The Real Deal New York

Beloved downtown bar in rare Federalist building turns 200

The Ear Inn opened in 1817
March 05, 2017 12:00PM

Few bars or restaurants last a decade, and almost none for a century. But the Ear Inn, at 326 Spring Street near the Holland Tunnel, is celebrating its 200th year in business.

The 1812 building is one of only a few remaining examples of Federalist-style architecture left in the city, and the wood in the property goes back to the 1780s, owner Martin Sheridan told Grubstreet.

The Ear Inn in different eras (via the Ear Inn)

The property was first used as the home and shop of James Brown, a tobacconist who sold his wares in the property starting in 1817. However, the property soon after became a bar and a bar it has stayed ever since — though under various names. The bar got its current name under Sheridan’s tenure. He took over the bar in 1977 and added the BAR light to the front of the building. However, half of the “B” is blacked out, making it “Ear.”

There are a few other bars in the city of course that are older — or claim to be. Fraunces Tavern opened in the 18th-century, but it’s interior was completely rebuilt. McSorley’s opened in 1847 but claims to be the oldest continually operating bar. [Grubstreet]Christopher Cameron