Carter's Tavern

By Barbara Bagwell, published in the Gazette-Virginian, South Boston, Virginia, April 27, 1998.

Carter' Tavern photo. Click for full sized version.
   Carter's Tavern was fast falling down when Mr. and Mrs. Robert Edmunds of Greensboro, formerly of Halifax, bought it and in 1972 began the challenging job of rebuilding it.

   The story and a half section of the building was built by Joseph Dodson, who died in 1773, leaving the plantation to his wife and eventually his son Joseph Jr., who applied for a license to keep an ordinary in his home in 1802 and 1804. He sold it with 67 acres of land to Samuel Carter in 1807. Either he or Joseph Dodson enlarged the house by adding on the two-and-a-half-storie, east section, and Samuel Carter applied for a license to operate an overnight stage stop and "a house of private entertainment" here. The licenses and renewals dates from 1824 to the death of his wife after 1843, when the tavern ceased to be.

   It then went through a series of owners and at the last a period when it was unlived in and became almost to the point of being unsalvageable, but do to the foresight of the Edmunds, it now stands as a magnificent restoration, which the Historic American Building Survey in 1958 ranked as second to "Berry Hill" in this county.

   Legend has it that George Washington did stop here for refreshments on his way to spend the night with General George Carrington of Halifax Old Town. That seems logical, since its location was directly on the old stage route from New York to New Orleans, which largely ceased to function when the train replaced the stagecoach around 1850.

   The three story tavern consists of a large hall, a tap room, a "Publick" room, and an innkeepers room on the first floor, "a common room for dining", the innkeeper's bedroom, a few small private rooms and a sleeping loft on the second floor, and on the third floor a ball room.

   The Edmunds converted two of the small rooms into bathrooms and in the tap room have added an efficiency kitchen. They have also installed heat and air conditioners, but this modernization has been kept as inconspicuous as possible.

   The tavern very much resembles those in Williamsburg. With its large rooms with their original hand carved mantels and woodwork painted in imitation marbling or reproduction of other woods, it is now considered one of the most handsome old taverns in the state.

   Mr. and Mrs. Edmunds visited Williamsburg and began amassing an impressive display of antiques to furnish authentically the rooms in the building, and they are now second to none.

    Many stories are connected with the tavern -- the murder in a bedroom, the ghost at the door, the blood stain on the floor, the mid-nineteenth century communication between stage and tavern. The Carters had to have some way of knowing how many guests they would have coming. A system was worked out whereby the driver of the approaching stage, as he passed Brooklyn to the west or Melrose Academy to the east, rang his bell once for each passenger he had wanting a meal. When they arrived at the tavern the food was ready. Local people often had music and dancing there on Saturday night.

   Halifax County owes a great debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Edmunds for restoring this former segment of the community to its original state and for enabling to see it for the tour.

   Note: Most of the material in this article was excerpted from an article by Eleanor Dare Kennedy that originally appeared in the Greensboro News and an article by Jean Hart in the 11/30/72 issue of the Record Advertiser on "Face Lifting at Carter's Tavern".



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This page was last updated on October 4, 1998.