History classes are established to help restore the colonial-era building
Liberty University recently purchased Mead’s Tavern in New London, a colonial-era structure built in 1763, with plans to restore the building and use it as hands-on experience for the students through the development of new residential classes.
Dr. Roger Schultz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said he toured the property when (President) Falwell’s office approached him looking to acquire the Tavern.
“I’m a historian, so I went there to represent the history department in January 2015,” Schultz said. “President Falwell was really focused on having this as a working laboratory for our history students.”
“The last thing you want to do is to go into a structure that was built in 1763 and start tearing off things because the stuff that is torn off may give you hints as to when the building was constructed.”
Schultz said students can get involved through various ways during the restoration process.
The Tavern allows opportunities for Christian Community Service and volunteer work.
“We have opportunities for Christian Service and some students already who are helping with cleaning, publicity and helping with events,” Schultz said.
“We should have regular CSER opportunities if students want to do that.”
The first step consisted of obtaining a Preliminary Information Form (PIF) with hopes that Mead’s Tavern will be recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Secondly, the university contracted an archaeological survey.
“We contracted to have samples dug at different places around the property to see how old the artifacts were,” Schultz said.
“They’ve found pieces of pottery, nails, chunks of guns, keys and all kinds of doodads.”
There are a number of steps required during a restoration process.
Schultz said Liberty has not set an exact date for the completed restoration, but the process is moving forward.
“The whole process is slow so it just takes a while. You’re working with university entities and then you’re working with consultants and contracting with people to get the work done.”
Schultz said the main goal is to restore the property as is feasible and then beyond that it will be used as a historical resource for the community and students.
“Our next step is to contract with a restoration specialist to do the actual investigation on the building, and that’s a complicated process,” Schultz said.
As a result of the recently purchased building, Liberty has added two introductory classes, Public History and Digital History.
Public History, HIST 305, began in fall 2015 and Digital History, HIST 306, began in spring 2016.
“Each semester, the focus changes depending on what is happening with Mead’s Tavern,” Donna Donald, assistant professor of History, said.”
“The Fall 2015 class worked on a proposal for what should be done with the property. This semester’s class is working on two projects.”
Schultz said he is excited to be a part of this process and has witnessed many students develop their skills outside of the classroom through Mead’s Tavern.
Donald said the students had the opportunity to present their work at New London Day on Oct.15. NLD is an annual festival sponsored by Friends of New London, a local historical society and the group from which the University purchased Mead’s Tavern.
“One young man said, ‘This is exactly what I wanted to do when I was at Liberty University.’ Schultz said of the student. “He was a graduating senior. It was his last semester, but finally he had a chance to do some archaeological work.”
CONLEY is a news reporter.