Schwartz Tavern is Blackstone’s oldest building and has important associations with the town’s early history. John Schwartz was an early settler in Nottoway County. In 1790, he purchased the property near the intersections of Cooke’s, Hungarytowne, and Old Church Roads—the stage route from Petersburg to North Carolina.
In May 1798, Schwartz was issued a license to operate a tavern at this site. It was about a block east of another tavern owned by Francis White. Schwartz is the German word for black, therefore the crossroads became known as Black’s and White’s Taverns.
By 1800, the community also included a doctor’s office, blacksmith’s shop, and icehouse. After the Civil War the town was named Blackstone. While many believe that this name was an allusion to Black’s or Schwartz, it actually honors an English jurist.
Schwartz Tavern is a rambling 99 foot long building that has been altered several times over its history. A ballroom addition is on its north side. The southern end of the tavern dates from the early 19th century and was known as the “dwelling house” as opposed to the “tavern house.” In the 1840s, the two buildings were connected. The exterior walls are covered with early beaded weatherboarding. Beaded cornerboards and the box cornice with bed-and-crown molding also survive.
The interior trim may be characterized as Federal in style based primarily on the form of the four downstairs mantles. The most ornate of the mantles has symmetrically molded pilasters supporting a projecting block with an elliptical sunburst.
After John Schwartz’s death, the tavern continued to be operated by the Schwartz family. By the 1830s, the tavern complex included the tavern house, dwelling house, kitchen, quarters, stable, carriage house, blacksmith shop, wheelwright’s shop, ice house, doctor’s office, and more than 130 acres. In later years, the tavern became a private residence and was the home of Gilliam Anderson until his death in 1948.
How to visit:
The Robert Thomas Carriage Museum and Schwartz Tavern are available for in-person visits by appointment only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, by emailing or calling Downtown Blackstone, Inc.’s office at [email protected] or 434-292-3041. Group tours on other days of the week, including weekends, are also available but require 30 days’ advance notice in order to secure a volunteer guide for your visit. Admission is free but donations are accepted.