The simple log structure that is Madden’s Tavern in Culpeper County 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 Madden’s Tavern property was still owned by Madden’s descendants through the end of the 20th century.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark