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Crozet House

Crozet House

Crozet House
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development


Local brick contractor Curtis Carter built the Crozet House in 1814. Named for the famous engineer Claudius Crozet, the home is one of several notable historic buildings clustered along a 2-block stretch of Main Street near the Richmond Public Library in downtown Richmond. The engineer Claudius Crozet (1789–1864) and his family lived in the house following their move to Richmond in 1823. Crozet, who studied bridge building after graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique in France in 1807, made his way to America after he had been a prisoner of war following the French invasion of Russia in 1812. In June of 1816, at 33 years of age, he married Agathe Decamp in Paris. They soon sailed for America, where Crozet would begin work as a professor of engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Crozet is responsible for designing several of the buildings at the academy. In 1821, Thomas Jefferson denied him a job at the nascent University of Virginia because the university had no buildings yet and was not ready to hire professors. Under other circumstances, Jefferson would hail Crozet as "by far the best mathematician in the United States".

In 1823, Crozet was elected Principal Engineer and Surveyor of Public Works of Virginia. He brought his wife and children with him from West Point to Richmond and began the new job. After a stint as engineer for Louisiana beginning in 1832, Crozet returned to his position as Principal Engineer for the State of Virginia in 1837. By that time, some railroads were already under construction and the canal system had reached its peak. According to a state historical marker near the town of Crozet in western Albemarle County, Virginia, “In 1839, Crozet surveyed the Blue Ridge mountains and determined that the best way to allow the railroad to cross the mountain would be through a series of tunnels. The 4273' tunnel through the rock-solid mountain below Rockfish Gap carried traffic from 1858 until 1944. His talents were tested in solving safety, drainage and ventilation problems posed by the construction of this tunnel..." Mr. Crozet’s engineering talent and determined involvement in the early days of Virginia’s railway industry left an indelible mark on the state’s landscape, and the Crozet House survives as a lasting testament to his name.

Crozet House 2

Crozet House
Historic American Buildings Survey

The home is a good example of Federal style architecture with its symmetry, window treatment, roofline, interior end chimneys, and molded cornice. It has Flemish bond brickwork, flat or jack arches, and delicate details for elements such as moldings and pediments. The jack-arch window lintels are plaster made to look like stone. Sometime between 1881 and 1885, the large residence was divided into a double house. The brick door surround at the Main Street entrance was added during the 1940s restoration. The home is closer in style to earlier farmhouses than to the elegant Neoclassical and Greek Revival mansions that became popular in Richmond in the mid-19th century.

Plan your visit
The Crozet House is located at 100 East Main St. between Foushee and 2nd Sts. The house is now a law office open to the public only by appointment.  Call 804-788-0411 for information.  The Crozet House has been documented as the Curtis Carter House by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
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