The Peacock Inn dates back to the 1700s when it was built on the corner of Main Street (now Nassau Street) and Railroad Avenue (now University Place). Jonathan Deare, a member of the Continental Congress, purchased the property from Thomas Stockton in 1779. According to Hageman’s Princeton, he offered members of the Continental Congress two rooms with fireplaces, two beds with bedding, breakfast and tea for two, and dinner for four.
The Peacock Inn was moved to its present location on Bayard Lane in 1875 when it was purchased by the Princeton Hotel Company. Mr. Libbey, President of the Princeton Hotel Company, was a very prominent Princeton figure. Not only was he a Princeton graduate and professor, but he was also the person who established orange and black as the University colors and was one of the first individuals to own a telephone in the area.
The Peacock Inn was opened in 1911 by Joseph and Helen O’Connor, who purchased the property and named it after an inn in Midland England, using the peacock as a symbol of royalty, good food and good luck. The Inn has been in operation ever since. It often served as a local hangout for Princeton University students. According to Mrs. Evatt, who then purchased the Inn in 1954, the entire Princeton football team came to the Inn one day and happened to be standing outside on the porch. Due to the weight of the team, the porch collapsed, taking the football team down with it. A quick-thinking photographer snapped a shot of the incident and later that year the photograph won a prize and was featured in Sports Illustrated Magazine. It is believed that the basement area of The Peacock Inn was used as a Prohibition-era speakeasy.
In more recent days since the Inn’s reopening, it has played host to professors and political dignitaries visiting Princeton University as well as a diplomat and a Broadway producer.