The author, Nicole Cohen, does some shopping at Governor's Antiques. (Photo by Monica Escamilla)
I grew up in Mechanicsville and I still remember when Bell Creek Road was nothing but an empty field. Today, there are rows of shopping centers. Over the years, I’ve had a front-row seat to the area's transformation — and noticeable increase in traffic.
That growth has transformed what insiders refer to as the “Ville” into a mesh of rural country homes and modern residential neighborhoods just 7 miles northeast of Richmond. While I’ve lived in other parts of the region, I recently returned to the “Ville” with the purchase of my first home.
Hanover Tavern's visitors have included George Washington. (Photo by Monica Escamilla)
Hanover Tavern on Route 301 is one of only a handful of Colonial-era taverns still standing in the United States and has had famous visitors including George Washington, Lord Cornwallis and the Marquis de Lafayette. Today, the tavern is a great place to catch dinner and a live show from the Virginia Repertory Theatre. Across the street is the Historic Hanover Courthouse where Patrick Henry in 1763 argued the Parson’s Cause case, the famous challenge to royal authority believed to have sparked the American Revolution.
One of the more recognizable and intriguing structures is Historic Polegreen Church. Built in 1775, it was one of the first churches founded by Anglican dissenters, but was burned during the Civil War. Today, what stands is an interpretive design of the original church structure based on drawings from a Union soldier.
Iconic Spot: Welcoming residents and visitors alike to town, the stone windmill located in the area known as “old Mechanicsville” was built in 1974 and serves as a landmark for the “Ville.” It actually runs on an electric motor and was renovated in 2007 by the current resident, EVB bank. (Photo by Monica Escamilla)
For outdoor fun, Mechanicsville has several outdoor parks and battlefield trails. A playground and recreational fields are the central attraction of Hanover Wayside Park, but be sure to check out the Hanover Veterans Memorial there, too. Pole Green Park has a skate park where you can channel your inner Tony Hawk, not to mention an equestrian ring with stables, volleyball courts, fields, trails that run through the woods, a playground and more. Make sure you come back in July for the Hanover Tomato Festival, when the county celebrates its famous fruit.
Rutland offers single-family houses and townhomes. (Photo by Monica Escamilla)
Mechanicsville offers both rural and suburban living. Older neighborhoods include Bell Creek Estates, Cherrydale and High Point Farms. Newer neighborhoods such as Rutland have single-family homes and townhomes located adjacent to Rutland Commons, where a Kroger Marketplace opened in 2014. The Bluffs at Bell Creek is an age-restricted community of newly designed one-floor homes located near I-295 at Pole Green Road.
Bell Cafe serves down-home classics. (Photo by Monica Escamilla)
Pad Thai off of Meadowbridge Road is located in an old train station where cargo trains still pass by. Bell Café offers down-home classics such as meatloaf and chicken and waffles. Grab some Carolina- and Virginia-style pulled pork barbecue from Carter’s Pigpen Bar-B-Que on Cold Harbor Road. Feel like you’re stepping into a western saloon at Marty’s Grill and start your meal with the fried mac ‘n’ cheese. And check out Brewville next door, offering a mix of local, national and international craft brews to-go.
Antique shopping is a must in Mechanicsville. The 47-year-old Governor’s Antiques located off of Pole Green Road features more than 6 acres and 6 million items. Explore Cold Harbor Antiques Mall and Mixie’s Antiques and Collectibles, both on Mechanicsville Turnpike. Through the Garden Gate houses more than 20,000 square feet of shopping on Route 301. And for fresh edibles, don’t miss Pole Green Produce, especially when you’re looking for those ripe Hanover tomatoes.