Boyd Tavern
*National Register of Historic Places
449 Washington St. Boydton, Virginia 23917
(434) 738-9300

Wed - Fri, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; or call for appointment
(hours subject to change)

Fees: Yes
The Boyd Tavern is one of few structures, if not the only structure, surviving within the town limits of Boydton that actually predates the town, which was established in 1812. In 1765, the newly formed Mecklenburg County granted Richard Swepson, Sr. a license to operate an ordinary. Swepson's ordinary is the earliest record of what would become the Boyd Tavern of Boydton.

The tavern structure has changed in appearance numerous times since 1786, when Mecklenburg County granted Richard Swepson, Jr. a license to operate an ordinary. His ordinary was likely created from his father's. The two southern-most rooms and center hall of the central block of the current tavern likely date to 1786. Eight years later, Richard Swepson, Jr. sold the Tavern to his brother-in-law, Alexander Boyd, Sr.

Alexander Boyd, Sr., and his son, Alexander Boyd, Jr., expanded and renovated the tavern building several times. After Alexander Boyd, Jr. fell on hard times, he sold the business to William Townes in 1824.

By 1858, the Boyd Tavern was known as the Boydton Hotel. According to an advertisement in an 1858 Virginia newspaper, the Boydton Hotel was capable of "accommodating two hundred and fifty to three hundred persons, and frequently entertains a larger number." The extensive accommodations at the Boydton Hotel provided adequate exposure and space for a Confederate recruiting station where many young men enlisted. The Tavern also provided meals for local companies before troops left for the war. On May 14, 1861, just prior to their riding out to muster in Richmond, the Boydton Calvary dined at the hotel at the invitation of its proprietor, B. D. Cogbill and received a battle flag as a present from the ladies of Boydton. The company kept the flag with them for the duration of the war.

During the war, many Southerners frequented the Boyd Tavern in order to remove themselves from the more war-torn areas of Virginia and North Carolina. While at the Tavern, distraught guests found the healing properties of local mineral springs both calming and restful. In 1863, the owners of the Boydton Hotel sold the complex to Langston Easley Finch. The sale included three slaves in addition to the Hotel grounds and buildings.

After Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Federal General Philip Sheridan led his troops through Boydton. Although their stay was brief, Sheridan's troops likely visited the Boydton Hotel. They were known to have spent a night in the yard of the Chambers home in Boydton. The façade of the Boyd Tavern has changed drastically since the War Between the States. During the war, the main hotel building consisted of the large central block of the current tavern, the small addition off the back, along with one-story wings of one room each. Shortly after the war, well-known architect and builder Jacob Holt drastically changed the appearance of the Tavern. His modifications included raising the two wings to two full stories each, adding the first level of the front porch, redesigning the front door and sidelights, and updating the interior of the building.

After the war, the Boyd Tavern changed hands several times. The many post-war owners added the majority of the current southern wing in addition to modifying architectural details and other elements of the building. At different periods, the building was used as an apartment complex, a hotel, and a tavern. The Boyd Tavern Foundation, a non-profit organization, currently maintains the building. The Foundation invites all passersby to tour the interior of the restored tavern. Contributor: Alexander B. Rawles, Vice President, Boyd Tavern Board of Directors

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