Hampton’s Teetotalers and Moonshiners

New history museum exhibit explores Prohibition era in Hampton

by | Mar 1, 2023

Photo COurtesy of Hampton History Museum

While most of us are familiar with the rise and fall of Prohibition in the United States, which began following the passage of the 18th Amendment outlawing alcohol between 1920 and 1933, a new exhibit at the Hampton History Museum offers a fascinating exploration of its effects on one local community. “Rich with artifacts, this engaging exhibit explores Hampton’s long, complicated and sometimes turbulent relationship with alcohol leading up to Virginia’s Prohibition experiment,” read a recent press release. The exhibit, titled Teetotalers and Moonshiners, and Hampton’s Prohibition Story, will be on view through February 2024.

In an era when the saloon culture of the Phoebus neighborhood had earned it the nickname “Little Chicago,” the Virginia General Assembly enacted the Virginia Prohibition Act on March 10, 1915, which went into effect at the stroke of midnight on November 1, 1916. Tensions brewed between business owners, many of them African Americans, local community members and those charged with enforcing the new laws. The Museum’s exhibit includes dozens of photographs; numerous bottles, jugs and other containers; games, smoking accoutrements, beverage dispensers, signs and materials of saloon culture; service ware, promotional items and memorabilia from Point Comfort resorts and more.

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