Baird Tavern returns to its original purpose

Warwick Historical Society signs a 20-year lease with the owners of Fetch Bar and Grill

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  • Photo by Roger Gavan Tavern co-owner Adam Powers and Historical Society Executive Director Lisa Weisbrod discuss the operation of the new Baird Tavern at its replica of an old time “Cage Bar.”

  • Photo courtesy of the Warwick Historical Society In 1766, Francis Baird built a limestone residence, tavern and inn to house travelers on the King's Highway. More than 200 years later, Elizabeth Van Lear sold a valuable painting by Eugene Delacroix to purchase the building when it was on the verge of demolition and then donated it to the Warwick Historical Society in 1991.

By Roger Gavan

— On Tuesday evening, Oct. 10, the historic Baird Tavern at 103 Main St. in the Village of Warwick reopened to the public as guess what, a tavern.

The owner of the building, the Warwick Historical Society, had recently signed a 20-year lease with John Barounis and Adam Powers, owners of Fetch Bar and Grill, also on Main Street, to operate three rooms in the ground floor as a Colonial-style tavern.

Tavern patrons can now relax and enjoy liquid refreshments and light fare at a full bar, a replica of an old time "Cage Bar," offering 10 beers on tap along with wines and spirits and traditional grog.

Seating is also available in two other rooms, including a game room, depicting that Colonial period.

The Historical Society will continue to use the basement and upper floor for storing and displaying some of its collections or conducting tours and other events.

Something had to be doneThe idea to lease a part of Baird Tavern was originally suggested to Powers by Executive Director Lisa Weisbrod as a means to help cover the expense of maintaining the society's 12 properties and numerous programs, funded solely by membership dues, private donations and fund raisers.

And the suggestion wasn't unprecedented since the society also received some revenue from weddings held at its Old School Baptist MeetingHouse in Lewis Park.

Weisbrod also pointed out that many local historical societies no longer exist because their expenses far exceeded their income. Something had to be done.

"Some were for this idea and others were on the fence," said Powers, "but I met with Michael Bertolini (past president and building curator) and explained our renovation plan and how we would benefit the Society.

"In Fetch, for example, we contribute to the Humane Society," Powers added. "Here, our direction will be to help the Historical Society. "

$100 Baird Tavern membershipPowers praised Warwick architect Joe Irace who not only designed the remodeling but also shepherded the project through every step of the entire village approval process.

Although the Baird Tavern is open to the public, patrons can subscribe for $100 to a Baird Tavern membership that will include an authentic engraved pewter mug and other privileges such as discounts for drinks and admission to events.

In addition to the rent, a portion of that fee will also go to the society and entitle tavern members to many of the discounts and benefits of full membership to which they are invited to upgrade.

The tavern is open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to closing.

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