The building was erected in 1789 as a large house and tavern. In 1795, John Cooke purchased the house and land from Luther Shepard for 36 pounds. Though records are imprecise, it is assumed John Cooke was the proprietor of the tavern before purchasing it outright. Upon opening Cooke’s Tavern he wrote in his diary that he wanted to "purvey food for man and beast (horses!)." As time went on business flourished and Cooke’s Tavern became a well known stagecoach stop for travelers along the College Highway. It was also the center of social life in central Connecticut.
The tavern was passed down through generations of the Cooke family. George Cooke, John’s son, eventually took over and lived in the building for 93 years! During the Great War the tavern served meals to the workers at the nearby ball bearing factories. George Cooke died in 1923 and passed the tavern to his niece, Mrs. Nancy Kirkham. In 1934 a great-great-grandson of John Cooke turned the tavern into a full service restaurant. Although it was closed briefly in the 1950s due to a small Thanksgiving-eve fire, it has been a restaurant ever since. Descendants of original owner John Cooke operated Cooke’s Tavern from its beginning until the current owners purchased the building in 1979.
J. Timothy’s is proud to carry on the tavern tradition begun in this building over 225 years ago.
George Cooke outside the tavern.