The Wilderness Road Regional Museum, a two-story building located about a mile from Interstate 81 in the heart of Newbern, Virginia, has been owned and operated by the New River Historical Society since April 16, 1980. Originally, the museum building had been two separate homes that belonged to the Hance-Alexander family, and these two homes served dual purposes as residences and businesses for several years. Some of these business establishments included a tavern, general store, and the first Newbern post office.
Built sometime between 1806 and 1812, Henry Hance’s log house is the oldest room in the Wilderness Road Regional Museum. In 1817, Newbern’s founder Adam Hance built his frame house next to Henry’s. Throughout the years, the homes were connected and expanded by the Hance-Alexander family, allowing for a great museum site. Final additions were made to the house between 1843 and 1846, including the room that now serves as the Wilderness Road Regional Museum’s Book Store and Gift Shop, which offers books focusing on local and regional history. The second story was raised, and a staircase was built in the northeast end of the Jabin Alexander Room that now serves as the museum’s reception room. Jabin Alexander married Henry Hance’s daughter, Virginia, and they are thought to have used this room and the second floor as an apartment. Alexander’s picture currently hangs in this reception room named in his honor.
At the top of the stairs on the second floor, the Virginia Room now serves as the museum’s archives and library of historical and genealogical books and documents. On the six acres of museum grounds, a detached kitchen building, granary, loom house, and barn offer more glimpses into the lives of those that lived along the main migration route west. Visitors are welcome during the museum’s hours of operation to witness first-hand the Wilderness Road Regional Museum’s display of local historical pride.