Clio Logo

Built during the first half of the 18th century, Widow Haviland’s Tavern (also known as Square House) served as an inn and tavern before the Mead family purchased it in the 19th century. While serving as an inn, the location hosted many famous figures in history. Since 1964 the tavern has been used as a museum to educate the public about local history by the Rye Historical Society.


  • Widow Haviland's Tavern Exterior
  • Tavern Exterior
  • Old Photograph of Tavern (1906)
  • Tavern Interior
  • Tavern Interior
  • Tavern Interior

Evidence suggests that the Widow Haviland’s Tavern was built during the first half of the 18th century. The property is located at the corner where the road to Harrison’s Purchase met the Boston Post Road. Prior to the construction of the tavern, the property was occupied from “1680-1690 by Yeoman Jacob Pierce. Valued at 15 pounds in 1690 a dwelling and the lot of three acres was conveyed by Pierce’s widow to Peter Brown in 1695. . . . After Brown’s death in 1738, the property passed to blacksmith Gideon Burnell, merchant Raphael Jacobs (1742), Rev. James Wetmore (1752), and his son Timothy (1760), and an innkeeper Jotham Wright (1762).”1 

Once inherited Timothy Wetmore the Square House he decided “that it would make a good wayside inn for the stagecoach passengers, post riders and other travelers on the busy highway.”2 Following this decision, the house was in use as an inn for the next 70 years, being operated and managed by different owners. 

The house itself is two-and-a-half-stories in height. “The gambrel-roofed structure is composed of a wood frame, resting upon a fieldstone foundation, and sheathed by shingles on the east (front), north, and part of the west elevations. The remaining exterior walls are covered with clapboards.”3 There is also a one-story veranda which is featured as part of the house. It is also believed the house was built in at least two stages over time. The earlier portion of the house is believed to have been built around a large central chimney stack. The later portion is believed to have been built with two interior chimneys to “accommodate the clientele.”4 Today the exterior remains essentially unchanged from its original appearance. The interior is currently displayed to resemble the old inn during the 18th and 19th centuries. 

The name Widow Haviland’s Tavern comes from the owners of the inn between 1770-1775. “Dr. Ebenezer Haviland and his wife Tamar operated the inn. . . . and after his death during the revolution, ‘Widow Haviland’ reopened and enlarged it.”5 The Haviland’s were prominent members of the community at the time of their ownership of the inn, with Ebenezer eventually serving as a physician in the Continental Army before his death. “Among its famous guests were John and Samuel Adams in 1774, George Washington in 1789, and the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. In his travel journal, Washington paid a compliment to ‘Mrs. Haviland in Rye, who keeps a very neat & decent inn.’”6 .

Once the inn closed in 1830, it was purchased by the Mead family. Over the years, the house began deteriorating, and it was rumored that it was to be demolished, but the house was bought by the Parsons brothers to assure its preservation. In 1903 the new owners “gave the Square House to the newly formed village of Rye as a municipal hall. . . and then the city until 1964.”7 Following 1964, the house has been used by the Rye Historical Society as a museum for the public to learn about their local colonial history. The location was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

  1. Weaver, Lynn Beebe. Widow Haviland's Tavern. National Register of Historic Places. Published November 1st 1973.
  2. Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County . Elmsford , NY. Westchester County Historical Society , 2003.
  3. Weaver, Lynn Beebe. Widow Haviland's Tavern. National Register of Historic Places. Published November 1st 1973.
  4. Weaver, Lynn Beebe. Widow Haviland's Tavern. National Register of Historic Places. Published November 1st 1973.
  5. Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County . Elmsford , NY. Westchester County Historical Society , 2003.
  6. Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County . Elmsford , NY. Westchester County Historical Society , 2003.
  7. Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County . Elmsford , NY. Westchester County Historical Society , 2003.
Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widow_Haviland%27s_Tavern

https://www.empireexplorer.com/listing/square-house/

https://www.ryehistory.org/square-house-info

https://www.ryehistory.org/square-house-info

https://www.ryehistory.org/square-house-info

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48536-d11924315-Reviews-Square_House_Museum-Rye_New_York.html