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Laburnum Park Historic District

Laburnum Park

Laburnum Park
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development


Laburnum Park Historic District is one of Richmond’s historic streetcar suburbs with a fine collection of middle and upper class residential architecture from the early part of the 20th century.   The neighborhood is also the location of a number of important local public service institutions.  Situated on a large plateau in north Richmond, the district once formed the core of an estate Joseph Bryan, a wealthy and important businessman in the post-Civil War period, purchased for his family in 1883. 

Bryan built a lavish Queen Anne style country house “Laburnum” there in the 1880s and rebuilt it in 1906 when the original burned.   The second Laburnum house stands on Westwood Avenue in the Richmond Memorial Hospital Complex.  It is an ornate 50 room Neoclassical Revival building with Flemish bond brickwork and a Corinthian portico.   At the opposite end of the neighborhood, the Bryan family constructed “Nonchalance” in 1911 at 1600 Westwood Avenue on the corner of Hermitage Road.  This imposing Colonial Revival residence eventually became the Hermitage nursing home, which the Virginia Methodist Church established in 1948.

In 1919 after the death of Joseph Bryan, his heirs began to develop Laburnum Park as a residential subdivision.  The original neighborhood plan laid out 100-foot wide by 230-foot long lots, each nearly half an acre in size.  These lots are oriented primarily toward the wide medianed streets in the subdivision: Palmyra, Confederate, Wilmington, and Laburnum Avenues.  The wide medians on the streets and large lots make Laburnum Park one of the most distinctive early suburban developments in Richmond.

Charles M. Robinson designed one of the earliest and most unusual developments in the neighborhood in 1919, Laburnum Court.  The houses of this one-block development face Gloucester and Chatham Streets (the 3400 blocks on these north-south streets) and Palmyra and Westwood (the 1500 blocks on these east-west streets).  Influenced by the Arts and Crafts, Mediterranean Revival, and Colonial Revival styles, these stucco-clad frame houses are an innovative example of cooperative housing.  A private mews in the center of the block contains garages, recreational space, former servant’s dormitories, and a heating plant that supplied all of the houses in the neighborhood for many years.

Laburnum Park 2

Laburnum Park house
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development

Most of the residential architecture in the rest of the district dates from 1919 through the early 1930s.  The houses have a common architectural vocabulary, make good use of local materials, and are consistently well designed and built.  They reflect the work of the small group of designers working in the district, included architect Charles M. Robinson and two design and construction firms, Davis Brothers and Muhleman and Kayhoe. 

Like the smaller houses in Laburnum Court, the larger homes throughout the neighborhood reflect the influence of the Mediterranean, Arts and Crafts, and Colonial Revival architectural styles.  Examples of the Tudor Revival style are also in the district.    Roof shapes in the neighborhood include gambrel, hipped, side-gabled, and gabled end.  The homes have a variety of exterior finishes: brick, stucco, clapboard siding, and half timbering.  Laburnum Park houses typically make the most of their large lots with deep and generally uniform setbacks.  Many of them have driveways.  Most of the housing faces the east-west boulevards of the neighborhood.

In addition to the outstanding residential architecture, the neighborhood contains several institutional buildings of note.   At the northwest corner of Wilmington Avenue and Brook Road is Ginter Park Baptist Church, a 1920 Gothic Revival building of salvaged materials from the demolished Grace Baptist Church in downtown Richmond.  At the eastern edge of the district at the northwest corner of Brook Road and Westwood Avenue is Presbyterian Training School for Lay Workers.  Begun in 1921, this large complex, now occupied by Baptist Theological Seminary, is an outstanding example of Georgian Revival brickwork.   The former Richmond Memorial Hospital in the 1400 Block of Westwood Avenue dates from 1957.  This stark modern complex incorporates Laburnum House and is the design of Baskervill and Sons of Richmond and Samuel Hannaford and Sons of Cincinnati. 

Plan your visit
Laburnum Park Historic District is located in the 1200-1600 blocks of Westwood, Palmyra, Confederate, Wilmington, and W. Laburnum Aves; Chatham, Gloucester, and Lamont Sts. and is bounded by Hermitage Rd. on the west and Brook Rd. on the east. Approximately 2 miles north of downtown Richmond, the district is close to the Boulevard exit of Interstate 95. The houses generally are privately owned and not open to the public.
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