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Commonwealth Club Historic District

Commonwealth Club

Commonwealth Club
Virginia Commonwelth University Libraries

Commonwealth Club Historic District is the site of one of the best-preserved groups of turn of the century upper-class town houses in Richmond’s downtown and the distinguished Commonwealth Club.  The small district is one in a string of National Register listed districts and individual properties between Capitol Square and Monument Avenue.  The centerpiece of the district is the Commonwealth Club Building at 401 West Franklin Street.  The noted New York firm of Carrere and Hastings designed this private men’s club prior to working on Richmond’s Jefferson Hotel.  The building dates from 1891 and has the scale and form of an urban mansion.  Its terra cotta, brownstone, and pressed brick façade is one of the first examples of the Colonial Revival style in Richmond.  

The balance of the district consists of single-family homes of comparable architectural quality to the Commonwealth Club, however, instead of urban mansions these are town houses on narrow urban lots.  The buildings are in the Italianate, Romanesque, and Neoclassical styles popular in the last quarter of the 19th century.  They possess beautifully designed façades ornamented with brownstone, pressed brick, and terra cotta.  The buildings have small front yards, some demarcated by historic cast iron fences.

The Commonwealth Club Historic District represents some of Richmond’s finest residential architecture from the city’s gilded age.  Prominent citizens such as Adolph Osterloh, the Austro-Hungarian Consul in Richmond, lived in the houses.  The Commonwealth Club remains one of Richmond’s most venerable private institutions.  Most of the other buildings in the district are preserved and adaptively reused as apartments or offices.

Plan your visit

Commonwealth Club Historic District includes 319-415 and 400-500 W. Franklin St. The district is accessible from the Downtown Expressway, Interstate 64, and Interstate 95 by the Belvidere exits of those highways. The now demolished house at 400 West Franklin St.  within the boundaries of the district has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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