Draffen's Tavern
    by Erin Hernon

Draffen’s was a tavern located “on the road between the University and Charlottesville,” which is presumably University Road. Thomas Draffen, whose brother John was a law student during the 1827-1828 school year, owned the tavern. In fact, John boarded at the tavern instead of in a hotel like the rest of the students. Since John was half-proprietor, the faculty was suspicious that he might have an interest in getting students to patronize the establishment. When questioned, he told the faculty that he never brought students there for entertainment or drinking. It is unusual that a student was a partial proprietor of a tavern while enrolled because the Enactments forbade students from entering taverns without explicit faculty permission. He ultimately empowered the faculty to determine whether or not he could keep his proprietorship while still enrolled as a student.


The following year John was no longer enrolled in school, but the faculty became suspicious about a secret barroom in the basement at Draffen’s. The Chairman, Robley Dunglison, wrote to the Proctor asking him to investigate and pursue legal action if necessary. The Proctor at the time, Arthur Brockenbrough, found that Thomas Draffen had “obtained license as Tavern Keeper and has…a right to fit up a bar-room in any part of the house to supply persons with drink of any sort.” The presence of a bar in Draffen’s, though not illegal, meant students were barred without faculty permission. 


Gray, Ormando Willis. Charlottesville, Virginia. Map. Philadelphia: O.W. Gray & Son, 1877. From Old Maps Online, David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. http://www.oldmapsonline.org/map/rumsey/3888.082. University of Virginia. Faculty Minutes, Session 4. University of Virginia. Journal of the Chairman of the Faculty, Sessions 4, 5.