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Historic Properties Rental Services: Dranesville Tavern

Dranesville Tavern

11919 Leesburg Pike
Herndon, Virginia 20170

Built in 1824, Dranesville Tavern was one of five taverns located near the Dranesville Crossroads. It quickly found a steady flow of regular customers among many farmers and drovers moving grain and livestock from Leesburg and western Virginia to the ports of Alexandria and Georgetown.

In 1865, the Alexandria Gazette described Dranesville Tavern as "one of the finest roadside inns in the State of Virginia." That tradition of excellence continues today at this beautifully restored Virginia Historic Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, complimented by a rolling meadow and wooded stream valley, offers six rooms and large country porch.

Indoor Banquet: 80, between the building's two levels and six rooms
Indoor Cocktail-Style Reception: 99
Indoor and Outdoor (with tent): 150
View Floor Plan

Rental Rates:
Base Fee (4-hours): $380 for Fairfax County Residents; $500 for Non-Residents
Extra Hours: $95/hour for Fairfax County Residents; $125/hour for Non-Residents
Alcohol Beverage Use Fee: $150
Security Deposit: $300

The rental time is to include setup and cleanup time, as well as the function. The security deposit is refunded after the rental, provided there were no damages or contractual violations.

Available Equipment:
6 four-foot round tables
8 six-foot rectangular tables
90 metal folding chairs

Hardwood floors
Cold kitchen
Sandstone fireplaces (non-working)
Central heat and air conditioning

The entry hall, two meeting rooms and restrooms on the main level are wheelchair accessible.

Contact Us   for specific date availability or to schedule an appointment to view the property

Location and Directions:

Dranesville Tavern
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Dranesville Tavern

Dranesville Tavern History

Dranesville Tavern was built circa 1824 by Sanford Cockerille to serve travelers on the Leesburg-Alexandria and Georgetown Turnpikes. It is the sole survivor of numerous ordinaries, taverns and an inn that clustered near the junction of the two pikes that came to be known as Dranesville. Dranesville was named after Washington Drane, the first tavern proprietor to locate his establishment there. It was a popular location for businesses because it marked the halfway point between the Potomac River markets and the Shenandoah Valley farms and was a natural overnight stop for travelers.

The tavern was constructed as two log structures joined by a post and beam enclosure. The 'parlor' and the 'dining room' (as the rooms were designated in the early 20th century), each with a second floor room above, are connected by a central hall with early Virginia air conditioning - that is, the doors open on each end of the hall for ventilation. The kitchen was originally a single story structure. The chimneys are Seneca sandstone.

The tavern was operated under license to Ira Gunnell who was also the local postmaster. The tavern served as a "house of private entertainment' and as such served no 'ardent spirits' and Gunnell could pick and choose his clientele. In 1850 the new owners, the Jacksons, 'modernized' by adding siding to the log walls, windows were enlarged and new mantels and lintels were brought from Alexandria. The interior walls plastered and a second story for the kitchen added. This period saw the height of travel on the turnpikes and in 1865, the Virginia Gazette wrote that the tavern was "one of the best roadside inns in the state of Virginia."

During the Civil War, the area around the tavern served as one of the outermost picket points for the defense of Washington. Troops passed on their way to ford the Potomac and head north. In December 1861 the village was enveloped in battle between Union troops of Gen. McCall and the Confederate forces of Gen. J.E.B Stuart. Skirmishes continued until March 1865. One of the tantalizing gaps is the role the tavern played during the war. Union troops camped on the lawns of Holly Knoll across the pike, but no specific records or references have been found to detail the events at the tavern.

The tavern was bought by the Jenkins in 1881and would stay in their ownership until 1968. Unfortunately the advent of the railroad through Herndon sent the Dranesville area into economic decline. For awhile the tavern operated subsequently as a drovers' rest, general store and then summer resort. To make ends meet, future generations of Jenkins used the tavern as refuge for wards of the county, a boarding house, home for the elderly, a funeral parlor and a restaurant that became known for its Sunday chicken dinners.

The tavern continued to serve guests until was acquired by the Park Authority who saved it from demolition during the widening of Route 7. The outbuildings were demolished and the tavern moved back on its land to the present site. The rear portion of the building and the basement were added at that time. Restoration complete, Dranesville Tavern reopened in 1978 as a rare example of the once prevalent roadside inn or tavern. Additional widening of Route 7 in the 1990s led to the current entrance configuration.

Dranesville Tavern is a Virginia Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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