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Mahone’s Tavern will be a learning museum and serve as Southampton County’s center for Civil War related educational activities. The east parlor will be used as classroom and will enable the presentation of on-site, hands-on interactive programs for local schools. The Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) specify that students must learn about the Civil War during Grades 4, 5, 8, and 11. The hands-on learning approach, based on the Colonial Williamsburg model, has proven to be the finest method to reinforce historical themes outside of the classroom setting. Consequently, educational programs offered by Mahone’s Tavern will feature an educator, dressed as a Civil War soldier or civilian, who will interact with students by engaging them with reproduction uniforms and gear while reinforcing historical themes. Sample programs may include Civil War Soldier’s or Civilian’s Life and Civil War Era Medicine.

The strengths of these programs are based on the ability of costumed interpreters to interplay with students. Costumed interpreters are able to reveal meaning and relationships through the use of objects and first-hand experience rather than simply communicating factual information.

Studies, some of which date back to the 1920s, show museums to be effective teaching and learning environments. Between 1978 and 2008, 20 studies were conducted on the impact museums had on school students’ learning. The results show that in 19 of 20 cases museums were able to cause significant increases in learning among students. Studies conducted by the College of William and Mary, York County Public Schools, and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation documented learning gains among the York County fourth graders participating in structured programs with costumed interpreters. Additionally, a study completed by the Virginia Department of Education, the University of Virginia, and the Hampton City Schools documented significant learning gains among students using a museum program with costumed staff as compared to traditional classroom instruction. Mahone’s Tavern will be the only museum in Southampton County offering this type of specialized educational activity designed to help fulfill SOL requirements.

In addition to school age programming, Mahone’s Tavern will offer an annual seminar about Civil War themes to broaden participant understanding of the conflict. This seminar or a lecture series could be presented in conjunction with a local college as well as in partnership with a local Civil War Roundtable and the Urquhart-Gillette SCV Camp. Furthermore, a series of tours taking attendees to local and regional Civil War sites will be offered. Tavern staff and volunteers should develop a power point presentation about Major General William Mahone and promote its presentation to local clubs as well as SCV and CWRT throughout Virginia and North Carolina.