Virginia State Seal

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

023-0029 Madden's Tavern

Madden's Tavern
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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 05/15/1984

NRHP Listing Date 08/16/1984

NPS property number 84003526

This simple log structure is a rare relic of pre-Civil War black entrepreneurship in rural Virginia. Completed about 1840, the tavern was built by, owned, and operated by Willis Madden (1800-1879) a free African American, and was likely the only tavern in the region with a proprietor of Madden’s race. Virginia free blacks were able to earn and keep wages and to own and operate a business, but were forbidden to vote, bear arms, testify against a white person, or be educated. Madden built the tavern on property purchased in 1835 on the Old Fredericksburg Road. The western half of the structure was Madden’s family quarters, the eastern portion consisted of a public room and a loft for overnight guests. A general store and blacksmith-wheelwright shop were also on the property. Union troops sacked the place in 1863-64. The property is still owned by Madden’s descendants.


Abbreviations:
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated February 15, 2019