Abingdon Educational Itinerary

Abingdon, Virginia has long been a center for culture and commerce, known for its Historic District, the Barter Theatre and affinity for the arts. Groups can see the past as well as the present and both the performing and visual arts. Abingdon traces its modern roots to 1750 when Dr. Thomas Walker, granted over 6,000 acres of land by King George II, explored Southwest Virginia. Joseph Black, purchased some of the land from Dr. Walker, settled on it and built a small fort. The area became known as “Black’s Fort”. In 1776, Washington County was established in honor of General George Washington and Black’s Fort became the meeting place for the first county court. Dr. Walker, Joseph Black and Samuel Briggs donated 120 acres of land to be used to establish a town. In 1778, the Virginia Assembly passed an act to incorporate the new town, naming it Abingdon. The first English speaking settlement west of the Blue Ridge, Abingdon became a major distribution point for mail and supplies on “The Great Road West”. Barter Theatre was established in 1933 by Abingdon native Robert Porterfield. The theatre was established during the Great Depression, allowing folks to barter produce and livestock for performances. “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.” Barter launched the careers of such notable actors as Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Ned Beatty and Patricia Neal. Barter offers educational tools to help further engage your students – games, study guides, backstage tours and talkbacks with the cast. Today, Barter is a professional theatre that offers a variety of shows each season. Please visit their website at www.bartertheatre.com to see all they have to offer you and your students. The Tavern, built in 1779, is the oldest building in Abingdon. It was originally built as a tavern and overnight inn, and served as Abingdon’s first post office. The third floor served as a hospital during the Civil War, bed markings remain on the walls.