History of the Inn
In 1817, Joseph Sutherland Jr. began construction of a tavern on what was to be known as the James River Turnpike. Construction was completed in 1820. Joseph's son, Clifton Garland (CG), managed the tavern and its working farm of approximately 300 acres. CG and his wife Mary, along with their 16 children lived and worked on the property. Three of their sons were Civil War veterans.
Originally known as the Crossroads Tavern, the Inn has served no other purpose since its completed construction than as a stop for the weary traveler. The Inn recalls the period when it first served as a tavern and overnight lodging for farmers and travelers using the Staunton and James River Turnpike. The Turnpike connected Staunton and Scottsville and followed a route over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Travelers using this road were required to pay a toll. In 1850, the general assembly decided to plank the road to improve travel and benefit the farm trade while ensuring its year-round use. The road that passes in front of the Inn today is part of the original turnpike and is aptly named "Plank Road". The road was vital to furnish farmers and planters a way to get their goods to the James River using market wagons. Goods such as flour, oats, corn, salt, bacon, whiskey, liquor and plaster all made their way across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Adding to the significance of the Inn is the rare survival of the day books of CG Sutherland, currently kept at the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. The day books recorded the wages of several of CG's children and Sarah Gillocke, the teacher who employed her services here. Another entry carefully records the number of gallons of whiskey and cider used to pay Dabney Carr, the nephew of Thomas Jefferson, for rent on the property.
The Inn is listed on the National Historic Register and has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark. The Inn is a three bay, double pile brick tavern with three and a half stories including basement level. The building sits on top of a brick and stone foundation, is roofed with tin and has pairs of interior brick chimneys on either gable end. The brick is laid 5 course American bond. Put holes are found on the west end of the building, formerly providing sockets for scaffolding boards should repairs be necessary. The basement level includes a spirits cellar with original barrel racks as well as a laundry fireplace. The main entrance door and transom are original. It opens onto a central stair hall with an ascending stair at its front end and an ascending and descending stair toward the center. The Inn has been virtually unaltered since its construction. Because of the remarkable preservation and detailed rooms, the Inn can provide guests a modern glimpse of how early 1800's taverns were built.
The Inn at the Crossroads, a well preserved example of an early 19th century tavern, has also witnessed some interesting events. In the spring of 1823, a meeting between Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Buren was held in the Dabney Carr room which was the private dining room at the time. Jefferson was either traveling to or from Poplar Forest to be with his grandson Frances Eppes and his family. Teddy Roosevelt visited the tavern for supper following a day of birding while visiting his beloved Pine Knot. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a visit to the tavern in 1936 when he made a speech from the front porch prior to dedicating the George Washington National Forest.
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