The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail links historic sites and institutions in Virginia that interpret the life of Patrick Henry, orator of the Revolution and Virginia’s first governor, as well as other important Virginians who made significant contributions to the American Revolution.
I had the opportunity to visit four sites along the Road to Revolution Trail: Hanover Courthouse, where Henry launched his public career; Polegreen Church, Henry’s boyhood church; Hanover Tavern, where Henry lived and studied law; and Scotchtown, one of Henry’s homes.
Other sites along the Road to Revolution Trail include Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, and Gunston Hall.
Although Henry only lived at Scotchtown a few years — 1771 to 1778 — it was there he developed and acted upon his most influential revolutionary ideas, including his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.
While touring the house, you’ll learn about the life and legacy of Patrick Henry. Like many of the house museums I’ve recently toured lately, this one also is more interactive, asking visitors to engage with the other visitors on the tour to discuss Henry’s ideals of liberty, human rights and revolution, and the ways those ideas influence us today.
Getting there: 16120 Chiswell Ln, Beaverdam, VA 23015
Hours: March 1 through December 29, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Hanover Courthouse and Hanover Tavern
Henry started his public career at the Hanover Courthouse, and that’s where he argued the famous Parson’s Cause case at Hanover Courthouse in 1763. In continuous use since its construction in the early 1740s the courthouse has survived damage from both the American Revolution and the Civil War. The courthouse dates back to about 1740 and is one of the oldest in Virginia.
Hanover Tavern originally served as an overnight stop on the stagecoach route between areas to the north and Richmond and Williamsburg during Colonial times. Visitors to the original Hanover Tavern included a who’s who of colonial America: George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Lord Cornwallis, who surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. Patrick Henry lived at the Tavern for several years after his marriage to the daughter of the Tavern’s owners.
Hours: By appointment.
The Polegreen Church, also known as the Hanover Meeting House, is the site of what may be the first non-Anglican church in Virginia. It was named after a 17th-century landowner, George Polegreen.
Pennsylvania Presbyterian missionary Samuel Davies, one of the first non-Anglican ministers licensed in Virginia, evangelized in Hanover County and used this as his base from 1743 to 1759. Patrick Henry attended services here with his mother, and credited Davies for his oratorical skills.
An open-air design of steel beams painted white to show the historic structure’s former dimensions has been erected at the site, along with a visitor center and signage concerning religious persecution and freedom.
Getting there: 6411 Heatherwood Dr, Mechanicsville, VA 23116
Hours: Dawn through dusk