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A Rich History

The site at 132 North Sycamore Street dates back to 1784 where Armistead's tavern stood. One third of the tobacco exported from North America flowed through it, according to George Washington. Washington came to Petersburg to visit, during his famous Southern trip--he spent the night at Armistead's & was feted there. From 1790 until 1797, the town's council and courts met here on a regular basis. Early in the 19th century, the tavern became Powell's Tavern, burned and was rebuilt several times, and was, in its last iteration as Powell's Hotel. The Ironfront Building was completed during the first year or two of the Civil War. It was four tall stories like the present building, but consisted of a row of five buildings. The tallest building in town, its roof was used by many people to watch the drama of the battles during the Siege. The Confederate Signal Corps had a permanent installation on it. Like many other buildings along Sycamore Street , it was struck by numerous Union artillery shells during the Siege. In 1889, the entire area to the corner of Tabb, was obliterated by fire. The Rosenstock family constructed the building following the fire of 1889, which became Rucker Rosenstock's Department store, and later Butterworth's Furniture Store.
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