this month. It has a website (http://www.greendragontavernca.com) that does not much info on it yet. However, there is an article in our local Carlsbad magazine (http://clickoncarlsbad.com/images/Stories/green_dragon/Green_Dragon.pdf).

The place appears to be a labor of love for Mr. Bartlett. It will be interesting to see how financially successful will be. I don't know if he is the sole investor but someone has put a lot of money into it. It's a beautiful building but does not really fit in with the surrounding area. I started to notice it during late night runs to the Taco Bell next door. It piqued my interest as to who might be willing to invest in such whimsical venture.

We don't have many historical buildings around here. Leisure activities tend to be centered around the local beaches and surfing. If you come out here, be sure to check out the local historic Leo Carillo ranch. I think it dates all the way back to the 1930s. LOL

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks very much for the on-scene report.

SoCalDoc said...

Drove by it this morning, looks like it will be open very soon.

here are some more details from local news.

Carlsbad is set to have a new attraction–unlike anything San Diego has ever offered. The Green Dragon Tavern & Museum is slated to open in late October or November and will provide both a Colonial Museum, period tavern and a restaurant that serves traditional American cuisine–including New England staples such as Maine lobster and seafood stews.

The old Hadleys Nut and Fruit Farm was a tired piece of Carlsbad real estate along I-5 at Palomar Airport Road that has been transformed into a place our Founding Fathers might Green Dragon Interior 300x225 Green Dragon Tavern & Museum in Carlsbad Set to Opensalute. In fact, it was modeled after an historic Boston tavern where the Boston Tea Party was planned. The ceilings are high, the wood burnished with cherry stain and the impressive two-story stone fireplace. I couldn’t resist stopping by this morning, taking a few shots and talking with the crew hard at work. They allowed me in, but could only confirm that this new Carlsbad venue will be opening as previously stated.

The free-admission museum will contain Colonial-era letters and documents, courtesy of the collection owned by Bruce Bartlett of Rancho Santa Fe. Bartlett was also the visionary behind the Green Dragon project and wants to share this slice of history with local children and others who may not have the opportunity to travel to East Coast museums. He also hopes to encourage a rotation of fresh museum material with other historical groups on the East Coast.

This historic and highly-visible three-acre site will house a 100-seat tavern serving craft beers, a 115-seat restaurant, a 225-seat convention area, a 1000 square-foot museum, Colonial shop and plenty of parking for both cars and buses.

The Green Dragon Tavern and Museum will be another great addition to Carlsbad’s tourism industry. Visitors already love the beaches, Legoland, the Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad Company Stores, the Flower Fields, the Gemological Institute of America and the Museum of Making Music. And of course, there’s the world famous La Costa Resort and Spa with the widely followed Chopra Center.

I hope to be there at opening–and can’t help but wonder: Will the Green Tavern Restaurant offer spoon bread?

J. L. Bell said...

You know, I'm already planning a trip to San Diego this summer...

Anonymous said...

The Opening Day has been set for Feb 12th Lincoln's Birthday!