Since 2012, FOWNS has taken on the mission to ensure the Ware Neck Store and Post Office not only survives, but also thrives, for future generations by preserving the building and maintaining a strong presence in Ware Neck though outreach, education and community activities. FOWNS leases the first floor of the building to Nuttall Store and the U. S. Post Office.
The history of the Ware Neck Store and Post Office began in 1876 when the heirs of J. H. Tabb sold a nine-acre portion of his Back Creek Estate to Arthur W. Tabb. Back Creek estate was more than 450 acres in size, but was significantly subdivided following the Civil War with a large portion of the property bordering the Ware Neck Store lot sold to former slaves, documenting the transformation of a local African-American community, and signifying the tremendous changes in land patterns and economy of post-bellum Virginia.
The land Arthur Tabb purchased occupied a strategic intersection at the corner of Dunham Massie Lane (Rt. 692) (leading to a large historic property) and Hockley Wharf Lane, leading to the most important steamboat landing on Ware Neck. Taking advantage of these qualities, Arthur Tabb built his store in 1877. Goods were offloaded at the wharf and transported the half-mile to the store by horse and wagon.
Tabb operated the store until 1884, when brothers Richard P. and H.E. Taliaferro purchased the 9 ó acre parcel. In 1886 the Taliaferros established the Ware Neck Post Office in their store. Richard P. Taliaferro served as postmaster from 1886 until 1897, In 1902, R.P. and H.E. Taliaferro divided the 8.1-acre property between themselves, with R.P. retaining the store and majority of the property. In 1919 Taliaferro sold 6.33 acres, retaining just 1.17 acres around the store.
In 1928, R.P. Taliaferro willed the property to his wife, Fannie Johnson Taliaferro, who then sold the acreage to her son, J.E. Taliaferro. J. Earl Taliaferro rented the store to a number of tenants, including Joe Brown, Guy Smith and Charlie Robins. In October 1946, J.E. Taliaferro and his wife, Elizabeth, sold 3.5 acres to E. Rudolph Nuttall. ‘Rudy’ Nuttall operated the store for more than 50 years, maintaining its essential function as a neighborhood store and gathering place. The tenure of Rudy Nuttall at the store is fondly remembered by many local citizens, as this was one of main community gathering areas within Ware Neck.
On March 18, 2002, E. Rudolph Nuttall sold the property and United States Postal Service lease to Blair Fairinholt. Over the next several years the property passed through several entities. In 2007, Ware Neck Residents who cared deeply about the building and the store formed two limited liability (LLC) companies:
• Nuttall Store, LLC to acquire the assets belonging to the store (e.g., staff, inventory, and permits)
• Ware Neck Preservation Co (WNPC) to acquire the building, land and Post Office lease.
In 2009, WNPC nominated the building for historic registration. The Ware Neck Store and Post Office was placed on the National and Virginia State Registers of Historic Places on June 3, 2009.
Friends of the Ware Neck Store (FOWNS) was formed in 2011 as a501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. WNPC then donated the building, land, and the Post Office and Nuttall Store leases to FOWNS. FOWNS leases space in the building to Nuttall Store, LLC and other clients.
For the past decade, these actions have proven to have been well worthwhile:
• Nuttall Store is thriving!
• The post office continues to serve the Ware Neck community.
• FOWNS remains focused on maintaining and preserving the building, modernizing the infrastructure, and community outreach.
Projects FOWNS has implemented over the past decade include:
• Installation of an emergency generator
• Installation of mini-split air conditioner units
• Several projects to modernize/upgrade the kitchen/deli area
• Installation of a water treatment/softener system
• Installation of a modern code-compliant septic system designed for the increased usage of the building
• Expansion of the kitchen into what was the garage
Future FOWNS projects include restoring the east side of building siding and build-out of the “Back Room”.