About the Inn
The Essex Inn was built in 1851 by Dr. Lawrence Roane and is an imposing Greek-Revival style structure of white stucco over brick atop a high English basement. The home has twelve original rooms, each with its own fireplace, surrounding large central hallways on each floor. The front & back porches are original, with fluted columns also in the Greek style. Inside, original heart-of-pine hardwood floors can be found throughout the first and second floors. A two-story brick structure behind the main house was built in the 1840's as servants' quarters and housed the property's original kitchen and laundry. The fireplace and hearth in each of these rooms has been preserved, including the old swinging iron bar used to hang pots over the fire. The home has a rich history. It is rumored that during the Civil War, when Union forces were firing on Tappahannock from the Rappahannock River, a young man climbed one of the chimneys and fastened a white bedsheet to signal neutrality, saving the home from the bombardment. In April of 1862, Union gunboats destroyed a Confederate fort on the Rappahannock, just south of Tappahannock. Union troops occupied the home for about a month. In June of 1864, the home was again occupied by Union forces during Draper's Raid and would be held until after the end of the war, when it was occupied by Dr. Roane's son, Captain Lawrence Roane, Jr., of the Confederate 55th Infantry. The property changed hands many times over the following years, but remained a private residence until when it underwent significant renovations and opened as the Essex Inn.
Owner Janet Cummins has been living at the Inn fulltime since May 1st, 2019, when she and her husband wrapped up their lives in Northern Virginia and made the move to Tappahannock. They fell in love with the Essex Inn last year, and decided this was the place they were looking for to fulfill their dream of running a Bed and Breakfast after their retirement. They shared a love of cooking and having guests in their home, so this was a natural extension of their interests. Jeff’s sudden death in June was a setback, but Janet is carrying the dream forward on her own. She is helped out on a daily basis by her rescue dog, Copeland, who is happy to greet guests when he can! She enjoys the hospitality of the people she has gotten to know in the town of Tappahannock, and invites people to come and relax in the peace and quiet of this beautiful area.