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
Morson's Row

Morson's Row

Morson's Row
Virginia Department of Historic Resources


Governor Street is an 18th century roadway that provided an important connection between the upper and lower portions of Shockoe Hill. The area to the east of the street, known as Council Chamber Hill, was an important early Richmond neighborhood. The houses in Morson’s Row are the last surviving neighborhood residences. Morson’s Row is named after James Marion Morson, a Richmond and Goochland County attorney who constructed the row as upscale tenements or rental property in 1853. Morson built one of the finest groupings of buildings from Richmond’s late antebellum period.

By the time Morson built his row, Governor Street was a prominent thoroughfare and one of Richmond’s most prestigious residential addresses. Morson provided the commission for the design of his row to Alfred Lybrock, a German trained architect. Upon immigrating to the United States, Lybrock worked in New York, and came to Richmond to supervise the United States Court House in 1852. Lybrock's background gave him a thorough knowledge of the latest architectural fashions and the newest technology of his day.

Morson’s Row is one of the earliest and most important examples of Italianate architecture in Richmond. The three buildings are distinguished by their bow fronts and the stepping of the facades to correspond to the slope of Governor Street. Constructed of Brick covered in stucco rendered to give the appearance of stone, they are ornamented with elaborate cast iron window hoods, door surrounds, and bracketed cornices. Morson’s Row is a remarkable survivor of antebellum architecture in downtown Richmond. The row is an important prototype for a popular Richmond building style and building form: the Italianate row house, one of the ubiquitous building types in late 19th-century Richmond.

Plan your visit
Morson’s Row is located at 219-223 Governor St. bordering Capitol Square. The buildings are state offices that are not generally open to the public.
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