Upper Caroline Neighborhood History

Researched by Jan Waltonen & Roger Engels, HFFI Marker Committee

Written by Jan Waltonen

Article compiled for the 2019 Candlelight Tour. Properties on the tour included the Rising Sun Tavern, 1308, 1309, 1310, 1513, and 1517 Caroline Street.

This year’s Candlelight Tour (CLT) explores a neighborhood whose history began more than a hundred years before the American Revolution. Before about 1779, “Land Patent” documents conveyed land in the royal colony of Virginia from the colonial governor in Williamsburg—in the name of the King of England—to individuals who could pay their passage to America. This “headright” system rewarded persons with 50 acres of land if they sailed to Virginia to “inhabitate.” However, if new immigrants could not afford to travel to Virginia, others could finance the cost of transporting them, receiving 50 acres for each person they imported. Designed to attract colonists to Virginia to work for its benefit and provide revenues for the Crown, the system successfully encouraged settlement and increased the colony’s population. Both Fredericksburg and the area encompassing this year’s Candlelight Tour owe their beginnings to the Land Patent system.

In 1662, a large Land Patent of 812 acres was granted to Captain Thomas Hawkins, a close friend of the earliest Washingtons, who paid to transport 17 persons to Virginia. Seventy years later, Hawkins family descendants sold their Patent in two equal parts. The 406 acres that Francis Thornton of King George County purchased extended north from Lewis Street—the original boundary of Fredericksburg—to present-day Hunter Street, embracing all the properties on this year’s CLT.

Seven years later, in 1742, Colonel John Lewis (1694–1754) bought the Thornton “half tract” for £500. Lewis’s purchase, adjoining the upper end of town, supported his new and ambitious business enterprise. As a prominent merchant, he was shipping goods to the West Indies, London, and other trans-Atlantic ports. Within 1 year of acquiring the Thornton tract, Lewis had built and was operating a store, warehouses, and a shipyard, all located at the site of the present-day Fredericksburg Library. To oversee the mercantile extension of his shipping business, he enlisted his second son, Fielding, and in 1749, built the Lewis Store on the west side of Caroline Street just outside the town line. (Today, the Lewis Store, one of the oldest surviving urban retail stores in the United States, is headquarters for HFFI.) As the store’s manager, Fielding Lewis sold items such as rum, buttons, gloves, sugar, coffee, “brest” buckles, and “soop” spoons. His customers included George Washington, who, in a letter to his mother, requested she buy cloth, hose, and thread for him from “Mr. Lewis’s store.”

Although all this year’s CLT properties lay outside the corporate limits of Fredericksburg in Spotsylvania County before 1759, several factors fueled Fredericksburg’s growth and expansion to include new land. Founded in 1728 as a shipping port, Fredericksburg became an important center of trade. Ships brought European goods for sale in local stores, and tobacco, the basis of Virginia’s economy, was exported to England and Europe, solidifying Fredericksburg’s prominence as a center of commerce. Owing to its standing as a major port and seat of justice, the fledgling town grew rapidly. In 1759, to accommodate the burgeoning population of merchants and tradesmen, court justices, tavern keepers, and enslaved and free blacks, the Virginia General Assembly expanded the town limits to include present-day Dixon, Winchester, and Canal streets—bringing all of this year’s CLT properties within town limits.

A beneficiary of Fredericksburg’s prosperity was merchant Fielding Lewis (1725–1781). By 1754, the year his father died, Fielding had amassed an estate of 1,300 acres, including the Thornton tract he had inherited. It was said he owned “half the town” in the days before the War for Independence. In 1775, on the eve of the Revolution, he and his second wife, Betty, George Washington’s sister, moved into their newly constructed Georgian mansion (now called Kenmore). Lewis, a patriot of the American Revolution, established a weapons factory in Fredericksburg. By May 1777, the Gun Manufactory was producing about 20 muskets weekly. Lewis spent £7,000 of his own money, which was never repaid, leaving the family to struggle financially after the war.

When Lewis died in 1781, his son John inherited not only his father’s lands in Fredericksburg but also his substantial debts. To pay them down, John sold three town lots in 1785 to Henry Fitzhugh of Bell Air, Stafford County. Lot 178, site of two of this year’s CLT homes, marked the northernmost boundary of Fredericksburg and was considered a “suburb” of the town. (The term “suburb” was commonly used then as now to refer to an outlying part of a town or city.) In the early nineteenth century, a number of planned suburbs were laid out on the fringes of Fredericksburg and named after the land speculators who developed and financed them. Henry Fitzhugh, member of one of the “first families of Virginia,” was among those investors. He divided his new acquisitions into residential lots, naming the area “Fitzhughtown” after himself. Two houses on this year’s Candlelight Tour, 1513 and 1517 Caroline Street, are on Fitzhughtown lots. By 1787, Fitzhugh was renting his land to “sundry free Negroes and whites.”

The 1300 block of Caroline Street was also under development during the late eighteenth century. In 1761, Warner Lewis, Fielding’s older brother, sold George Washington’s younger brother, Charles, the lots where Charles would build his private residence in 1762. Thirty years later, the building was sold outside the Washington family and converted to a tavern. Today, Washington Heritage Museums operates the Rising Sun Tavern as a living history museum to showcase Fredericksburg’s colonial history.

Upper Caroline continued to develop as a diverse neighborhood in the 1800s. The United States Censuses are organized in order of households visited. The 1860 Census reveals that individuals working as shoemakers, “washwomen,” plasterers, weavers, and stone masons lived side by side with more affluent residents: a carriage maker, barrel maker, “loom boss in a factory,” and a dry goods merchant.

The impact of the Civil War on the upper Caroline neighborhood was devastating. On December 11, 1862, Union engineers attempted to build three pontoon bridges. The northernmost crossing site terminated at Hawke Street, just one block south of this year’s CLT properties. Ordered to delay the Union troops, General William Barksdale’s Mississippi riflemen, positioned along Sophia Street, fired on the bridge builders, preventing them from completing the northern pontoon bridge. Union commanders responded by ordering a massive artillery bombardment. The shelling of Fredericksburg destroyed about 100 structures—10% of the city. Two beams in the Rising Sun Tavern’s roof were cut through by artillery fire.

Despite the fire of 150 cannons, the Mississippi sharpshooters, entrenched in cellars and doorways, could not be dislodged. Union infantry finally crossed the river and ultimately cleared away the snipers, although they fiercely contested every block. Among the streets most closely associated with the street fighting were the streets on this year’s CLT—Fauquier, Hawke, Pitt, and Canal. The cost was great. In gardens and backyards, graves of the dead were scattered across the city.

The area comprising this year’s CLT was also hard hit with indiscriminate destruction and looting the day before the Battle of Fredericksburg. Argalus E. Samuel, a carriage maker owned the lot on which 1513 Caroline now stands. He was just one of several residents who filed “A Memorandum of Losses in the Shelling & Since” with the Common Council of the town, which passed the following resolution on January 10, 1863: “Resolved that the funds now being raised by the voluntary contributions of the Army for the relief of the citizens of Fredericksburg who have suffered so severely by the bombardment & sacking by the abolition Army shall be received and disbursed. . .” Receipts collected totaled a remarkable $32,292.60. Samuel’s inventory of losses included “provisions on hand and groceries stolen” worth $96.60—much more than the value he placed on any of his furniture or even his “working tooles” [sic].

The war continued to be a harrowing experience for A.E. Samuel. Following the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, about 60 Union soldiers—many slightly wounded—made their way to Fredericksburg, seeking to return to Union lines. Placed under citizens’ arrest, they were sent to Richmond as prisoners of war. In retaliation, federal authorities arrested a corresponding number of local citizens to be held as hostages until the Union soldiers were released and returned. Samuel was one of 57 men sent to the military prison at Fort Delaware. After 3 weeks, Fredericksburg’s mayor and Common Council sent an appeal to the Confederate Secretary of War in Richmond: “Surely the matter of a few [federal] prisoners cannot be allowed to interfere with the humane and generous work of restoring to those desolated homes and those mourning women and children, the only source of comfort in this war-ravaged and desolated town. . .” Samuel was subsequently exchanged in July, only to find that his sister had died during his imprisonment.

After the war, Fredericksburg’s residents were left to rebuild in a shattered economy. It took nearly a generation for the town to begin to prosper again. The houses on this year’s CLT—built between 1870 and 1911—echo that slow recovery. They illustrate not only Fredericksburg’s eventual renewal but also the contrasts that came to define Upper Caroline’s character. 1513 Caroline, constructed shortly after the war in 1870, was built for James Ryan, an Irish immigrant and stone mason. Assessed at only $350.00 at the time, it represents the many post-war working class residences of this diverse neighborhood. In contrast, in 1911, the Victorians at 1308 and 1310 Caroline were built by G.B. Wallace, a prominent Fredericksburg citizen who served as the Commonwealth’s Attorney for 20 years. These three CLT properties symbolize the wide diversity of architectural styles and residents’ socio-economic levels, offering a vivid glimpse into a rich history. Welcome to Upper Caroline!

Good-bye Summer (thanks for 200 years of hard work!)

By Danae Peckler, Architectural Historian / HFFI Board Member

Damaged summer beam prior to replacement.

If you have visited the Lewis Store at any point in the past couple of years, you might have caught a glimpse of it. Exposed, sagging, and broken. The building’s old summer beam, that is. Defined by preservation professionals in An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape (Lounsberry 1994), a summer is “a large bearing beam running the length or breadth of a building that provides support for the floor. Summer beams are support by either ground sills or girders and have the ends of common joists set into them at regularly spaced intervals.” Back in 1807, this beam was installed at the Lewis Store to support the addition of the second story to the building.

HFFI began rehabilitating the Lewis Store at the turn of the twenty-first century after it had sat vacant for a time with holes in the roof. Great lengths were taken to preserve what professionals refer to as the historic fabric of the building at all stages of the rehabilitation. This work ranged from simple (sistering damaged framing members to preserve them in place) to fairly complex (enclosing a new truss system within the floor at the second story to allow for office space upstairs), adhering to the Secretary of the Interior’s (SOI) Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties [https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation.htm] at all times and gaining approval from staff at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) [https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/].

In recent years, cracks in the plaster ceiling of the first floor drew attention to the aging summer beam above. Following the removal of portions of the circa-2000 ceiling along the beam’s path and thoughtful inspections from no fewer than a dozen different professionals with experience in historic preservation, structural engineering, timber-framing, and general contracting, HFFI crafted a plan to replace the beam using in-kind materials as noted in SOI Standard 6:

New summer beam being installed inside the Lewis Store.

Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.

To make a long story short, HFFI hired licensed timber-framer Allen Anderson and his team to carefully remove a deteriorated portion of the 1807 summer beam that had been left in place during the store’s rehabilitation despite no longer carrying the load of the second floor. The section removed has been saved, while a new beam of the same dimensions and wood species–carefully selected, felled, and cut by Mr. Anderson–was put back in the same place as the original. The Lewis Store’s new summer beam is open for viewing as it dries in place for now—stop by and check it out, if you’re interested. We’ll be plastering the ceiling again soon! 


Lounsberry, Carl (editor). 1994. An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Historic Bricks and Mortar 

by Natalie Chavez and Danae Peckler; edited by Linda Billard

The Lewis Store, HFFI’s headquarters, is the embodiment of honest brick construction in a classic Georgian architectural style from the mid-eighteenth century. This mass masonry brick building has multiple wythes, or vertical sections of brick wall, laid in two different bonds. The Lewis Store’s elevation showcases the stylish Flemish bond, while the interior wall of the building showcases the stronger English bond. Most of the building’s brick dates from its original construction in 1749 and added second story in 1808, although some minor repairs were made to damaged areas during its rehabilitation in 1999 and 2006. Contributing to the Lewis Store’s durability is the craftsmanship and skills of its builders and the make-up of its mortar. 

Figure 1: Brick Bonds from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 3, 1911.[1]

All mortars are composed of three main ingredients: a binder or cementing material, an aggregate such as sand, and water. Prior to the late nineteenth century, lime was used as the binding agent. It was created by crushing stone or oyster shells and burning the resulting material to create quick lime that was later mixed with water and sand. Traditional lime mortars are remarkably forgiving of both the weathering of time and the environment, allowing for “some movement in the brickwork without showing signs of cracking under normal seasonal conditions.”[2] This differs greatly from the rigidity of Portland cement, which became commonplace by the early-20th century. Owners of historic brick buildings make a crucial mistake by repairing mortar joints using a Portland-based mortar. While Portland cement has many benefits, its use in historic masonry creates long-term problems, even inducing decay of the bricks themselves. 

Figure 2: Image from Colonial Williamsburg Showing Oyster Shells After Burning.[3]

Experts in the field of preservation advocate for using the gentlest techniques in the maintenance of historic brick. Such work is only needed every 100–150 years and, in most cases, a sensitive repointing with lime mortar will last another 100 years unless the repair is addressing the symptom of a larger problem that has gone unaddressed.

You can find more information about taking care of historic brick buildings on HFFI’s website and review Cristine Lynch’s 2012 National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Lewis Store to learn more about our great building!

Other great resources

Traditional brick construction: https://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/traditional-brickwork/traditional-brickwork.htm

Efflorescence https://johnspeweik.com/2011/11/17/efflorescence-of-masonry/

How to identify lime mortar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh0Ad3FKDrE

Importance of lime mortar: https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/blog/podcast-episode-33-andy-degruchy-on-the-historic-uses-of-lime-mortar-and-its-continuing-importance-today/ Finding the right mason for the job: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TmW8ZvsBUs

[1] The Project Gutenberg EBook of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition,Volume 4, Part 3. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19699/19699-h/19699-h

[2] Geoff Maybank, “Traditional Brickwork.” https://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/traditional-brickwork/traditional-brickwork.htm

[3] Image from Colonial Williamsburg’s Richard Charlton’s Coffeehouse blog: https://research.history.org/Coffeehouse/Blog/index.cfm/2009/3/4/Lime-Burn

Ducking Stools in Fredericksburg

Ducking Stools in Fredericksburg

By: Michael Spencer


Ducking stools, “an instrument of punishment for nags, gossips, witches, and difficult individuals”, often consisted of a “…chair suspended from a sweeplike pole” that would be lowered into water.[1] While used throughout Europe during the medieval period, it was also used here in Virginia until the 19th century.

Legislation passed in 1662 by the Virginia Assembly stated that “Whereas, many babbling women slander and scandalize their neighbors, for which their poor husbands are often involved in chargeable and vexatious suit, and case in great damage: Be it, therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, that in actions of slander, occasioned by the wife, after judgement passed for the damages, the woman shall be punished by Ducking…”[2]

Mrs. Vivan Minor Fleming recounts, from an old resident, such a ducking in her book “Historic Period of Fredericksburg 1608-1861”,

“She saw Peggy, a noted termagant, as tied in a gig that had been improvised into a ducking stool, she was pushed along through the streets polluting the air with her foul oaths and surrounded by a clamorous crowd of men and boys. Dr. Edward Carmichael and Mr. William White, then small chaps, being not the lead vociferous. She was pushed along to the old baptizing place and into the river-the water over her head. Then they drew her out, but she was more vituperative than ever. Again they pushed her in and she came out sputtering anathemas, but the third submersion silenced her. She returned through the same streets, in the same gig, as quiet as a lamb.”[3]

Fredericksburg seems to have adopted ducking as a form of punishment fairly early and continued it for some time. The first reference to ducking in Fredericksburg was made in 1746 when Marquis Calmes, of Winchester, Virginia was paid £5:5 for erecting a “ducking stool according to the model of that of Fredericksburg.” The reference goes on to allude to the general configuration of the stool when describing the punishment of a prisoner, “…the culprit was tied to the end of a long plank working on a pivot”.[4]

A second mention of a ducking stool occurs in Fredericksburg Council minutes from 1795 with “Zachariah Lucas & James Brown” tasked with finding “some person” to build the device, obviously a replacement from the earlier one.[5] It appears that by 1799 they were successful with Joshua Ingham being paid £10:9 “for making a ducking stool.”[6] A third, and possibly final ducking stool, was made for Fredericksburg in 1822 by John Ferneyhough at a cost of $30.[7]

The location of the ducking stool, was at the “old baptism place” which both court records as well as Silvanus Quinn, in his 1908 “History of the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia”, note as being at the end of Wolfe Street adjacent to Thornton’s Tavern. This would have made sense as this was also the location of one of Fredericksburg’s early ferries and so would have had a water depth adequate to facilitate the ducking.






Figure 1: Image from Pioneer Pittsburgh, a 1937 publication showing a representation of a ducking stool. The actual configuration of the one at Fredericksburg may have been similar.











Virginia Herald, June 28, 1799 Reference to Ducking Stool.



[1] Lounsbury, Carl. An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape, pg. 124

[2] Norris, J.E., History of Lower Shenandoah Valley Counties.

[3] Fleming, Historic Period of Fredericksburg 1608-1861, pg. 25-26

[4] Morton, Frederic. The Story of Winchester.

[5] Fredericksburg City Council Minutes 1795, [transcribed by Gary Stanton]

[6] Virginia Herald, June 28, 1799, pg. 3 col. 3

[7] Fredericksburg City Council Minutes 1822, [transcribed by Gary Stanton]



1210 Sophia Street


1210 Sophia Street – Can it be Saved?

By HFFI Staff

(Updated 5/1/2017)

1210 Sophia Street is in danger of being demolished. If the clock runs out—it will be gone. But there is a chance to relocate this 100+ year old property to a new location. YOU can help save it!


1210 Sophia Street

1210 Sophia Street – Photo Credit: Fredericksburg City Staff

Located within Fredericksburg’s Downtown Historic District, 1210 Sophia Street is a contributing resource. This modest building, situated along the Rappahannock River, is an example of housing used by Fredericksburg’s working class residents at the turn of the twentieth century. It is in good condition and structurally sound, but the only option besides demolition is relocation.


The City of Fredericksburg has offered up to $20,000 to aid in the costs of moving the house to an open lot within the city, but no matter of its location it will remain under the purview of the city’s Architectural Review Board and the city’s historic district overlay. But there is a deadline, so don’t delay! Help us get the word out, and this 1890’s house may once again be called a home.


Built in 1894, this two-story house was built for Gilbert C. Walker, an iron worker, and it remained in the Walker family for almost 100 years. The rear addition was added in 1953, (identified through an independent archive of city records), and Sanborn Maps as well as census records round out the history of the house and its residents. (Special thanks to Kate Schwartz, Historic Resource Planner—City of Fredericksburg, for her efforts in researching the history of this home. – Read more about the history of this home here.)


1210 Sophia Street Interior

1210 Sophia Street Interior – Photo Credit: Fredericksburg City Staff

Do you own a lot that this building could be moved to? Or perhaps you know someone who does? This is a chance for us to save a historic building from demolition, and HFFI is happy to see the city contributing funds from the Blight Abatement Fund to assist in the project.


Learn more and read the city’s Memorandum to the Architectural Review Board about 1210 Sophia Street (including additional history and applicable Historic District Design Standards & Guidelines).


Also online, read The Free Lance-Star article about the city’s decision to remove the building.


For UMW student, and HFFI intern, Kiernan Ziletti’s perspective on the situation, read his article featured in the March issue of Front Porch Magazine.


Questions or ideas on how to save this historic building?  Contact us at [email protected] or 540-371-4504, or Kate Schwartz at [email protected] or 540-372-1179.


UPDATE: An open lot near downtown has been located, further details to be worked out. Are you interested in taking on this project? Contact HFFI at 540-371-4504 to learn more.


UPDATE – 5/1/2017:

The official RFP for the sale of this building has been released and can be seen on the Fredericksburg website at http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/bids.aspx?bidID=82

Closing date/ time – 9/21/2017 2:00 PM

Pre-bid Meeting – May 4, 2017, 10AM at site

Contact Person – Lynn Enders
[email protected]




Wet or Dry: A History of Prohibition in Fredericksburg


Wet or Dry: A History of Prohibition in Fredericksburg

By Barbra Anderson

“The saloon is the devil’s headquarters on earth,” declared the Anti-Saloon League in the late 1800s. Alcohol was blamed for every social problem: poverty, domestic violence, crime, ill health, and moral turpitude. The average American man drank 88 bottles of whiskey a year—three times as much as now.

Temperance groups swept the nation. Each member had to take a pledge against “any Spirituous or Malt beverage.” Fredericksburg had three chapters of the Sons of Temperance, which held rallies and parades, weekly meetings, and “grand excursions” to inspire the citizens. Not only did temperance influence the social scene, the “liquor platform” soon dictated state politics.

wet-or-dryProhibition came early to Virginia. In 1886, the General Assembly passed the “local option,” which let each county vote to ban alcohol or not. In May 1908, the people of Fredericksburg voted in a referendum to “go dry,” with 53 percent of the vote. Two years later, the “wets” petitioned for another vote, which was signed by 180 citizens, including the town’s biggest saloon owners. The Daily Star proclaimed that “the city is unquestionably better off than ever in its history,” and that “business had in no way been injured by elimination of the saloon.” The 1910 referendum reaffirmed the dry vote by an even bigger margin. However, enforcement of the law proved problematic. In 1911, Fredericksburg convened a special Grand Jury to investigate allegations of Prohibition violations. The jury of prominent citizens trumpeted, perhaps too heartily, that “there is no evidence whatever, much less proof, that there is any violation of the revenue laws.” The panel was, however, very concerned about the crowds that congregated at several corners around town, many located near former saloons.

All of Virginia went dry in 1916, and the 18th Amendment enacted national Prohibition in 1920.

By the mid-1920s, Prohibition violations in Fredericksburg became commonplace. Because Route 1 was the only paved road in the area, bootleggers used it to transport “ardent spirits.” Local reporter Warren Farmer described how local police would hide next to the bridges and catch them as they came into town. One rumrunner crashed going around Deadman’s Curve near the National Cemetery. The liquor caught on fire, and he was incinerated beyond recognition.

Because bootleggers often used aliases, the ensuing court cases frequently named the car as the defendant. In 1926, “Virginia vs. Packard Touring Car” involved the transport of 210 gallons of corn whiskey. The penalties were stiff. In another case, two brothers-in-law were convicted for transporting 48 quarts of liquor in their car. Each was fined $50 and given a sentence of 6 months. Moreover, as dictated by law, their car was confiscated and sold.

vine-gloBecause bootlegged liquor was hard to get, some Fredericksburgers tried alternatives:

  • “Vine-Glo” was a concentrated grape juice product. Instructions said to dissolve it in water, but warned “Do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for 20 days, because then it would turn to wine.”
  • Doctors could prescribe medicinal liquor for 27 ailments—including cancer, diabetes, and depression—up to one pint every 10 days. Each doctor could write up to 100 liquor prescriptions per month.
  • Some tried to make their own liquor, although it could blind, sicken, or even kill a person if not properly processed. Makers of “bathtub gin” converted denatured alcohol to a drinkable form, but the process is prone to both chemical and bacterial mishaps.

According to court and police records, many people were arrested for alcohol offenses. A sampling from the newspapers of the day reveals some colorful characters. “Poodles” Limerick was charged for transporting liquor at the Virginia Cafe. Albert Grimes was fined $20 for being drunk and carrying a concealed weapon (iron knuckles) at the Athens Hotel. Yat Sullivan was convicted of manufacturing and selling liquor. He was fined $250 (about 2 month’s salary) and sentenced to 3 months in jail. “Dinksy” Scott was arrested three times for “unlawfully and feloniously selling ardent spirits.”

old-prenticeDedicated drinkers had to know where to look to find liquor in Fredericksburg. Like drug dealers today, certain men on certain corners could be relied on to get a bottle. At a nearby country store, people asking for a “pair of size eight shoes” would receive a discreetly wrapped package. Others went straight to the top, such as the reporter who claimed that the best whiskey he drank was served by a local judge.

goolricksAlthough the term “speakeasy” is not used in court records, there were several establishments in town whose patrons were arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. The Virginia Cafe, the Athens Hotel, and the A-1 Cafe, all located on Caroline Street, were well known for their rowdy customers. The owner of the Fredericksburg Cafe was charged with allowing drinking and gambling and running a “disorderly house,” perhaps the legal term for speakeasy.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but selling liquor in Virginia did not become legal until 1934 when the state established the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). In the first month, the ABC granted Fredericksburg 14 licenses to sell beer and wine. The ABC maintained strict control of alcohol throughout the remainder of the century, gradually easing some restrictions. For example, it was not for another 35 years that liquor was sold by the drink. Cocktails were illegal unless you belonged to a “social club” where you would bring your own liquor. On February 9, 1969, the first mixed drink in Fredericksburg—a Tom Collins- was sold at the Princess Anne Inn.


To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Prohibition in Virginia, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation hosted a Prohibition Pub Tour on Saturday, September 10, 2016.


Much thanks to Nancy Moore and Sue Stone for providing most of the research for this story.



Fredericksburg Court Records. Grand Jury, May 1911
Burns, Ken and Lynn Novick, Prohibition (film documentary), 2011
Fredericksburg Police blotters, 1920s
Eaton, Lorraine. Virginian Pilot. “Virginia’s Prohibition History.” Nov 30, 2008
The Free Lance, March 5, 1925
Moore, Nancy. Interview, September, 2016.
Farmer, Warren. Oral History. HFFI, 1998.
Free Lance Star, August 15, 1977
Free Lance Star, May 2, 1934
Free Lance, March 5, 1925
Daily Star, March 10, 1925
Gambino, Megan, Smithsonian Magazine. “During Prohibition, Your Doctor Could Write You a Prescription for Booze.” October 7, 2013.
Clark, Patrick Michael, Rappahannock Magazine. “Drink the Dominion Dry: Prohibition Comes to Virginia”. October, 2015, Volume 2, Issue 1.
Kamieniak, Ted, Fredericksburg: The Eclectic Histories for the Curious Reader. “The Pledge of Brotherhood”.