Halifax Tavern

A building of historical significance in the town of Halifax that has been vacant for years will be preserved and repurposed.

Halifax Town Council on Tuesday evening gave a Pittsylvania County resident the green light to dismantle and rehabilitate the 710 N. Main Street building known as “Halifax Tavern.” The tavern, also known as “Banister Town Tavern,” was built circa 1815.

Council authorized Halifax town manager Carl Epsy to draft a memorandum of agreement with Christopher Todd Hunley to accept his proposal to dismantle the tavern building, relocate and repurpose it as a private residence on his Pittsylvania County farm. Council made the decision following a closed session discussion of the Halifax Tavern property.

“Todd will coordinate with the Halifax County Historical Society and Preservation Virginia to document everything about the tavern’s materials, dimensions and rehabilitation work to preserve its provenance,” Espy said. “The town will also accomplish removing a blighted property, without having to bulldoze an important historic structure which will instead find a new home within the region.”

The town of Halifax acquired the Halifax Tavern building through tax delinquency, Espy shared. The Halifax County Historical Society recognized its significance, and made attempts over the years to find a preservation buyer. Sonja Ingram, preservation field services manager with Preservation Virginia, recently referred the building to Hunley, who has an interest in federal style vernacular buildings.

Espy relayed that Ingram introduced Hunley to Barbara Bass, president of the Historical Society, on the day he visited the property. He said although the society expressed its preference to find a local preservationist to rehabilitate the tavern in situ or close by in context with Halifax history, all parties involved realized the building’s integrity would not hold up much longer in its current condition and therefore should not be lost.

The Historical Society gives a detailed description of the Halifax Tavern in its publication.

“This pegged heavy frame central hall five-bay house (tavern) was built early 1800s,” the publication states. “It sits on a parged brick foundation with some of the original fieldstone foundation still intact.”

The society’s publication notes architectural features of the two-story building including a Greek Revival mantel surrounding the parlor fireplace, and German beaded siding covering the rear of the building. The publication also notes that portions of the structure likely were added to the original structure at a later date: “the front three bays, porch with hipped roof, and several rooms on the rear of the structure, which may include a closed in original rear porch with fieldstone piers.”

Another feature of the structure according to the society’s publication is a “winder stair in the left rear of the central hall. The stair has picket rectangular (tobacco stick) balusters, a plain railing, narrow steep treads, and square newel posts. At the top of the stair is a distinctive, small mortise and tenon chamfered panel door two feet by three feet, which accesses a small storage area.”

Because of the dilapidated condition of the Halifax Tavern structure, it will have to be dismantled and transported to its new location in phases.

As Hunley documents the process, Espy said he and the town plan to continue to work with the Historical Society to uncover the historical significance of the structure to the town of Halifax and the region as a whole.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.