Believe it or not, there are two places in New York City where you can find physical remnants of the first President of the United States. George Washington’s teeth are prized artifacts at Fraunces Tavern and the Academy of Medicine in Manhattan.
One of George Washington’s teeth is on display at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan. While the first floor of the historic building is a restaurant, the second floor is a museum full of Revolutionary War relics. Those relics include not only one of Washington’s teeth but also a lock of his hair and a piece of his coffin! The tooth is actually a piece of ivory that was filed down into the shape of a tooth.
At the New York Academy of Medicine on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, you’ll find the last real tooth removed from Washington’s mouth and the lower set of his last pair of dentures. You can see in the photograph below a hole in the denture set where Washington’s one remaining tooth would stick through. This final tooth was eventually removed by his dentist Dr. Greenwood in 1794.
Contrary to legend, Washington didn’t have wooden teeth. His dentures, of which he had many pairs throughout his life, were actually made from some of his own teeth, ivory, and other human teeth – likely from slaves at Mount Vernon. At some point, Dr. Greenwood gained possession of the tooth he pulled from Washington’s mouth and dentures he made for the president. He had the tooth put inside a charm that he then attached to his pocket watch.
An inscription on the charm reads, “In New York, 1790, Greenwood made President George Washington a whole set of teeth, the enclosed tooth is the last tooth that grew in his head.” The dentures are also engraved with the message “This was Great Washington’s teeth by J. Greenwood.” In the 1930s, another dentist and fellow of the Academy of Medicine convinced Greenwod’s heirs, who now had possession of the items, to gift them to the institution.
Besides dental artifacts, there are many places in New York City to find traces of George Washington. The Bible used at his inauguration – which actually belongs to the Freemasons – is on display at Federal Hall, his desk is in City Hall, and the New York Public Library has his recipe for beer. Uncover more presidential haunts of George Washington in NYC here!