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Courtroom at Boyd Tavern | by snapdragginphoto
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Courtroom at Boyd Tavern

A courtroom at a tavern? I suppose it makes sense if you're having a bad day in court. So how did this happen? The folks at the Boyd Tavern Foundation handed over the keys to the Boyd Tavern National Historic Landmark so that I might manage some interior shots for publication… they obviously don’t know of my proclivity to rearrange furniture! Actually, it was quite humbling to be trusted with so fascinating a piece of history.


The tavern was originally constructed in 1785 as an ordinary (what we would think of as a hotel) situated near the courthouse in Boydton, a small town that would eventually become the county seat of Mecklenburg County, Virginia. In 1794, it was bought by Alexander Boyd. From that time to this, the structure had undergone changes that reflect its current federal style. It has served as a tavern, a hotel, a courthouse and jail, a stage coach depot, and a mustering place for local Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. From the beginning, the Boyd family has continued a connection to this place. Many of members of the foundation can trace their lineage back to Alexander Boyd and beyond… I can trace mine back to my grandma. I’ve come to know many of them as a family where passion for life and place, a compassion for others, and a salt-of-the-earth southern gentility seems to be a commonality among them. Perhaps those aspects are well steeped into these folks who find their ties to a place that was known for its hospitality.


This image is of the interior wall of what was once the courtroom. I used natural light and a leveled Canon 24mm tilt/shift (at eye level) for three shots to produce this image, yet still had to tweak the perspective a little. I find the depth here to be somewhat mesmerizing with the filtered sunlight streaming through the door. There are paintings throughout of folks who have a past association here... the painting shown here, however, of Sally Townes Sturdivant, is one of which I am quite unsure of the connection. Her face stands out hauntingly from a dark background. What I can tell you is that she died of typhus on her honeymoon. History is often rather mean... that’s one reason why we hopefully learn something from it.


The Boyd Tavern is essentially a museum that gives us a unique view to the time of a fledgling United States... a peek into the history that brings us where we are. Where history is concerned, it seems the older you get, the more relevant it becomes… perhaps that’s because it has somehow weaved itself into our very being. "To me history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn't just part of our civic responsibility. To me it's an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is." – David McCullough


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Taken on March 2, 2014