The barbed-wire fence that for almost two years has surrounded the historic Dranesville Tavern on Leesburg Pike eight miles west of Tyson's Corner was taken down last week as the Fairfax County Park Authority readied the restored tavern for its public opening July 29.
Bought by the Park Authority in 1969, the 150-year-old tavern, once used by sheep and cattle drovers bringing herds to Washington, was to be reopened during the Bicentennial as a working tavern. However, the restoration wasn't completed then and still isn't. There is no water or plumbing, and none of the outbuildings or 12 acres of corrals and gardens that the Park Authority hopes to recreate has been completed.
The Park Authority still plans to turn Dranesville into a working tavern, as Alexandria has done with the city-owned Gadsby's Tavern, but for the next year or so it will be open only two or three days a week as a museum.
The tavern, a Virginia landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, has two hand-hewn log cabin sections, built in the early 1800s just after the turnpike between Alexandria and Leesburg was opened, and a larger section built shortly before the Civil War. In pre-war days cattle were fed at the tavern for 5 cents a head, sheep for 3 cents. Their drovers could get a meal for 25 cents, and for an additional 35 cents a bed for the night.
The tavern was owned by the same family from 1881 until 1946 and took boarders until 1969 when the Park Authority bought it. Almost all of the original woodwork and hardware, down to small door and window latches, remain intact.
Opening day festivities will begin at 2 p.m. with a tour of the building, a slide show, country dancing and music by the Goliard Brass Ensemble.Visiting hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday until Labor Day when the tavern will be open only on weekends from 10 a.. to 5 p.m.