Short Pump Tavern

Short Pump Tavern

The famed Short Pump Tavern was located at the present day Broad Street entrance to Wal-Mart.
The famed Short Pump Tavern was located at the present day Broad Street entrance to Wal-Mart.

Pinpointing The Tavern’s Exact Location

Discovering exactly where the tavern was located proved to be very difficult indeed. The roads have changed remarkably since the tavern’s time. Three Chopt Road was the main stagecoach route between Richmond and Charlottesville, and being the predecessor of Broad Street, ran generally the same route as Broad does today except wound around more. Pouncey Tract Road intersected Three Chopt at a different angle than it does now with Broad. Also, Pump Road did not meet up with Pouncey Tract. The animation below depicts just how the route of Three Chopt wound through Short Pump and shows the location of the tavern in relation to new development in the area. The tavern would have been almost exactly where the entrance to Wal-Mart off of West Broad Street now is. A newer dwelling was constructed to the left of the tavern and is pictured in the image (taken in 1932) at the left. Below you’ll find a picture of the same dwelling taken in 1987 that shows the structure in terrible disrepair and proves the location of the tavern structure.

Road Alignment Notes

  • West Broad Street was not in existence west of the tavern, it ended at Three Chopt Road (road below and to the right of the tavern) and was known as Deep Run Turnpike and later Richmond Turnpike Road before Broad Street.
  • Pouncey Tract Road (to the left and above the tavern) didn’t curve as it approached the present Broad Street as pictured. It kept straight and intersected Three Chopt Road (road below Broad forming a triangle). – Pump Road was originally named Short Pump Road and was an access route to the tavern from the south, connecting to Church and Gayton Roads, both heavily traveled because of their proximity to the Gayton Coal Mines.
This insurance policy taken out on the tavern showed the structure was expanded significantly after the time that the picture at the top of the page was taken.

Public Records Tell All

Robert Hyde Saunders constructed the tavern in 1815 and insured it with Virginia Mutual Insurance Company. The policy document also shows a larger house which was constructed after the original tavern building, plus a stable and a kitchen house. The house doesn’t appear to be much larger than the tavern, and judging by the size of the structure, the house wasn’t very big at all. The stable was the next smallest building at 20 feet square. The kitchen building was 18 feet square. Three Chopt Road is described as the “Main road at the head of the Richmond Turnpike.” The tavern and house appear to have been right on the road.

At The Crossroads

As you can see on this plat showing the original roads, Short Pump Tavern was at the crossroads of Richmond Turnpike Road (now Broad), Three Notched Road (Three Chopt), and Pouncey’s Track (now Pouncey Tract) Road.

Robert Saunders’ land extended northward from Three Chopt back past the present locations of Interstate 64 and the Twin Hickory development. He owned possibly a thousand acres or more, according to records obtained at the Library of Virginia.

In this land plat, he appears to be dividing up portions of his land and selling them to various other people in the area or in his family.

The location of the tavern can be proved by comparing older and newer pictures. Note that the house to the left of the tavern is the same house in the bottom picture, but in poor shape. The tavern has been dismantled by the time this picture was taken (1987), but there's no mistaking this was its location.

More Recent Pictures Prove Location

The house pictured above was at one time the home of the Childress Family, former owners and operators of Short Pump Grocery, directly across the street. The Broad Street entrance to Wal-Mart now passes directly to the right of the site of this house. The picture to the right shows the tavern with an adjacent house to the left (highlighted with a red box). It’s safe to say this is the same house (just in much better shape) and it proves the tavern’s location most definitely. The red arrow shows the approximate location of the tavern, if it were still standing when this picture was taken (1987). There’s also a good picture of the remains of the tavern and actual pump on the Short Pump History page.