William Reynolds, hatter and dry goods salesman, leased the glebe land adjacent to Franklin Street and Church Circle from St. Anne’s Church in 1747, and constructed the Tavern from which he conducted his hat business, rented rooms and operated an ‘ordinary’ (a tavern) which served hot and cold food and liquor to visitors. ‘The Beaver and Lac’d Hat’ as the Tavern was known, provided a meeting place for farmers, gentlemen, merchants and soldiers. Here one could eat, drink, leave messages, buy theater tickets, conduct business and trade, stable horses and have a game of cards, chess or backgammon. Among others the Corporation of the City of Annapolis and the Mayors court regularly met at the tavern.
After his death in 1777, Reynolds’ third wife Mary maintained the Tavern until her death in 1785. Thereafter Magrette, the daughter of William ran the Tavern. In 1796 she sold the Tavern to John Davidson for 1,020 pounds ($1,500.00). Davidson's widow ran a boarding house there until 1811, when the Tavern and its adjoining land were sold to Farmers National Bank. Farmers Bank added the rear wing in 1906.
In 1935 Standard Oil Company wished to buy the property in order to tear down and replace the Tavern with a filling station. However, a group of far sighted Annapolitans proposed that Trust Fund residuals from the ‘Female Orphan Society’ be used to purchase and convert the structure into the Annapolis Public Library.
In l974, the library system had outgrown the building and its title was transferred to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which in turn leased it to the Historic Annapolis Foundation.
In 1984 the Tavern was leased to Historic Inns of Annapolis run by local entrepreneur, Paul Pearson, who had the vision to restore the Tavern to its former use and importance to the City. Unfortunately the cost of restoration put enormous burdens on the operation of the Tavern and once again in 1992, Farmers National Bank took control of the Tavern. In 2000, Jill and Andrew Petit purchased the building and it now operates as a tavern much like it did some 270 years ago. Reynolds Tavern again is welcomes guests for meals, refreshments and lodging, maintaining the intimacy and comfort that were its hallmark in the 18th century.
The Tavern consists of 4 levels, the Pub in the Cellar (Sly Fox Pub) displays the stone foundations of the building, a walk in fireplace and the existence of the Rumford Broiler all dating back to the 18th Century.
First floor tea rooms are very much as was originally built. The second floor has hotel rooms – 2 prestigious suites and one single bedroom.