Rising Sun Tavern

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Two spirits with different temperaments enjoy this restored tavern.

Staff and docents watch their p’s and q’s and also expect spectral jokes.

Past famous spectral patrons visit on occasion.

 

DESCRIPTION

Rising Sun Tavern is an 18th century hostelry museum. The original names given this tavern were The Washington Tavern and The Golden Eagle Tavern during the 18th Century. An old antique sign that was found on this property, saying The Rising Sun Tavern was at first thought to be a name for the 18th Century Tavern, but in truth was made for another tavern altogether. The name was used anyway by the the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

The building is a great example of Colonial construction; having a one-and-a-half story frame building covered with broadhand-beveled clapboards. In the front of the structure is a small, restored stone porch. Rising Sun Tavern has a gabled roof; pierced by three tiny dormers and built-in end chimneys.

Thanks to pain-staking, intense discovery efforts and intricate restoration, The Rising Sun Tavern Museum is truly like stepping back in time to visit a middle to late 1700s’ tavern, that has on display inside a lot of the 18th Century items that would’ve been found in this era with the original rooms downstairs and upstairs. The inside looks like the tavern is all ready to open for 1760-1799 patrons. The star piece of furniture has to be the 1760 replica of the actual 1760 bar; a popular place to be to saunter up for a beer or harder stuff.

What is called the “banquet room” has a “paneled corner” fireplace and a gorgeous, antique built-in cupboard. Charles Washington had the foresight to build a large banquet/ballroom, in his original building and it was well used because the demand for having social events at this very popular tavern then called the Washington Tavern. A fire destroyed it sometime in its history, and it was replaced with a smaller event room.

Other items that were restored are the Chair rails, cornices, the unique, paneled fireplace and even the 18th century one-of-a-kind stairway, that leads up to the three sleeping rooms; for the gentry, and common man. Historic details were strictly important; even painting all of it in their original colors. The cherry on the top of this Intensive, careful restoration are that all the furniture decor and items on display all date from the late 18th century.

There are many interesting items in the Rising Sun Tavern to see such as 18th Century gaming tables, a large and important collection of English and American pewter, and the original license to open a tavern business and Inn. The old Post Office area has been restored, with slots/boxes for individual people to receive their mail.

Docents dressed in Colonial dress give visitors a tour of the first and second floor. They give visitors the Rising Sun Tavern’s history and point out all the restored details of the tavern, and items on display.

Sunrise Tavern is open to the public on an unlimited basis. We plan to visit next time Tom and I roll through Virginia again on a road tour.

 

HISTORY

Historically restored buildings are a joy for the community as they show how life was lived a long time ago, as well as preserving places that famous people once stood. In order to be a business, structures throughout the decades and eras sometimes have had to change in order to be competitive and profitable for its owner;(Sonora and The David Finney Inn). Owners wanted to make the building their own to modernize and make the place more efficient. Sometimes old structures are re-purposed to suit the owner’s needs. Old Taverns have been turned into boarding houses and even homes:( Dodson Tavern Home in St. Petersburg)

The original structure was a private living space as well as a tavern, built by George Washington’s brother, Charles in 1760, where he lived while still living in Fredericksburg. Charles Washington opened The Washington Tavern, much to the delight of Fredericksburg citizens.

The Washington Tavern became a popular place for a lot of citizens of all economic classes; both men and women, The common people, the gentry class, and a special room for women. Each group had their own space Not only on the first floor, but the second floor sleeping rooms as well. On the first floor, ”There was a great room for the landed gentry, a common man’s Tap Room, and a ladies’ retiring room.” Upstairs there were three sleeping rooms, and an L shaped storage room. There was also a common man’s room with no fireplace. It cost only a farthing to stay out of the weather.

There was a separate kitchen in the backyard of the tavern as was the custom in the 18th Century. The Washington Tavern also had a large assembly/ballroom that was a popular place indeed. It’s location was the perfect spot to have a tavern as well as having a lovely view.

Southern Statesmen on their way to Philadelphia to attend to their legislative duties loved to stop here for a drink and sometime for a night’s sleep before traveling the rest of their journey. John Marshall, Patrick Henry and Hugh Mercer are a few of the other colonial leaders who loved this place.

Important events happened in The Washington Tavern. Here in 1777, founding fathers George Mason, George Wythe, Edrnund Pendleton, Thomas Lee, and Thomas Jefferson outlined the bill that Jefferson later phrased as the Statute of Virginia for Religious Liberty. The Peace Ball, attended by George Washington, Washington’s mother and brother Charles, the Marquis de Lafoyette, the Count de Rochambeau, and others to celebrate the Revolutionary War battle victory at Yorktown, was held in 1781 in The Washington Tavern assembly/ballroom room. Hazzah for the Patriots!

In 1792, John Frazier bought the Washington Tavern, that he then called “The Golden Eagle.” The Golden Eagle Tavern remained a popular place for a lot of citizens; common, gentry class, both women and men. The large assembly ballroom was a popular place for social events until it burned to the ground.

The Golden Eagle stopped being a Tavern sometime before the Civil War, possibly in the 1823, when The Golden Eagle Tavern was sold to another owner. After The Golden Eagle closed, it may have been turned into a inn or boarding house or a store of some type. At some point, it may have been once again someone’s house. The location is a perfect place for either a business or home.

By the turn of the 20th century, The Golden Eagle building was probably an unlivable fixer-upper opportunity, probably abandoned. Luckily, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now Preservation Virginia) bought this historical structure in 1907. They turned it into a historical shrine. They probably stabilized it, and slowly started to repair as the funds were available. A sign made for another tavern was found with the words The Rising Sun Tavern. So, The Preservation of Virginia Antiquities renamed the building; The Rising Sun Tavern.

The first historical list that The Rising Sun Tavern was added to was to National Historical Landmark in 1966. This structure was then listed on the NRHP on October 15th, 1966, and on the Virginia Landmark Register on September 9th, 1969. Loans were available now to really turn back time and conduct an intensive historical restoration, turning the hands of time back to the 18th Century.

An extensive, “extreme restoration effort” would be needed, as through the years this structure was changed and remodeled to suit the needs of the owners who either made their living here or lived here in their home. By the 1970s’, money was available through all the historic registers that it was listed on to start the process of turning the structure into a 1700s’ tavern, by conducting a long term archaeological investigation. It was discovered that a long porch once existed in the front of the structure. Finding clues as to how to replace it, a replica of the original stone porch was constructed in front of this tavern.

Archaeological work inside the structure found other physical 18th century design details that had been long forgotten and covered up. While working in the bar area, some of the original railings from the original 18th century bar were found under the plaster, giving restorers a big hint; enabling them to build a historic replica of the entire 18th century bar that originally was the center attraction of The Rising Sun Tavern.

The second floor rooms were also restored as well. All modern additions were removed, turning them all back into 18th Century sleeping rooms.

The Post Office as it once existed was carefully reconstructed, being historically accurate. The staircase leading up to the second floor was also restored.

This museum is a glorious historical museum thanks to all the hard work to make it an 18th Century Colonial tavern. Apparently, some spirits are also happy about this restored tavern.

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

When a structures is restored to their former historical glory, spirits who loved the building and sometimes come back into this renewed place that they loved while alive. The last Tavern Keeper, John Frazier must be really happy with all the historical work done; restoring it to much what it must of been like when he owned the property. Spirits of the founding fathers still stop by for a pint of beer, or discuss politics, make plans or enjoy each other’s company or successes. Spirit of a past employee may also be here, helping John Frazier.

People while alive loved their business, sometimes like to stick around and find ways to still enjoy the life they once had in their own beloved place. John Frazier and perhaps his wife, his mother or other family member are here. Perhaps a past employee who worked for John may be here as well.

Spirits have the same personality they had while alive; not gaining any redeeming pluses or anything negative either. The spirit of John Frazier is the same mischievous jokester he was while alive. Another spirit who interacts with the living is all business, as a helper to John.

Sometimes Spirits get territorial about their chosen space and get cranky when bothered by the living. A spirit on the second floor doesn’t like to be interrupted.

When a spirit decides to stay in its favorite place in this world, sometimes family members or friends will stay or visit them, to keep them company. Loyal employees may also visit or reside. Perhaps John Frazier’s wife or family member is also there or visits to keep him company. An employee may also be here to help.

Sometimes spirits will discipline wayward, rude living people, or lazy ones, etc. Such a spirit exists here, so all the living must watch their P’s and Q’s. Electricity fascinates spirits from eras who didn’t have this modern convenience. A spirit or two are truly fascinated how the lights pop on and off, and what causes it.

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Spirits of Founding Fathers

Docents and visitors hear disembodied voices of Thomas Jefferson and other colonial leaders, in the corridors of the Rising Sun Tavern, and probably by the old bar and in the assembly room.

Spirit of John Frazier

He was the last Tavern Keeper.

John Frazier was a jolly, good-natured man with a sense of fun. He likes to playfully tease the living to let them know he is there, keeping them company!

Docents dressed in Colonial dresses and caps find that something tugs on their dresses and pulls off their caps.

Spirit of John or the unknown Spirit, or perhaps some of the founding fathers; Maybe all of them!

His presence is sometimes felt in the tavern, and other rooms, though it could be one of the other unknown spirits.

The doors open and shut by themselves, especially the front door.

Hats that were hanging on the coat hooks one evening at closing, were found neatly stacked on a chair when the museum was opened up in the morning, freeing the coat hooks for patrons who visit the next day.

Unknown Spirit

This spirit has with a temper and low tolerance for rudeness. Could be John Frazier’s wife, or perhaps Patrick Henry; known for his fiery personality or a burly bar employee.

Upstairs a spirit or two likes to play with the lights; turn them off and on, and even unplug them. Perhaps this spirit was trying to figure out how the lights work. One spirit was offended by the words and the attitude of the curator.

The curator was getting ready to close The Rising Sun Museum, so she turned off the lights in the rooms and also all the upstairs lights. As soon as she went downstairs, the lights on the second floor all popped on again.

After going up and turning off the lights, three times, and having them pop on again, she stomped up the stairs and told the spirit doing this to stop, scolding harshly.

To her great surprise, a spirit pulled the rug she was standing on out from under her, and she crashed to the floor; she wasn’t hurt though, but I bet she used a gentler, more respectful approach if this happened again.

STILL HAUNTED?

Probably so!

Culpeper Paranormal Investigations have held two paranormal investigations entitled, “A Night with John Frazier.“ It sounds like they have had some contact with this spirit perhaps through evps. They claim that John Frazier had died just a few years after he opened up his tavern. As this fact isn’t listed anywhere else, perhaps he told them during their investigations not being shy about interacting with the living. They haven’t shared their hard evidence on line.

The living John Frazier was a jolly, good natured man with a sense of fun, and apparently as a spirit he still does and like to get his chuckles at the expense of the living.

Another spirit who is the opposite of John, is all business and doesn’t take any rude behavior from the living. This second spirit may be John’s wife or mother, or other family member or even perhaps John’s employee who may have been hired to be bartender/bouncer/ and kept the place tidy and ready. I can see this tough, burley spirit pulling the rug out from the rude curator!

The spirits of the founding fathers like to still visit their favorite tavern and remember all their positive memories. One of them may have been the spirit who disciplined the rude curator as well, but I suspect it was the spirit of thebartender, bouncer and manager if John actually had such an employee.

 

LOCATION

1306 Caroline St.,
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

The Rising Sun Tavern Museum is located on Caroline St., cross streets being Fauqueret St, and Hauk Street. It’s location is fabulous; just a block up from the Rappahannock River.

SOURCES INCLUDE

  • en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rising_Sun_Tavern
  • www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers
  • www.dhr.virginia.gov

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Fredericksburg Haunts in Virginia