In 1935 Mr. B. D. Riegel purchased a herd of Guernsey cattle and began operating a modern, well-equipped dairy in Trion, Georgia. The products from this dairy were sold in Trion and the surrounding areas. The Guernsey cattle were of the finest stock and the dairy products of the highest quality. In order to make these products available to anyone wishing to purchase them, including any tourists, who might be traveling through Trion, Mr. G. H. Emory, son-in-law of Mr. Riegel, suggested to Mr. Riegel that he build directly in front of the dairy barn a simple but attractive stone roadside stand from which these products could be sold.
The ideas appealed to Mr. Riegel. In 1936 he engaged the services of an outstanding building architect, Mr. Clarence T Jones of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to draw plans for a building. Legend has it that Mr. Riegel wanted to incorporate an eating place in the building and that the architect suffested the present Tavern design – such design resembling that of a tavern Mr. Jones had seen on one of his trips to England and the Continent. Whether this is true or not, drawing were completed on June 22, 1936 and turned over to the construction engineer, Mr. L. C. “Sadd” Dalton to begin construction.
In keeping with the design of the building, ordinary construction materials could not be used to obtain the desired finished results. Kiln-run bricks (bricks which are rough) were purchased from the Dalton Brick & Tile Company in Dalton, Georgia. The roof of the building is made from handmade slate shingles which Mr. Dalton located at the Melvin Hood Company in Daisy, Tennessee. These shingles had been stacked back for a number of years and Mr. Dalton purchased these for 18 cents each. The floors are oak in random lengths, random widths and are all walnut pegged. The flooring was purchased from Bruce Floor Company Memphis, Tennessee. The windows are made of blown glass. All woodwork was furnished by Willingham & Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Light fixtures, hinges, and table lamps were handmade by the Standard Iron Works of Chattanooga. Furniture was purchased from the Old Hickory Furniture Company, Hickory, N.C. The big trusses were made in Chattanooga. These were made in two sections and, of course, had to be hoisted in the two sections as well. Stone for the porches came from Cloudland, Georgia. The stone in the gardens came from Taylor Ridge, east of LaFayette.
Mr. Dalton estimates construction started around the middle of July, 1936. Mr. Riegel had planned a Guernsey Field Day, which was scheduled for approximately six weeks after construction began. He asked Mr. Dalton if this building could be completed in time for the Field Day. Mr. Dalton says work went on all day and most of the night, but the Tavern was finished in approximately six weeks. This did not include the gardens.
The gardens were started in the fall of 1936 and completed in the spring of 1937. The landscape architect who landscaped the grounds of Mr. Riegel’s home in Connecticut, Mr. Armand Rhodes Tibbitts of Greenwich, Connecticut, designed the gardens at the Tavern. The gardens featured large beds of tulips, the finest varieties of shrubs, and a great number of boxwoods. The boxwood was located in the South at Cartersville, Ne Holland, Chattoogaville, Rome, and at the old Knox
Place near Menlo, Georgia and at Centre, Alabama. Mr. Dalton remembers that some of the boxwood from Chattoogavillewere so large the balls were 3’x6’x3’ and several weighed as much as 5,000 pounds. Some of the boxwood were very old, and today would be between 150 and 175 years old. These old plants were so large that great amounts of earth had to be taken in order not to disturb the root system. They could not be loaded manually but had to be handled by machinery for transportation on flatbeds to the Tavern gardens. The magnolia, crepe myrtle, and fine shrubs were purchased from the Towson Nurseries, Towson, Maryland.
The cost of construction of the Tavern building was, in round figures $32,000 and the cost of the gardens was $36,000.
The building and the gardens still stand today. The Tavern provides a beautiful venue for a variety of events.