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The widespread closure of public eateries in response to the coronavirus makes u…

The widespread closure of public eateries in response to the coronavirus makes us think of the challenges the restaurant industry is facing now. And that reminds us of the Preservation Society’s own long-ago experience as restaurateurs.
Did you know that Newport’s White Horse Tavern, the oldest tavern in the country, once was owned by the Preservation Society? In 1953, the 8-year-old organization acquired the property with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Archbold van Beuren, saving it from demolition and meticulously restoring the 1673 building. The hope was that income from the restaurant would pay for its upkeep and operations. But that’s not what happened.
One difficulty was obtaining a liquor license, which required an act by the state legislature; the bill didn’t pass until 1969. Still, the White Horse Tavern never quite hit its stride. Finally, in 1982 the Board of the Preservation Society decided to cut its losses and sell the property with a conservation easement. Of course, now it is a successful, privately owned upscale restaurant and a National Historic Landmark.



Source: Preservation Society of Newport County

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