Great Falls Historical Society (VA) Photographs - Dickeys Inn at Matildaville

Dickeys Inn at Matildaville -- For about 165 years this inn stood near the Great Falls, an original part of the vanished canal town of Matildaville, established in 1790. This picture was taken in the early 1900s; the tavern burned in 1950. Photos from GFHS collection.

Dickey's Inn, named after the last family that ran it until it closed in 1935, is believed to be the same building in Matildaville owned and operated by the widow Meyers in 1802, and built even earlier. Meyers Tavern was a place of refreshment for canal boat runners and visitors. Reputedly, U.S. presidents from George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt ate in this whitewashed building.

Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, leased 400-500 acres of land along the Potomac from the mouth of Difficult Run in 1793 from George Washington's friend, (the then Reverend) Bryan Fairfax. On forty acres of this land, in 1790, the town of Matildaville was established. Lee named the promising town after his lovely young wife, Matilda Lee, who had recently died.

The town of Matildaville was neatly laid out in one-half acre lots. The two main streets parallel to the canal were Canal Street and Washington Street. The town had quarters for workers, a two-story superintendent's house, a market house, a sawmill, a gristmill, an ironworks, among other structures. In 1839 the Virginia Legislature disestablished the town, after the canal was abandoned in 1830.

The newly built C & O Canal across the river had bought the assets of the Patowmack Canal Company and was now the waterway to Cumberland. Matildaville was a destination for tireless ex-President Washington, arriving on horseback, surveying the work on the canal, tying up his mount, and seeking out the superintendent to confer with him on the progress of his cherished project at the Great Falls of the Potomac that we visit today.

The caption reads, "Dickey's Farm House at Great Falls, Va.
where noted men have dined when on fishing outings, near Washington, D.C."

This photo of the Inn appeared on one of the early penny postcards.