Mahone’s Tavern Museum will focus on Southampton County’s Civil War experience as well as the life of Major General William Mahone, CSA. Exhibits will be placed within the three main rooms available on the first floor. All exhibits will be installed in keeping with National Register of Historic Places and American Association of Museums guidelines; therefore, displays will not cause any permanent damage to historic features and can be removed when any interior renovations occur. The exhibits should be installed as quickly as feasible so that the tavern can open to the public.
All attendees will enter via the front door (ADA access is provided via side door) where they will be greeted by a docent. Visitors will be given an introduction to tavern and then will be able to view the Southampton Soldiers exhibit in the west parlor. This display features the flag of the Southampton Cavalry as well as other personal objects associated with the over 1,000 men from the county who served the Confederacy. The Life and Times of William Mahone exhibit will be placed in the east parlor. Since this space retains many of the building’s original elaborate Federal-style interior elements, the far-east wall with chimney will be utilized to provide a background for the structure’s use as a tavern. The room has 34-inch wainscot panels above the baseboards and hard-carved dentil molding. The finest feature is the fireplace’s frontispiece which is flanked by fluted pilasters on a block plinth. These interior decorative elements can be used to return this section of the room to its look when Fielding Mahone purchased the tavern in 1840. The room’s interior area will have tables and benches similar to mid-19th century taverns which will be used for educational programs, lectures, meetings, etc. The north and south walls will house interpretive panels detailing Mahone’s career as an educator, engineer, Civil war general, railroad tycoon and politician. Attendees will then move into the existing dining room addition which will house displays relating to the Battle of Crumpler’s Bluff and the defense of the Blackwater Line. Form-fitted corner exhibit cases will contain artifacts such as a model of the USS COMMODORE PERRY, buttons and other relics from units serving along the Blackwater River and a section of the Franklin Depot damaged by Union shell fire. A diorama depicting the Blackwater Line will be placed in the room’s center.
These exhibits will enable Mahone’s Tavern to offer a comprehensive overview of Southampton’s Civil War experience for visitors, citizens, and students seeking to understand how this conflict changed the county and nation forevermore.