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Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Swan Tavern

Historic Yorktown

 

—Colonial National Historical Park —

 
Swan Tavern Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 30, 2015
1. Swan Tavern Marker
Inscription. ”The Taverns are many here, and much frequented, and an unbounded Licentiousness seems to taint the Morals of the young Gentlemen of this Place...amiable Hospitality…seems…to have found no great Footing: Schemes of Gain, or Parties of Gaming and Pleasure, muddy too much their Souls, and banish from amongst them the glorious Prosperity to doing good.” Edward Kimber, “Observations in Several Voyages and Travels in America in the Year 1736”

The most prominent tavern in Yorktown during the 18th century was the Swan Tavern, which opened for business around 1722 under the ownership of Thomas Nelson and Joseph Walker.

Strategically located one block from the town’s thriving waterfront and across the street from the county courthouse, the Swan Tavern provided its customers with drink, food and a place to socialize. The tavern was also the site of public auctions, including one advertised in the Virginia Gazette in 1757, where two cargo ships and their contents of “sugar, rum, indigo, pimento, coffee, ginger, cotton, etc.” were sold “to the highest bidders, for ready Money.”

The tavern closed prior to Civil War, and by 1862, occupying Union forces were storing munitions in the building. On the night of December 16, 1863, a fire destroyed the tavern in
Swan Tavern image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 30, 2015
2. Swan Tavern
one huge explosion.

In 1935, the National Park Service reconstructed the tavern and outbuildings to help recreate an important element of Yorktown’s colonial history.

(captions)
(top right) A 1722 deed shows the floor plan for the tavern. Courtesy of the Circuit Court of Northampton County, Virginia.
(lower right) Workers began reconstructing the Swan Tavern kitchen atop the original foundations in 1934.
(lower right) Tavern artifacts uncovered by the National Park Service in a 1933 archeological excavation.
 
Erected by National Park Service.
 
Location. 37° 14.138′ N, 76° 30.532′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Ballard Street (Virginia Route 1020), on the left when traveling west on Main Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. York Hall (a few steps from this marker); York County War Monument (a few steps from this marker); Medical Shop (Reconstructed) (within shouting distance of this marker); Yorktown (within shouting distance of this marker); West Along Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); East Along Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Somerwell House (within shouting distance of this marker); Grace Church - circa 1697 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Yorktown.
 
Also see . . .  Colonial National Historical Park. National Park Service (Submitted on May 31, 2015.) 
 
Categories. Colonial EraIndustry & CommerceWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 199 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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