Enjoy the toe-tapping rhythms of live music, the warmth from a pot belly stove, the romance of candlelight, and the taste of West African cooking -- knowing that feeling good will be doing good for Historic Richmond Town’s unique Guyon Tavern.
Musicians, artisans and historians are donating their time, skills and passion to St. Patrick’s inspired Guyon Tavern Fundraiser March 16 at 8:00 p.m. to raise money for repairs to the cozy, circa 1819 concert hall. Tickets are $75, and supporters will be treated to a unique dining experience, uplifting music and the sensation of being suspended in time – seated at tables in authentic, 19th-century surroundings.
The Irish and American music and merriment in the magical setting of the Tavern features the talents of Bob Conroy, Norm and Jean Pederson, and Jason Wickersty leading the group in traditional Irish sessions. If you don't experience their vocal harmonies with banjo, guitar, fiddle, octave mandolin, bodhrán, Irish flute and pennywhistle, you haven't celebrated St. Patrick's Day!
The dinner is planned and prepared by Cheyney McKnight, a living historian and material culture researcher studying African-American foodways, whose extensive study and work recreates the daily lives of African-American women, enslaved and free, living in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cooking in the artisanal kitchen facilities of Historic Richmond Town’s Guyon-Lake-Tyson farmhouse (circa 1740) McKnight presents a traditional one-pot Jollof rice recipe served family style with traditional recipe corn bread. HRT's Carlotta DeFillo takes her turn in the jambless hearth using a reflector oven to bake Mrs. Lake's Cakes, a favorite dessert amongst villagers and guests. Jollof rice is one of the most common one-pot dishes in Western Africa.
“Richmond Town is real history,” said musician Norm Pederson. “We need to support it, because when its gone, its gone.”
The multi-talented Pederson is the resident artisan of the pre-Civil War era Carpentry Shop on the grounds of Historic Richmond Town, where he only uses tools and woodworking methods that existed before 1860 to create replicas of colonial era objects.
One of Pederson’s many handcrafted creations – a document box – will be among the raffle prizes at the Guyon Tavern Fundraiser. Inspired by a 17th-century example that survives from the early colonial era, the box is a foot and a half long and is made of pine with a shellac finish and decorated with a carved lunette design of European origin. The box is typical of its time because it is completely absent of metal. The scarcity of metal (iron hinges, nails and screws) in the early years of settlement forced carpenters to turn to alternative means, such as dowel hinges, and rabbeted joints fastened with wooden pegs. Also to be raffled is an original chandelier, crafted by Historic Richmond Town’s resident tinsmith artisan Annie Wickertsty and her teenage tinsmith apprentices.
The Guyon Tavern fundraiser is a special Friday night dinner show during the popular season of Saturday night Tavern Concerts – sold out shows that bring out music-lovers of many backgrounds, from college students to old-timers to listen to acoustic acts while sipping beer, wine and cider from tavern mugs, mingling and reveling in the authentic ambience of the historic building.
“The Guyon Tavern is home to lifetimes of great memories of beloved performances, and desperately needs new siding, new windows, and critical maintenance improvements,” noted Ken Bach, interim executive director at Historic Richmond Town. “By partnering with City Council Member Joe Borelli and community stakeholders, together we will kick-off a revitalization of the Tavern this spring and the opening of a new and unique outdoor experience this summer!”
The mission of the Historical Society and Historic Richmond Town is to create opportunities for the public to explore the diversity of the American experience, especially that of Staten Island and its neighboring communities, from the colonial period to the present.