Lucas Tavern and the Federal Road played very important roles in the settling of Alabama in the early 19th century. Built sometime prior to 1818, Lucas Tavern is the oldest of our buildings and was originally located about 15 miles east of Montgomery on the Federal Road at Line Creek, today known as Waugh. Taverns such as this were located about every 15 miles, a good day’s walking distance, along the Federal Road, which was an important link between Washington D.C. and New Orleans. These taverns provided food, drink, shelter, and information to travelers, many of whom were traveling to the Alabama Territory after the federal government opened it up for settlement following the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. Many of these pioneers came with the intention of growing cotton.
Walter and Eliza Lucas acquired the tavern around 1820. On April 25, 1825, the Marquis de La Fayette, the French hero of the Revolutionary War, spent the night at Lucas Tavern when he and his entourage realized they would not make it to their destination of Montgomery by dark. Invited by the United States to be a guest of the Nation, his tour of 25 states was in honor of his service during the Revolutionary War.
Walter also had a store and gin at Line Creek but continued to operate the Tavern with Eliza until 1842 when travel along the Federal Road had decreased due to the development of other roads. The Lucases eventually left Alabama caught up in the westward movement.
When the Lucases moved into the tavern, it was a two room dogtrot with an open hallway. Later, two more shed rooms were added, and the dogtrot was enclosed. One of the added rooms was a dining room with an exit to the outside, which allowed Eliza to serve meals to her guests from the nearby kitchen site. Despite the building being later used as a residence, then storage, and eventually abandoned, much of the interior of Lucas Tavern is still original.
Join scheduled Ordeman-Mitchell-Shaw House guided tours at Lucas Tavern.