For over 200 years The Deer’s Head Inn has had a prominent place in the life of our town, Elizabethtown, NY. Uniquely positioned between New York’s highest peaks in the Eastern Adirondacks and the majestic shores of the Champlain Valley, E’town has always been a recreational hub. And as the county seat of Essex County it has always had a prominent place in the political life of our community.
Since 1808, the Deer’s Head Inn has been the town’s preeminent eatery, located just across our main thoroughfare from the county buildings. As such it has been a gathering spot for civic leaders, local and seasonal residents, vacationers and travelers. We are dedicated to continuing this tradition by bringing together the disparate elements of our community with a welcoming, inclusive setting and with cultural events and offerings that highlight our burgeoning local foods movement.
We’re building upon a rich history. The Inn first opened in 1808 during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, served as a hospital for troops injured in the War of 1812 and as an illicit liquor cache during Prohibition. John Brown’s widow Mary stayed at the Inn when her husband’s casket lay across the street at the County couthouse, and the Deer’s Head guest books features entries by U.S. presidents Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland.
But in reconceptualizing the place we’ve thought as much about the foodways of early America as we have about the celebrity ghosts in our halls. In 1808, if you were traveling in rural New York, you would have eaten in a tavern like setting with a prominent bar and a loud, informal atmosphere. You’d have ambled upstairs to a clean modest room to sleep off your meal, and you’d have had an adjoining market to resupply the next leg of your journey. Of course the food would have been local (and organic…) - both electric refrigeration and chemical pesticides were yet to be imagined.
Today’s Deer’s Head remembers this history, and looks to celebrate our exciting present with thoughtfully curated food and drink and a kind of small-town conviviality that welcomes all comers. From all of us in the Deer’s Head family, we look forward to your visit!