The Fairfax County Planning Commission has approved a request by the county Park Authority to acquire five additional acres at the historic Dranesville Tavern Park, allowing the Park Authority to proceed with plans to operate a restaurant at the tavern.
The 150-year-old tavern, eight miles west of Tyson's Corner just inside the Fairfax County line, was opened as a museum in July 1978, 10 years after the Park Authority acquired the tavern and slightly more than five acres surrounding it. The county later restored the tavern to its 1850 appearance when it was operated as a roadside inn.
As a planning commission meeting last week, Park Authority officials said the additional five acres would be used to expand parking facilities needed for the restaurant, to establish a buffer against future development in the area and to build an improved entrance to the park to allow easier access for the public.
Richard W. Jones superintendent of the Park Authority's land acquisition department, said the restaurant proposal was still in the planning stages, but calls for a seating capacity for 100 to 120 persons. Jones said the Park Authority will sign a contract with a commerical firm to operate the restaurant. Park officials added that the restaurant would not replace the tavern museum, but would be an adjunct to it.
The proposed land acquistion was approved in the county's 1977 park bond referendum and is scheduled for development in the fiscal 1980-1984 Capital Improvement Program. The planning commission actions allows the Park Authority to proceed in negotiations to purchase the land, which is on the east side of the park and is part of a privately owned 20-acre parcel.
County historians recently determined that what later became Dranesville Tavern was build about 1824. The log structure was probably a private residence. By the mid-1800s, historians say, the building was expanded and became an inn. Historians believe it also has been a post office, a general store and a polling place. When the Park Authority purchased the tavern in 1968, it was a private home.
Historians believe the tavern was a stopping point for merchants, farmers and drovers on their way from Leesburg and the Shenandoah Valley to markets in Georgetown and Alexandria. In the late 19th century, patrons could buy a meal for 25 cents, and could spend the night for 35 cents.Boarding facilities in small, fenced fields on the 12 acres surrounding the tavern were available for sheep and cows for 3 and 5 cents a head respectively.
Curator Susan McCauley and her staff are working to piece together more about the tavern and are concentrating on the late 19th century.
Vistors to the tavern see original red sandstone fireplaces, original window hardware and glass, examples of different stages of construction, period furniture and photographs of the tavern and its owners during later phases.
The Dranesville Tavern is a Virginia landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Closed to visitors in January and February, it will repopen in March on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment during weekdays. Admission is $1 for adults and 50 cents for children.