Couple transforms tavern into retreat

Published 5:41 pm Friday, September 11, 2020

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Three years ago, Dave and Debbie Sanders purchased what was once known as Harvey’s Tavern in Madisonville along Highway 47. Today, the couple is working to make the tavern and its land into space to offer ministry leaders quiet and solitude.

With it now known as The Shepherd’s Tavern, the Sanders plan to build three to five small cabins on the property.

“Each cabin is designed to be around 240 square feet (think the size of a basic hotel room),” Dave said. “They will provide a bedroom, bathroom and sitting area/desk space for study, and we also hope to have a porch for relaxing and enjoying nature.”

The Sanders said their goal is to have a restful place for pastors and missionaries to read, pray and be restored by getting away from ministry demands.

“We find the generally quiet and natural beauty of Charlotte County to be ideal for inviting ‘spiritual first responders’ into a peaceful location to restore their soul,” the Sanders said. “The natural setting and our development of over 1.5 miles of paths and wooded trails add to the serenity. What better place to offer this kind of hospitality than the property that has housed a historic tavern?”

The couple said it is their desire to honor the land and community’s history and its origin as Col. Harvey’s Tavern.

“He built the tavern and the store across the street, which is noted in the historical information on Charlotte County as significant to the population and development of the county,” Debbie said. “Since taverns offer hospitality, you can see the wonderful connection of providing hospitality to weary missionaries and pastors.”

The historical Harvey’s Tavern was built by Col. Isham Harvey. This original pre-Civil War tavern was a presumed stop-in by Patrick Henry on his way to Charlotte Court House.

According to the Sanders, as a nonprofit, they are receiving support from people worldwide and locally who want to invest in what they are labeling Charlotte County’s first retreat location.

“In addition, we have had work teams come to provide physical labor for the property, and we absolutely welcome partnering with local people, churches and businesses in building this vision,” the Sanders said. “We need lots of help and prayers.”

For more information on The Shepherd’s Tavern, visit