In 1878, the Good Templars of Loudoun County held the first annual "bush meeting;" a 3 day event billed as a "Grand Temperance Bush Meeting." The Templers stood on open-air stands amidst the great oak trees, to address crowds that numbered thousands.
The tabernacle was subsequently constructed in 1903, and it was the largest building in Loudoun County until Dulles airport was constructed. The Tabernacle was originally built as an auditorium with a dirt floor, with sliding doors on seven sides to maximize viewing capacity from the outside.
A newspaper article now hanging inside the Tabernacle, dated August 13, 1931, states the subject of the Rev. Billy Sunday's message at the Temperance Meeting will be “Crooks, Corkscrews, Booze, Bootleggers, and Whiskey Politicians-They Shall Not Pass.” The article goes on to say that the famous preacher employed “vigor, colorful words, expressions that might at times be described as sulphuric, pounding fists and stomping feet, leaping off and about the rostrum, and hurling chairs” to drive his message home.
The contents of this page are paraphrased from the "Northern Virginia History Notes." Press here to obtain the original text.
The Town of Purcellville purchased the Tabernacle in 2008. They completely renovated it, restored it to its former grandeaur, and obtained certification as a National Historic Landamark. With over 50,000 visitors a year, the Tabernacle is once again the hub of cultural, educational, and entertainment activties in the area.
And in case you're wondering, now that the prohibitione era has ended, alcohol is allowed for private events. Cheers.
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