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Francis Land House hosts new special exhibit beginning November 16

(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA) Virginians imbibed their last legal drink on Halloween night in 1916- more than three years before national prohibition was enacted. One hundred and one years later, the Francis Land House hosts a new special exhibit from the Library of Virginia that tells the story of Virginia prohibition and its legacy.

Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled opens on November 16, 2017, and runs through December 17, 2017 at the Francis Land House, and this exhibit is included in your Francis Land House admission.

Newspapers reported bacchanalian scenes in the Old Dominion cities as "wets" drank up and bought out the stock of saloons and bars. Most of the state's liquor, beer, and wine producers quietly shut down. Many farmers worried that a major part of their livelihood from corn and fruit had disappeared overnight, while supporters of prohibition exulted in the promise of a morally upright "Dry Virginia." For the next 18 years, the state became a laboratory for a grand social experiment that ultimately left many Virginians with a serious hangover- and eventually led to a repeal.

Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled addresses the important and long-lasting effects of Prohibition on Virginia and America, including:

  • The prohibition movement as part of a social reform movement
  • The economic and social costs of Prohibition, including the closing of businesses and conflict within communities, and the rise of illegal alcohol production and sale as an underground culture and economy
  • The role of government in overseeing public health
  • Prohibition's legacy: from NASCAR to the creation of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to the rise of the modern brewing and distilling industry

Teetotalers & Moonshiners uses the Library's deep and compelling collections on this era, from humorous sheet music mocking the absurdities of prohibition to blazing headlines in anti- and pro-liquor newspapers and broadsides. At the core of the story are the records of the state's Prohibition Commission, which record the daily activities of its agents. A digital interactive component documents statewide prohibition trends and tells the personal stories of commission agents, bootleggers, and moonshiners.

The exhibition is supported in part by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association. The Virginia Distillers Association provided support for the traveling exhibition.