Colonial Heights: Violet Bank

Front Facade of Violet Bank

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Violet Bank sits on lands that were originally patented to Edward Turnstall in 1637. In 1665, George Archer purchased the property. It was at that time that the property, located on the opposite side of the river bank from Petersburg, came to be called Archer's Hill. Thomas Shore, the first owner of Violet Bank, purchased 144 acres of land from John Martin in 1775. It is uncertain the origin of the name Violet Bank, but it is believed that the name came from a thick growth of violets on the hillside. Another theory is that it is an illusion to a quote from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Shore is believed to have had a set of Shakepeare's works at Violet Bank.

 It is uncertain the origin of the name Violet Bank, but it is believed that the name came from a thick growth of violets on the hillside. Another theory is that it is an illusion to a quote from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Shore is believed to have had a set of Shakepeare's works at Violet Bank.

The first house Shore built burned to the ground in 1810 and the existing structure was rebuilt by his widow Jane Grey and her husabnd, Henry Haxall. Grey and Haxall married in 1804 after Shore died. The existing home was completed in 1815. Elizabeth Shore, the eldest daughter of Shore and Grey, inherited the property in 1824.

From June through November 1864, General Robert E. Lee used Violet Bank as his headquarters. It was at Violet Bank that General Lee first learned of the explosion that was set by Union forces and claimed the lives of 300 Confederate soldiers. Following the Civil War, Violet Bank was subdivided repeatedly until it was reduced to a single lot in 1919. The house served as the Colonial Heights Post N. 284 of the American Legion from 1947 to 1959. It is now operated as a house museum, and features a collected on Civil War artifacts and furniture that dates from 1815-1873.

Violet Bank was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 30, 1974 and the Virgina Landmarks Register on April 16, 1974. The Violet Bank Museum is located at 303 Virginia Avenue, Colonial Heights, Virginia 23834. For more information please call: 804-520-9395 or visit: Visting Violet Bank.