New Kent County, Virginia
The Old Tavern at New Kent Courthouse
Photo courtesy of Pam Huffman
When the Courthouse was built in 1691 at the site of the present courthouse, the Tavern was a necessity. Later, the Courthouse at Hanover (1735) was built several years after the Old Tavern was built at that place.
The exact date of
its erection is not known, but it was built about the time the
Courthouse was built, which seems to have been prior to 1700.
This building was built of brick and the bricks were laid in the usual English Bond of the period in which the construction took place.
The type of building was that so frequently seen in the old houses in Virginia, a story and half with an English basement at almost ground level, which afforded rooms for cooking and eating and storage.
The upper floor above the basement was separated by a hallway, with two rooms on each side, and the rooms under the roof were lighted by dormer windows, which were reserved for guests.
Many years ago, the roof was raised and the dormer windows discarded, which remodeling produced a monstrosity. Mr. and Mrs. Martin restored the roof and dormer windows and it now retains its original symmetry and colonial style. This restoration has been done with meticulous detail, and the owners are to be commended for their good judgement in doing a marvelous job.
The cluster of
buildings which stood at New Kent Courthouse suffered a
disastrous fire in 1862. The Tavern escaped, although it was used
by the Federal Army under General McClelland as a Communications
Headquarters while the Army was based at Cumberland on the
Pamunkey, and later at the White house.