Madden’s Tavern C.1842

This simple log structure is a rare relic of pre-Civil War black entrepreneurship in rural Virginia. Completed about 1840, the tavern was built by, owned, and operated by Willis Madden (1800-1879) a free black, and was likely the only tavern in the region with a proprietor of Madden’s race. Virginia free blacks were able to earn and keep wages and to own and operate a business but were forbidden to vote, bear arms, testify against a white person, or be educated. Madden built the tavern on property purchased in 1835 on the Old Fredericksburg Road. The western half of the structure was Madden’s family quarters. The eastern portion consisted of a public room and a loft for overnight guests. A general store and blacksmith-wheelwright shop was also on the property. Union troops sacked the place in 1863-64. The property is still owned by Madden’s descendants. It was also known as Maddenville Farm.

Business Details


East of Culpeper near Lignum on Rte. 610, N. of Rte. 3 and west of Rte. 647, Virginia


Private residence - not open to the public


  • Free Parking