The History of Hazel River Inn

At only 17 years of age, George Washington was commissioned to survey and plot the town of Culpeper which would be founded a decade later in 1759. The north side of Davis Street was designated as the “Public Square” which was comprised of the colonial jail, original courthouse, stocks and whipping posts. The first documentation of any structure on plot 35, where the Hazel River Inn now stands, is a deed of sale in 1790 from Thomas Reade Rootes and his wife Sarah to Timothy Matlock. T.R. Rootes was a distinguished Virginia lawyer and later a member of the House of Delegates. Also notably, he was the grandfather of Confederate General Thomas Cobb who was killed in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Not having been the only name associated with the building to have a distinguished family member, Timothy Matlock was the cousin of Timothy Matlack who famously penned the Declaration of Independence. When Timothy Matlock died, he willed his estate to his wife Ester. Shortly after her husband’s death, she sold the building to Richard Norris.

The house they lived in still stands as the kitchen portion of the current building. It is unclear what year it was built but land tax records of 1784 indicate John Rootes, an uncle of the afore mentioned, was the owner of the property prior to. Ownership remained within the Norris family for many years, during which the structure was added onto by John Cooke Green circa 1835. Eventually, he came to acquire the estate, willing it to his wife Lucy when he died in 1860.

Since its construction, the addition to the building has been used as various businesses such as a tobacco warehouse, stables and a tin shop. Most notably, it was a Civil War jail for both the Union and Confederacy. Whoever was occupying the town had control of the jail, as Culpeper switched hands between the two armies over the course of the war. So little is known about the building during this dark time, as many records were destroyed in the courthouse fire but ghosts of the past still remain. In more recent years, Twisted Paranormal Society preformed an investigation of the building uncovering ghostly secrets from the past. The spirits of soldiers and slaves still remain within the buildings walls.

Before the turn of the twentieth century, Billy Fray’s feed shop occupied the building along with Culpeper Produce Company and the beginnings of Yowell Hardware. The first telephone line in Culpeper ran from Fray’s store to Locust Dale. In the 1880’s, an armory was built on the neighboring plot. The two previous structures on the site burned down leaving a mysterious cellar with an unknown past. Culpeper’s first telegraph company operated out of the current building with the attic used as a meeting place for the Culpeper Minute Men. Dances were held there by the Pot and Kettle Club to raise money for the unit. In 1908, Yowell expanded his business to the armory eventually acquiring ownership of both lots until selling them in the 1970’s. The interior was renovated in the early 1980’s for use as a restaurant, during which it was The Davis Street Ordinaries antique shop. The current owners, world renowned chef Peter Stogbuchner and his wife Karen, have owned the building since 2006. It has survived two major fires and an earthquake, remaining the oldest commercial building in Culpeper.

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195 East Davis Street Culpeper, Virginia 22701 540-825-7148
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