From its 18th century tavern to the annual tomato pageant, this county connects its previous with the current.

FOR YEARS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN going to Hanover Tavern to get pleasure from a meal, see a play, or rejoice a marriage. But not all patrons know precisely what number of years the tavern has been doing enterprise.

The unique Hanover Tavern was first licensed in 1733 and stood throughout the road from the present constructing, on the courthouse grounds, says David Deal, govt director of Hanover Tavern Foundation. In its time, that body construction served as the whole lot from an inn to a dance corridor, internet hosting friends comparable to George Washington and Patrick Henry in the course of the time of the Revolutionary War.

“People think this tavern has all the history from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, but the oldest part of the current tavern was built as a home to the tavern owner in 1791,” Deal explains. The unique tavern fell into disrepair, and it wasn’t till 1820 {that a} new construction was added to the home, creating the present tavern. “The two buildings were tied together around 1830. That’s one piece of history I would like to get out there, because the misconception keeps getting perpetuated,” Deal says.

Prominent friends—everybody from showman P. T. Barnum to Edgar Allen Poe—frequented the present tavern after it was constructed, due to its location alongside the stage route between Baltimore and Richmond. “This building was here during the Civil War. The tavern owner was an ardent unionist, quite the anomaly in Virginia and Hanover County,” Deal says.

The tavern is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places as a contributing construction to the Hanover Court- home Historic District. Its historical past and that of the world are showcased within the tavern’s history-based discipline journeys for fourth graders. Visiting college kids meet seven characters from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Those visits have been on maintain for the reason that begin of the pandemic, and the muse is engaged on a video in lieu of discipline journeys. “In the eight years of the program, we have hosted more than 13,500 fourth graders,” Deal says.

One of the characters college kids study is Martha Ann Fields, a tavern cook dinner and slave. “She speaks about life at the tavern and her desire to read and write, as well as her eventual escape to freedom with her family after a Union raid during the Civil War,” Deal says. Local actress Valerie Davis portrays Martha Ann. “She is so good. She has developed Martha Ann into a one-person play, From Tragedy to Triumph, the Martha Ann Fields Story,” Deal says.

Despite its title, Hanover Tavern has been put to many makes use of over time. In 1953, it was acquired by a bunch of actors, who established the Barksdale Theatre, a long-running staple of the neighborhood. The Hanover Tavern Foundation bought the construction in 1990 and spent the subsequent 15 years restoring it. The tavern reopened to the general public in 2005 with exhibit house; a restaurant, the Hanover Tavern Restaurant and Pub; a 156-seat venue the place the Virginia Repertory Theatre performs; and a present store. It provides instructional applications, excursions, musical performances, and particular occasions all year long, together with its sig- nature occasion, the Hanover AutumnFest. In 2015 the Foundation opened the E.J. Wade Coach House at Hanover Tavern, a separate constructing used for instructional functions, conferences, weddings, receptions, and events. Approximately 40,000 individuals go to the tavern every year.

“Now that the Tavern has been restored, we are turning our attention to increasing public awareness of this great historic site as an educational and cultural resource for the Central Virginia community,” says Deal.

The tavern is a part of Hanover County’s 300-year heritage, a milestone it hit final yr. The county had deliberate quite a few occasions to acknowledge the tricentennial all through 2020, with a grand end result within the fall, however all the festivities needed to be canceled when the governor prevented massive gatherings of individuals.

“I consider 2021 as the jumping-off point for a celebration of Hanover County as it is today and looking forward into the future as well as remembering our past,” says county administrator John A. Budesky.

One piece of historical past most residents don’t know entails the combat for non secular freedom “and how the Rev. Samuel Davies started Historic Polegreen Church, one of America’s first non-Anglican churches,” says Tom Harris, Hanover’s public data officer. Members of Davies’ congregation included Patrick Henry. The church was destroyed when it was hit by a Confederate artillery shell in the course of the 1864 overland marketing campaign. It was reimagined by the Historic Polegreen Church Foundation and is now an open-air church.

Residents and guests to the county will quickly be capable of study extra about Hanover on the new Hanover Museum of History and Culture, scheduled to open later this yr. The museum is situated within the clerk’s workplace on the Historic Court- home grounds and “is designed to illuminate the lives and experiences of Hanover’s residents,” says govt director Jaime Fawcett.

The museum is designed with neighborhood service in thoughts and never a few explicit time-frame, she provides. “It comes at a unique time when our world is upside down and change can’t keep up. The stories and experiences we explore will help us build strong community partnerships, and this process has already started.” Fawcett works with residents and neighborhood companions to inform the total story of Hanover County, exploring the narratives which might be vital to those that stay within the county “and how they impact our community, or state, and our nation. Our storylines come directly from the Hanover Community,” she says.

The first of the museum’s 4 rooms will function a welcome middle to assist drive tourism. The three remaining rooms will function gallery areas for exhibitions like Roots, Seeds, & Soil, which explores Hanover’s agricultural roots and the way they impression lives as we speak. For the second exhibit house, the museum will be a part of with Ashland Museum to co-host the Smithsonian’s touring exhibition collection Museums on Main Street, that includes Changes in Rural America.

The third house will function an exhibit on the voices behind public security, together with narratives from Hanover’s animal management, sheriff’s workplace, emergency communications, and hearth/EMS employees. Looking to the autumn, Fawcett is working with the corporate Hidden in Plain Site on a digital actuality exhibit about Martha Ann Fields and the way the alternatives she made in 1863 nonetheless impression Hanover as we speak. “Working with Hidden in Plain Site is an exciting opportunity to bring the latest virtual technology—so necessary for us today—to traditional museum storytelling,” she says.

Fawcett is pleased with Hanover County for being so forward-thinking and courageous “to create a museum like this from scratch,” she says. “Hanover’s 300th birthday occurred at the height of the pandemic and was naturally a challenge to celebrate. However, the opportunity is to now build a nontraditional museum with a future-for- ward focus. As a community, Hanover is on a path to something new and exciting for the museum and the tourism industry.”

This article initially appeared within the June 2021 situation.

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