Fort Nonsense

VA-14/John Clayton Memorial Hwy. at the intersection of VA-3.

Built in 1861 and known as “Fort Nonsense”, this fort was also identified as “Smart’s Mill/North End Mill Fortification”. On the site there is a park area with trails leading through the trees and over the earthen remains of the old Fort.

There are a number of informational posters that tell some of the history of the area and Fort Nonsense.

Gwynn’s Island Museum

1775 Old Ferry Rd.

Gwynn 725-5022

This museum features the 22,000 year old “Cinmar Blade” discovery - the oldest man-made stone tool found in America. This two-edged butcher knife and part of the remains of a 30 year old mastodon were dredged from 240 foot deep waters of the Atlantic by Mathews County waterman Thurston Shawn in 1970. Visit to see this Smithsonian prepared exhibit.

Two new exhibits are on display. They are a step-back china cabinet and a secretary both made in the 1830s by Mathews County cabinet maker, Jessie Hudgins of Horn Harbor. These pieces have stayed in the family and survived the Civil War and many moves until coming back home to Mathews.

You will also find stories and pictures of brave men and women who served in the armed services and merchant marines; the story of John Warren Cooke voting to keep Virginia schools open during turbulent times; stories of our early-day churches; the story of Gilbert Klingel, steel boat builder, naturalist author and underwater explorer; the tableau of the legend of Col. Hugh Gwynn and Pocahontas; extensive history of Captain John Smith exploring Chesapeake Bay; history of African Americans living on Gwynn’s Island; a large collection of Native American artifacts; a diorama showing General Andrew Lewis driving Lord Dunmore from Gwynn’s Island in 1776; and stories and displays from earlier day living on Gwynn’s Island.

The museum is open Apr. through Oct. each Fri., Sat. and Sun. from 1-5 p.m. There is a research library and gift shop. Admission is free. Donations welcome.

Mathews Maritime Museum

482 Main Street

Mathews 725-4444

The museum features memorabilia, artifacts, documents, photos, models, and many memories of time gone by. Long a boat building area of note, Mathews additionally has had its share of local watermen, menhaden fishermen, merchant mariners, US Navy sailors, fish packing houses, boat repair facilities, and marinas. The museum honors the past and works to educate the future about maritime history.

The museum is staffed by volunteers, generally on Fri. and Sat. from Apr.–Nov. from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., or by request for groups. If the “open” flag is flying, you’re invited inside.

Thomas James Store

239 Main St.

Mathews 725-4229

The 1815 Thomas James Store is an excellent and rare example of an early rural, commercial building. It is a one-story vernacular A-frame wood structure located behind the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center on Main Street and has been conserved by Mathews County Historical Society. It retains most of its original fabric and is remarkably well-preserved.

Tours are self-guided with interpretive signage, touch-screen information and non-intrusive lighting highlighting historical features.

Open during favorable temperatures when the visitor center is open.

Tompkins Cottage

43 Brickbat Rd.

Mathews 725-3487

Near the historic Mathews courthouse is a typical tidewater cottage of the early 1800s. It houses a museum and headquarters of the Mathews County Historical Society.

One of the oldest wooden structures in Mathews Court House, it was owned by Christopher Tompkins, a prominent local planter, merchant, sea captain and ship owner/builder.

The museum houses a permanent exhibit of Mathews history including information on Capt. Sally Tompkins, CSA, the first woman to be commissioned an officer in the American army.

Admission is free. Open Fri. and Sat. from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. through Oct.