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Liberty University students investigate historic Meads Tavern.

Restoration continues on historic 18th century property

June 8, 2018

This year, students have been hard at work helping to restore a local colonial-era landmark, Mead’s Tavern.

Among the many items discovered at Mead’s Tavern are a brass button and a large key.

Liberty University purchased the structure in 2015. Built in 1763, it is believed to be the oldest structure in the Lynchburg region. It has undergone many changes over the years and was most recently used as a private residence. The building was originally an ordinary — or tavern — that provided meals and a night’s stay to travelers in the once-bustling town of New London, which predates the American Revolution. Some well-known historical figures have passed by there, including Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.

Liberty partnered with the nonprofit Friends of New London, Virginia Inc. to continue restoring the site to its original state and use it as a hands-on learning experience for history students.

Students assisted historical archaeologists from Hurt & Proffitt Inc., a Lynchburg-based civil engineering and surveying firm, as they started work in the structure’s cellar, where they unearthed a hearth and several artifacts to help them in the dating process. Items discovered included a large key and brass button, a dress, cutlery handles, a thimble, straight pins, a lock strike plate, and a variety of ceramics and glass.

Liberty is also working with architectural historians on a Historic Structures Report, an essential step in the process toward applying for the National Register.

“This has been a valuable opportunity for our students,” said Donna Donald, assistant professor of history. “They have been working alongside professionals and gaining knowledge outside of the classroom, which will only boost their advantage in landing a job in the public history field.”

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