Located right in the heart of Georgetown on M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, I’d walked by City Tavern Club thousands of times in my life, but never once noticed it or given its presence more than a passing thought. That all changed one chilly night in November, when Heather, Laura, Stephanie, Sarah Lloyd, and I were invited to CTC for an opportunity to tour their beautiful historic building and meet some of their awesome members.
I loved my evening touring City Tavern Club so much that I wanted to give y’all a (long overdue) inside look at this hidden gem in Georgetown in case you find yourself considering membership or in need of an awesome event space for an engagement party, wedding, corporate event, or the like.
For those of you unfamiliar with CTC like I was before November, it’s a private social club that offers delicious food, super fun events, and a gathering space for its members that’s steeped in history. Originally constructed in 1796, the City Tavern was both an inn and a tavern, and quickly became a hub of civic life in our young democracy. Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams visited City Tavern. Over the years, it changed hands several times and eventually fell into disrepair. In 1959, it was slated to be razed to become a parking lot, but many of the great dames of Georgetown rallied together to save the building, finding it to be a stunning example of Federal-period architecture. It was restored and reopened in 1962 as City Tavern Club, and continues to be a hub of social and civic life here in DC.
The night we were invited to CTC, their President, Membership Chair, and Historian—three fabulous ladies!—were on-hand to answer all of our questions about the building, its membership, and its history, which added so much color to our tour. We explored the club progressive-style—on each stop of the tour, we were offered a different food and drink pairing, which made this one of my favorite history lessons to date.
We started our tour of City Tavern Club in their Reception Room with a champagne toast, and then moved on to The Great Hall. A fabulous formal dining room now, it used to be the horse and buggy stable. My favorite part of this room was the silver-washed wallpaper, a style popularized by Jackie Kennedy. It was hand-painted in China and then installed piece by piece—you can even see some footprints on it from the artists. This room would be the perfect space for a wedding, engagement party, or corporate event—the ambiance is unbeatable.
Our tour continued upstairs in the Bliss Room, which has an adjoining private terrace. I didn’t snap any pictures of this room because I was too busy enjoying a beautiful cheese and charcuterie spread City Tavern Club had placed out for us to pair with some fabulous red wines. The Bliss Room is also where Ronald Reagan had his inaugural luncheon.
We then continued up to the third floor to my favorite room, The Library! Thomas Jefferson spent time here on his visits to Georgetown, and I can see why—all the amazing books. In this room, we were treated to a whiskey tasting and then explored the adjacent Governor’s Room, which is a large private dining room. The hardwoods in the Governor’s Room are original and date to 1796—they are stunning and it almost felt sacrilegious to walk on them. One of the huge perks of membership at CTC is having access to all this history!
We finished our tour in The Long Room—a beautiful, (you guessed it) long room overlooking M Street. In 1800, President Adams was honored at a banquet in the Long Room and 19 toasts were given, one of them by Adams. The Long Room was also the conclusion of our food and drink pairings, and CTC did it up right. We were treated to amazing crab cakes in this room. If you ever get the chance to try any of their food—but especially the crab cakes!—jump at the chance. This is not your mom’s country club food!
Though our event was catered, club members have access to The Tap Room, which is the members-only restaurant. Located below street level, it has several small windows facing M Street where you can see the feet of pedestrians on the sidewalk as they rush by—it was so cool to be “in” on this secret, since I bet very few people outside knew they were walking right by one of the oldest taverns in the city. The Tap Room is the site of one of the original tavern rooms, but it wasn’t always below street level—at some point over the last 200 years, Georgetown raised the height of their sidewalks, which is how it ended up underground.
I am lucky that blogging has brought me so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and am especially grateful whenever those opportunities introduce me to awesome places and people in my own city. City Tavern Club was so gracious to open their doors to me for a night, and several times since—and I would 100% become a member in a heartbeat if I found myself in Georgetown more often. (The Dupont-to-McLean commute grind is real!)
That being said, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about CTC or put you in touch with their membership chair—just shoot me a note via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, in the interest of full disclosure, City Tavern Club is not paying me to write this post nor was I obligated to post after the November open house they hosted for our blog squad—I just truly wanted to share because I had such a fun night at a gorgeous/historic/welcoming place I didn’t even know existed! So, if you’re new to the area, looking to meet new people and find community, or simply want a “third place” to hang out at, definitely check out City Tavern Club.