Liberty University has purchased the 1763 Mead’s Tavern from the Friends of New London, Virginia, Inc. (FNL). We hope this page will provide answers to the questions that our membership and the general public have regarding the sale. We encourage you to contact us for further information.
Who are the “Friends of New London” and what is the Mead’s Tavern project?
FNL was incorporated by a group of local citizens in 2005 with the mission to “collect, preserve and disseminate” information about the historic town of New London. Since then, we have produced a large number of public history events in the village while conducting both historical and archaeological research into its past. In the summer of 2012 an opportunity presented itself to acquire one of the few remaining colonial era structures in all of Central Virginia. Mead’s Tavern, erected by William Mead in 1763, has stood for over two centuries near the center of New London. FNL’s board of directors took a leap of faith in purchasing the property in order to research and restore or rehabilitate it to its historic appearance. Our goal has been to create a public museum, research center and home for our organization as we pursue the work of exploring New London’s remarkable history.
Why did FNL sell the property to Liberty University?
FNL successfully raised mortgage and maintenance funds for the Mead’s Tavern project for over two years. However, in the fall of 2014, mounting financial pressures and the realization that the Mead’s project was negatively impacting our other research initiatives led the board to seek a partner in the preservation effort. Partnerships between museums and universities are a growing national trend in the preservation field. This type of arrangement is reflected locally in the relationship between the Historic Sandusky museum and Lynchburg College. With that model in mind, FNL entered discussions with Liberty University to see if a mutually beneficial arrangement could be reached. The sale of the Mead’s property is the culmination of these talks.
What does Liberty University intend to do with the property?
Of course, FNL is not in a position to speak officially for Liberty. However, Liberty has expressed its intention to restore or rehabilitate the building as an asset to the mission of its educational institution and to the local public, including the potential for having a museum at the property open to the general public. Our agreement includes provisions to conduct historical investigations, including archaeology, in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and the guidelines of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The decision whether to conduct a restoration versus a rehabilitation of the structure will be determined by Liberty following completion of an historic structures report by a qualified architectural historian.
Many of the details of the project are still being worked out, but it offers a large variety of opportunities for Liberty’s faculty and students. Among these are classes in architectural preservation, historical research projects, internships in museum studies, participation in historical interpretation, and field schools in architectural history and archaeology.
What happens to FNL?
FNL will be stronger than ever as a result of the collaboration. Our agreement includes a license for FNL to maintain an office and library at the Mead’s Tavern property. We will assist Liberty with historical research and informally advise them during the project. However, FNL maintains full autonomy and we will now return part of our focus to other projects. Among these are an ongoing oral history project, archaeology, continued research on different aspects of the town and preservation of other historic structures in the vicinity.
How can I get involved?
FNL wants your help more than ever! We hope to grow our membership numbers and build our unrestricted funds so that we can finish ongoing projects and tackle new ones as opportunities arise. We have needs for researchers, event organizers, carpenters, computer programmers and a host of other specialists. Please consider joining or making a tax-deductible donation. Stay tuned for postings of upcoming meetings and events on our website and Facebook page.
For further information contact Friends of New London Public Relations Chair Revely B. Carwile, Jr. at (434) 907-5396.