Background:

Historic Buckland Tavern, in Virginia, to be Auctioned Sept 20th

I just got word that the historic Buckland Tavern, in Gainesville, Virginia, will be sold at auction on September 20th.  The old tavern, built around 1824, has been described as “a particularly handsome landmark on Lee Highway.” It is stately and yet charming in its simplicity, standing sentinel at the gateway to the historic district. But it’s also very historic. It’s been called significant because it’s a “visible symbol of the commercial prosperity that accompanied the construction of the Alexandria-Warrenton Turnpike in the early 1820s.” It hosted some famous visitors over the years, too!  In other words, it’s got curb appeal and it’s important. So it’s fair to say that Buckland Tavern is one of the keystone properties of historic Buckland, and it will certainly be a nice buy for a historic house lover.

If you’ve never heard of Buckland, Virginia, you’re probably not alone. It’s sort of a hidden gem that’s sitting in plain sight. Every day, many folks probably pass by it on Route 29 without realizing its there. But it’s a special place. The above “birds-eye view” (courtesy of Bing Maps) shows part of Buckland village. It’s a cluster of historic buildings straddling Route 29, along Broad Run, on the western edge of Prince William County, northwest of Lake Manassas. From the above photo, you can see how people might easily zoom past the sleepy historic area today in their car without even realizing it.

But if you were a traveler during the early 1800s, it would have been an entirely different story. In fact, you probably would have stopped at Buckland — maybe at the tavern.  Buckland was once a well-known and important turnpike and stagecoach town. Chartered in 1798 by the General Assembly, the village at that time already contained “upwards of twenty good houses occupied by tradesmen and merchants,” including shopkeepers, a wheelwright, a cooper, two taverns, an apothecary, a boot/shoe manufacturer, a saddle maker, a church, and a wollen factory. By 1830, the travel writer Anne Royall, who was at times a harsh critic, actually praised Buckland as “a romantic, lively, business-doing village, situated on a rapid, rolling stream…several manufactories are propelled by this stream which adds much to the scenery. Buckland owns the largest distillery I have seen in my travels. The buildings, vats and vessels are quite a show. There is also flour manufactory here on a very extensive scale — the stream is a fund of wealth to the citizens…encompassed with rising grounds and rocks, the roaring of the water-falls, and the town stretching up to the tops of the hills, was truly picturesque.” In 1825, the Buckland Tavern, itself, received a famous visitor. The celebrity General Marquis de Lafayette (left), on his famous tour through the United States, “was met by little girls who scattered flowers in his path, and being invited to the tavern, was honored by several ladies who read poems” they had written in his honor.  Not everyone can say General Lafayette hung out at their house.

Another Buckland claim to fame? It’s where the Confederate cavalry enjoyed its last southern victory of the U.S. Civil War, against Union Generals Judson Kilpatrick and George Armstrong Custer. Yes….that General Custer. In fact, some refer to Buckland as the site of “Custer’s First Stand” — and his most serious defeat before the famous Battle of Little Bighorn. On October 19, 1863, Confederate generals J.E.B. Stuart, Fitzhugh Lee, and Wade Hampton all converged on the Union here, and many men were killed near the Buckland mill dam. The Union retreated as fast as they could down the Warrenton Turnpike, leading General Stuart to later poke fun by calling it “The Buckland Races.” Significantly, he declared that “the rout of the enemy at Buckland [was] the most single and complete that any cavalry has suffered during the war.”  The battle, which occurred a few months after Gettysburg, was rendered by Civil War artist Alfred Wauld (below), providing us with a fairly accurate image of Buckland village in 1863.

So, you could say that the Buckland Tavern has witnessed some history!

Buckland Tavern is a beautifully restored stone and frame house built in the early 1800s. Records and architectural evidence point to 1824 as the likely year it was built, but it is not known for certain. What is for certain is that it has been nicely restored, with sympathetic additions in the rear.

The ground floor consists of the historic tavern and kitchen, along with a storage room.

The main level of the home features a large living room with hardwood floors and stone fireplace, a beautiful dining room with wood wainscoting, wood floors and a stone fireplace with antique wood mantle.

The home has an expansive kitchen with exposed beam ceiling, wood floors and a copper sink.

A mud/laundry room and half bath complete the main level. The upper level has 4 large bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. All of the rooms have hardwood floors and the master bedroom has a stone fireplace.

The property is located in the Buckland Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in the Virginia Landmarks Register. It is also listed on the Prince William County Historical Commission registry and is subject to an Historic Preservation Easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The property sits on a 16,048 sf lot and has a well and septic system. The property was renovated in the 1970s and the rear clapboard portion of the house was added during that period.

I should also mention the (very cool) historic log building at the rear of the property. It’s also historic, having been moved from Bull Run Mountain and reconstructed on the property by a previous owner.

For more information on the property and the upcoming auction, I’d recommend taking a look at the auction company’s website here.  Much of the historical info for this article came from an excellent architectural history report about Buckland, and that document is available here.  For more information about Buckland’s history and preservation, more generally, check out the Buckland Preservation Society’s website.  Happy bidding!

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