Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation
Antebellum Architecture
Richmond's African American Heritage
The Continuing legacy of Historic Preservation
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Ellen Glasgow House

e. Glasgow House

Ellen Glasgow House
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development


Originally built for Richmond tobacco merchant David Branch in 1841, the Ellen Glasgow House takes its name from the author Ellen Glasgow, whose family bought the house in 1887. Glasgow, who lived in the house until her death in 1945, was a well-known Southern novelist and one of few Richmond women to achieve prominence in literature. In 1938, she was the sixth woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1942, she received the Pulitzer Prize for her final novel, In This Our Life. Glasgow’s autobiography, entitled The Woman Within, contains references to her home in Richmond, where she composed all but one of her 19 novels. Barren Ground, The Romantic Comedian, and The Sheltered Life are other examples of her work.

Prior to Glasgow’s occupancy, the house changed hands several time. In 1846 Isaac Davenport, a key figure in the Franklin Manufacturing Company, one of Richmond’s large early paper mills, bought it. Although Davenport died in April of 1865, the month of Richmond’s evacuation fire during the Civil War, the house remained in his family until Frances T. Glasgow bought the property in 1887. Ellen Glasgow inherited the house when her father died in 1916.

The house, whose style is a transition between Federal and Greek Revival, has a simple Doric front portico. A hip roof, four chimneys, and granite steps leading to the front portico are other features of the exterior. As was typical in Richmond, a multi-story rear porch (some of which has been enclosed) overlooks a garden. The two-story house is brick covered in stucco scored to look like cut stone, a somewhat common treatment for more refined brick buildings of this era. The elegant Greek Revival interior is marked by elaborate decorative ceiling elements and black marble fireplace trim. A carriage house is at the rear of the property. In 1945 following Ms. Glasgow’s death, her brother Archer donated the house to the Virginia Historical Society. In 1947, The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) purchased it. The house is now a private residence and law office.

Plan your visit
The Ellen Glasgow House is located at 1 W. Main St. within the Monroe Ward Historic District. The house is designated a National Historic Landmark.  Click here for The National Historic Landmark registration file.  It is not open to the public. The Ellen Glasgow House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
previous page Next page