13181 Hanover Courthouse Road
Hanover, Virginia 23069
Box Office (804) 282-2620
Administrative Office (804) 783-1688
Seating capacity: 150
The Hanover Tavern is one of the oldest taverns in the United States. The first tavern was licensed at the site beginning in 1733. When the Hanover Tavern was purchased by the editor of the Virginia Gazette in 1743, it was part of the plantation grounds at the courthouse, and it went on to serve as lodgings to those with appointments before the court.
Patrick Henry's father-in-law purchased the tavern in 1750, and Patrick Henry lived at the Tavern for several years. Other memorable visitors include George Washington, Lord Cornwallis, Chief Justice John Marshall, and Edgar Allen Poe. Several slaves from the Tavern took part in Gabriel's Great Slave Rebellion of 1800.
In 1953, six actors from New York moved into what had become a historic ruin, and founded Central Virginia’s first professional theatre, Barksdale Theatre. During the first six years, four of the original founders moved on, leaving Pete Kilgore, Muriel McAuley and newcomer (and newly-wed) Nancy Kilgore in charge. They produced Greater Richmond’s first professional productions of plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward, Thornton Wilder, William Inge and Edward Albee.
They also became dynamic civic leaders. In defiance of Jim Crow laws, Barksdale was Virginia’s first performing arts organization to open its doors to integrated audiences. Barksdale launched Greater Richmond’s first “studio season,” converting an old country store into an experimental theatre. Barksdale conducted Virginia’s first professional theatre classes for children. In 1973, Barksdale produced Virginia’s first professional play based on African American experience, Lorraine Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted and Black.
In support of their theatrical mission, Pete, Muriel and Nancy continued the endless task of restoring the Tavern. Then in 1990, the Tavern was sold to the Hanover Tavern Foundation, who have restored the Tavern to its present state. Although Barksdale Theatre moved to Willow Lawn in 1996, we returned theatrical programming to Hanover Tavern in January 2006.
In 2012, Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV merged to become Virginia Repertory Theatre. We continue to perform at the Tavern, and our 2012-2013 Season will be announced soon.
All of our venues are wheelchair accessible. You can purchase wheelchair seating online or via the box office.