Please note that this text-only version, provided for ease of printing and reading, includes more than 100 pages and may take up to 15 minutes to print. By clicking on one of these links, you may go directly to a particular text-only section:
Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation
Antebellum Architecture in Richmond
Richmond's African American Heritage
The Continuing Legacy of Historic Preservation
List of Sites
Maps (must be printed separately)
The National Park Service’s Heritage Education Services, the City of Richmond, Richmond National Battlefield Park and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers proudly invite you to explore Richmond, the State Capital of Virginia. Richmond is one of the oldest and most historically and architecturally rich communities in the United States. This Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary explores the city and highlights 87 historic places listed in the National Register of Historic Places that together bring three centuries of history in Richmond to life.
The Richmond travel itinerary offers several ways to discover the city’s historic places:
• Descriptions of each featured historic place on the List of Sites highlighting its significance, including color images and information on how to visit.
•Essays with background history on important themes in the city’s development offer context for understanding historic places featured in the itinerary. Visitors can read about Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation, Antebellum Architecture in Richmond, Richmond’s African American Heritage, and The Continuing Legacy of Historic Preservation.
•Maps to help visitors plan what to see and do.
•A Learn More section with links to relevant websites such as tourism websites with information on cultural events and activities, other things to see and do, and dining and lodging possibilities. This section also provides a bibliography.
View the itinerary online or print it as a guide if you plan to visit in person. The Richmond itinerary, the 46th in this ongoing series, is part of the Department of the Interior’s
strategy to promote public awareness of history and encourage visits to historic places throughout the nation. The itineraries are created by a partnership of the National Park
Service; the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; and federal, state, and local governments and private organizations in communities, regions, and heritage areas throughout the United States. The itineraries help people everywhere learn about and plan trips to visit the amazing diversity of this country’s historic places that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service and its partners hope you enjoy this itinerary and others in the series. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on
the e-mail address at “comments or questions” on the bottom of each page.
Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation
Founded at the fall line of the James River in the Piedmont of Virginia, Richmond is at the head of navigation of the river, an ideal spot for a port. The town spread out over a series of hills and beyond along both sides of the river naturally evolving as a center for trade and commerce with the location of its commercial and residential districts, public buildings, and industrial areas shaped by topography. Its site, ties to the tobacco industry, and transportation innovations ultimately positioned Richmond to become one of the most commercially successful cities in the South.
Before the arrival of the first European settlers in the early 17th century following the granting of a royal charter by James I to the Virginia Company of London, Indian tribes of the Powatan Confederacy lived in the area. John Rolfe’s successful venture with tobacco in 1614 prompted settlers to travel westward, establishing large plantations along the James River that would utilize the rich soil of the region. Early in the colony’s history, the Byrd family erected profitable tobacco warehouses near the falls of the river. When the Warehouse Act of 1730 designated the falls of the James as one of the 40 required locations throughout the colony where tobacco inspectors graded the product, the Byrd holdings became even more valuable. Pressure from the House of Burgesses prompted William Byrd II to found the town of Richmond in 1733 as a trading center on the James River. In 1737, Major William Mayo laid out 32 squares and streets for the town on what is now Church Hill. A rival settlement, Rocky Ridge, developed on the south bank of the James River. The original 1737 plan of Richmond and the 1769 plan of Rocky Ridge (later Manchester) are still evident in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row and the Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic Districts.
Although not a sophisticated town by the time of its official incorporation in 1742, Richmond grew because of its increasing commercial success. The network of regional roads expanded, connecting the port to numerous plantations and the well-established town of Williamsburg. Furs, tobacco, and other crops passed through Richmond for shipment across the Atlantic. During the years preceding the American Revolution, approximately one-sixth of the tobacco crop sold in Richmond, which required additional coopers, blacksmiths, and warehouses. A market at 17th and Main Streets provided a venue for farmers to sell their wares. The open-air market is still in operation today at the original location, more than 200 years later. Only a few buildings from this colonial period remain, including the Old Stone House of c. 1740, which is now the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Built by a tobacco merchant in 1771, the Archibald Freeland House, the oldest house in the Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District, and the Woodward House, the last surviving building from the once-bustling port of Rocketts Landing, are testaments to the commercial success of Richmond during this time.
Whereas Virginia's colonial capital, Williamsburg, was a seasonal town, Richmond remained active throughout the year. The town’s commercial activity and convenient location made it a fine site for a central government. Advocates of this idea included Thomas Jefferson, who eventually helped design the State Capitol. After the seat of government moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1779, the city emerged as the “Metropolis of Virginia” and one of the most important cities in the early United States during this era. The population increased from a few hundred people in 1782 to nearly 6,000 by the turn of the 19th century. Local leaders looked to transportation and industry to make Richmond both the political and economic capital of Virginia, and during the Federal period, the city grew rapidly as a governmental, manufacturing, and transportation center.
Conceived by George Washington, the James River and Kanawha Canal was the first canal in the United States and, like the James River, integral to Richmond’s development. Begun in 1785, the canal eventually stretched 197 miles westward from Richmond to the town of Buchanan in the Allegheny Mountains. The canal allowed boats to bypass the falls and bring agricultural and forest products from areas further west in Virginia providing employment for boatmen and assisting the growth of the iron, flour milling, and quarrying industries along the river. The canal was the city’s primary means of connection with points west until the railways eclipsed it in the second half of the 19th century. Shockoe Slip, Richmond’s oldest mercantile district, developed in proximity to the Great Shiplock and the mills surrounding the canal Turning Basin. Ships departing from Richmond’s ports bearing loads of flour would travel as far as Australia, Brazil, and California, bringing back other goods such as coffee for processing locally.
The canal also helped in the shipment of coal mined in the region. The coal industry developed early on in Richmond’s history and had a major impact on trade and transportation. The first coal mine in North America was at the Midlothian coalfields in Chesterfield County, and by 1763, the mines produced 14,000 tons of coal each year. Until the 1830s, these eastern Virginia mines were the main source of coal in North America, providing coal shipped to New England, the West Indies, and Europe. Present-day Midlothian Turnpike and Broad Street initially developed to facilitate the transportation of coal from the mines to ports in Richmond and Manchester, and in 1831 the Chesterfield Railroad was built to speed transportation. This gravity-powered rail was the first in Virginia and the second in the United States.
Spurred by the success of the canal and the relocation of the capital, Richmond experienced a period of steady growth and development in the early decades of the 19th century. The transportation network and associated industrialization made Richmond an important economic center, and during the 1840s, Richmond was the largest tobacco production market in the world. The construction of more than 50 tobacco factories in Shockoe Valley made tobacco the dominant industry in this area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well. Tobacco factories and warehouses dating from between 1880 and 1930 remain throughout this historic district. Today, most of the large warehouses and factories along Tobacco Row are converted to apartments, condominiums, restaurants, and office space. Collectively, they represent one of the largest contiguous adaptive reuse projects in the country.
Tredegar Iron Works, a National Historic Landmark, opened in 1837, taking its name from the famous iron works at Tredegar, Wales. Proximity to a waterpower source and working coalfields, and development of the railroad industry from c. 1830 to c. 1850 made Richmond the iron and coal center of the South. The foundry’s ability to produce massive quantities of ammunition was an important factor in the selection of Richmond as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. By 1860, the city’s population grew to nearly 38,000 - making it by far the largest town in Virginia and one of the largest in the South.
In 1865, the retreating Confederate army started the infamous evacuation fire that destroyed a substantial number of the buildings in Richmond’s core. The city rapidly rebuilt, continuing as a center of the tobacco trade. With economic and population growth, a large downtown business district, extensive warehouse and industrial areas, and diverse residential neighborhoods developed. The early financial institutions in the Main Street Banking Historic District and commercial buildings such as the Stearns and Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Buildings date to the post-Civil War period.
The Virginia Central Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad dominated the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row area after the Civil War. Elevated railroad tracks were a part of the improvements to the railroad network. The confluence of so many railroads prompted construction in 1901 of the Main Street Station, a National Historic Landmark. Recently restored to its early grandeur, the station is to become a centrally located multi-modal transportation hub. Elevated railroad tracks, including the well-known Triple Crossing, a point at which three different railroads crossed one over the other, date to the same period. Another monumental train station, John Russell Pope’s 1919 Broad Street Station furthered the city’s extensive rail network and allowed it to continue to grow as a center of manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and retail sales.
Richmond was also home to the first successful electric streetcar system in the United States. Originating in 1887, with a design by Philadelphia engineer Frank Sprague, the network of trolley lines gave rise to some of the country’s early “streetcar suburbs,” including the Ginter Park and Town of Barton Heights Historic Districts. The James River, the provider of transportation as well as water for powering mills and factories, was harnessed for electricity and even streetcars. Belle Isle, formerly a camp for captured Union soldiers, was the location of an early hydroelectric plant that provided power for streetcars on the south side of the river, where the trolley line headed west to its terminus at Forest Hill Park. A c.1899 hydroelectric plant, formerly owned by the Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) and now part of a retail, office, and residential redevelopment project, still stands at the bottom of 12th Street on the Canal Walk.
Richmond grew and prospered until after World War II. The tobacco industry continued at a large scale, expanding with the construction of modern cigarette factories next to the rail line alongside Tobacco Row in the first half of the 20th century. Following a period when a variety of factors caused the city to lose both population and businesses, the trend began to reverse. Today, Richmond is at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 64 in the center of a metropolitan region of 1.2 million people. Law, finance, and government are now the primary drivers of its economy. A number of Fortune 500 companies, including tobacco giant Phillip Morris USA, have their headquarters in the city. Richmond’s historic districts and sites remain one of its biggest attractions. Visitors come from all over the world to witness the legacy of one of the nation’s largest agricultural processing and shipping centers; the industrial center of the South; the seat of the Confederacy; and the home to Thomas Jefferson’s revered temple to democracy in the New World, the Virginia State Capitol.
Antebellum Architecture in Richmond
Richmond has a rich collection of historic places associated with the pre-Civil War period of its history. Many are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and highlighted in this travel itinerary.
William Byrd II established Richmond in 1733, and in 1768, his son William Byrd III founded the town of Rocky Ridge, which is the location of the Manchester historic districts of present-day Richmond. During the colonial period, both settlements were modest trading outposts with only a few hundred people between them. Their livelihood revolved around the buying and selling of hogsheads of tobacco. A smattering of modest houses, small tobacco merchants’ stores, and large public tobacco warehouses characterized both communities.
The original plans of Richmond and Rocky Ridge are evident in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row and the Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic Districts. Only a few buildings from the colonial era survive in Richmond. These include the 18th century portion of the Henrico Parrish's St. John’s Episcopal Church from 1742 and the Old Stone House c. 1740. Another rare colonial-era survivor is the Archibald Freeland House of 1771, the oldest house in Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District.
In 1779, the Commonwealth of Virginia decided to move the state capital to Richmond because of Richmond’s relatively central and presumably more defensible position. In 1780, Governor Thomas Jefferson led the actual relocation of Virginia’s government from Williamsburg to Richmond. The presumed defensibility of Richmond proved to be an illusion when the British captured the new Virginia capital in 1781. In spite of the 1781 military setback, moving Virginia’s government precipitated the emergence of Richmond as the “Metropolis of Virginia” and one of the most important cities in the early United States. The population increased from a few hundred people in 1782 to nearly 6,000 inhabitants by 1800.
In 1780, the Commonwealth of Virginia laid out a substantial geographic expansion of the city to accommodate the new state governmental functions and the expected increase in population. Today, this expansion encompasses the section of downtown Richmond bounded by Foushee and Clay Streets to the west and north, the James River to the south, and Interstate 95 to the east. This area contains a number of districts and individual properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Commonwealth of Virginia began construction of the Virginia State Capitol in 1785. Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clerisseau designed this National Historic Landmark, one of the first temple-form buildings in the United States. The capitol is atop one of the highest points in Richmond. Situated on a sort of acropolis, it visually dominated the young city. Over the course of time, the location of the capitol on Shockoe Hill shifted the direction of Richmond’s growth westward from the original portion of Richmond in Shockoe Valley.
Once the state government moved to the city, its leaders looked to transportation and industry to make Richmond the economic as well as the political capital of Virginia. The essay Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation in Richmond explores this theme. Richmond’s transportation network and industrial development turned the city into one of the most important economic centers in the South.
In the early decades of the 19th century, Richmond’s population grew steadily. By 1860, the population reached 37,968 making Richmond by far the largest city in Virginia and one of the biggest in the South. Richmond’s post-colonial antebellum architectural legacy reflects this steady growth and development.
Few public buildings remain from the period. A noteworthy exception is Mason’s Hall from 1788, a wood- frame Palladian building in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District. Built to house Richmond’s Masonic lodges, it is one of oldest continually used Masonic lodges in the world. Another is the Bell Tower on Capitol Square that Levi Swan designed and built in 1824 to warn residents of the city in case of fire or emergency.
Richmond still has a wealth of historic churches from this time, many of which nationally important architects designed. Several African American congregations built churches described in the thematic essay Richmond’s African American Heritage. One of the oldest surviving churches is Monumental Church, a National Historic Landmark, from 1814. Designed by distinguished architect Robert Mills, this Neoclassical building is his only surviving circular church in the United States. It commemorates the disastrous 1811 theater fire with a monument and variety of funerary symbols. St. Peter’s Church of 1839 is an important transitional building to the fully developed Greek Revival style. The mature Greek Revival style in Richmond is reflected in such significant temple-form churches as the First African Baptist Church of 1841 by Thomas U. Walter, St. Paul’s Church of 1841 by Thomas Stewart, and Leigh Street Baptist Church from 1854 by Samuel Sloan.
The late antebellum period saw the introduction of picturesque architecture in both churches and public buildings. Gothic Revival churches include the Second Presbyterian Church of 1845 by Minard LaFevre and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church of 1859 in the St. John’s Church Historic District. Constructed in 1845 to house the Medical College of Virginia, the Egyptian Building is one of the finest examples of Egyptian Revival architecture in the United States. Philadelphia architect Thomas Stewart designed this memorable building.
During this time, styles of residences evolved significantly. Early in the period, most Richmond homes were vernacular detached houses or cottages of wood, such as the Tucker Cottage of 1802 in Jackson Ward Historic District, and the Morris Cottages of 1835 in St. John’s Church Historic District. Many of the early residences were on large lots with outbuildings, including the Adam Craig House of 1785 in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District. The Craig House is a large frame house on an original half-acre lot, with a historic outbuilding. Good examples of vernacular architecture from later in the antebellum period are in several National Register historic districts including Union Hill, St. John’s Church, Jackson Ward, and Oregon Hill.
In the more densely built sections of Richmond, attached housing became the norm as in the early “double” houses in the 1800 block of East Grace Street in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District. One of the earliest attached rows is Carrington Row c. 1810 in the St. John’s Church Historic District. Greek Revival rows with columned entrance porches became popular after 1840. Linden Row of 1845 is among the most magnificent Greek Revival rows. Elmtree Row in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District is an excellent more modest Greek Revival row dating from about 1854.
Throughout the antebellum period, visitors to Richmond commented on the large detached mansions, particularly on the hills of the city. Important surviving Neoclassical mansions include the Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House of 1808 and the Wickham-Valentine House that Alexander Parris designed in 1811. Another important Parris-designed building is the Virginia Governor’s Mansion of 1814, the oldest continually used executive building in the United States. Richmond still has some Greek Revival mansions from this period such as the Ellen Glasgow House of 1841 and the 1844 Barret House. In the 1850s, the Italianate became the most important style in Richmond. The Pace-King House in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row District and the Bolling Haxall House, both from 1858, illustrate this style. The White House of the Confederacy, built in 1818, represents one of the finer Federal style homes in the city.
The city still has several antebellum designed landscapes of note. Capitol Square, the setting for the Virginia State Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, and Bell Tower, retains elements from an 1816 formal plan that Maximillian Godefroy designed and an 1850 naturalistic plan by John Notman of Philadelphia. Hollywood Cemetery of 1847, another Notman design, is one of the finest “rural” cemeteries in the country, a dramatic landscape of hills and dales overlooking the James River.
Two important monuments from 1858, the Virginia Washington Monument on Capitol Square and the James Monroe Tomb in Hollywood Cemetery, are both National Historic Landmarks. In 1851, the City of Richmond established a system of public squares, acquiring land for three squares, two of which are listed on the National Register. Monroe Park is the centerpiece of the Monroe Park Historic District, and Libby Hill Park is in the St. John’s Church Historic District. In 1856, the city laid out Oakwood Cemetery, a publicly owned rural cemetery in the Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District.
In addition are a considerable number of antebellum buildings in the Court End section of Richmond and both of the Franklin Street Historic Districts. All of these buildings together are an outstanding architectural collection that represents Richmond’s importance before the Civil War.
Richmond’s stature as a financial, commercial, and population center was a deciding factor in its selection as the capital of the Confederacy. The Civil War had a dramatic impact when the evacuation fire of 1865 destroyed a substantial portion of Richmond. The city struggled to rebuild afterward, and while it remained a leading southern city, Richmond would never regain the national prominence it obtained during the antebellum period.
Richmond's African American Heritage
Richmond has a significant collection of places listed in the National Register of Historic Places that document the important role of African Americans in the city’s history. The oldest surviving properties generally date to the opening decades of the 19th century and later. Many are within the boundaries of the Jackson Ward Historic District, which the Secretary of the Interior designated a National Historic Landmark because of its nationally significant associations with African American history.
After the closing of the transatlantic slave trade to the United States in 1808, Richmond became a major center of the domestic slave trade. Owners of slaves from Virginia plantations brought them to Richmond to sell to owners developing new plantations in the Deep South. While no places relating to the slave trade are registered, many having to do with slavery are listed in the National Register. A large portion of Richmond’s slave population worked as “domestics.” Auxiliary buildings that served as quarters for the domestic slaves and as household kitchens, “kitchen quarters” survive in older portions of Richmond. Kitchen quarters remain behind antebellum houses in the St. John’s Church Historic District and in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District. The Virginia Governor’s Mansion has a kitchen quarter dating from between 1811 and 1813.
Slaves hired out by their masters played an essential role in the development of Richmond as a major industrial center in the antebellum period. They were an important part of the work force at the Tredegar Iron Works and other iron foundries. Hired slaves also provided the majority of the labor for Richmond’s tobacco industry performing the intensive hand labor needed to stem tobacco leaves and make plugs of chewing tobacco. Several surviving examples of tobacco factory buildings where this work took place are in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District. After emancipation, African Americans continued to do essential work in the tobacco industry in the many tobacco related buildings from this later period that remain in the district.
African Americans also played a vital role in creating and maintaining Richmond’s transportation network during the antebellum period. Between 1785 and the decades leading up to the Civil War, African Americans and Irish immigrants helped to construct the James River and Kanawha Canal, the first canal in the United States. Crews of slaves and free blacks made up many of the skilled bateau crews that navigated cargoes into Richmond from as far away as the Allegheny Mountains in western Virginia.
Slaves and free African Americans established several church congregations and burial associations before the Civil War. Surviving antebellum churches include Third Street Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Jackson Ward Historic District. Both of these churches date from the 1850’s. Burial Associations organized as early as 1815 to create a number of adjoining burial grounds preserved today as the Barton Heights Cemeteries.
Richmond’s free black population owned property and built houses in antebellum Richmond. Surviving examples from the 1850s include the Miller House in the Oregon Hill Historic District and the Adams House in the Jackson Ward Historic District.
Prompted by the ending of slavery and the disruption of rural Virginia caused by the Civil War, many African Americans relocated to Richmond during Reconstruction. They were essential in rebuilding the city’s infrastructure and economy. During the late 19th century, the growing black population constructed a substantial amount of housing. Jackson Ward developed into the largest concentration of African Americans and the center of black life in the city. The considerable number of skilled black builders constructed homes not only in Jackson Ward but also in other parts of the city such as the Carver Residential Historic District. Their buildings ranged from modest row houses to substantial homes for Richmond’s black leadership. Among the finest examples is the 100 block of East Leigh Street, known as “Quality Row” because of the many African American notables residing there. The most distinguished house on the block is the Maggie L. Walker House.
Some important black churches survive from this era in the Carver Residential, Jackson Ward, and Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District. Individually designated church buildings include the former First African Baptist Church building of 1876, the one-time seat of Richmond’s oldest black congregation, and Sixth Mount Zion Baptist from 1884 and 1926, the home pulpit of noted preacher Reverend John Jasper.
In the decades preceding and following the turn of the 20th
century, African Americans organized fraternal and beneficial associations. Richmond was the national headquarters of significant fraternal organizations, including the United Order of True Reformers and the Order of St. Luke. The home of the True Reformer’s Bank founder, W. W. Browne, is in the Jackson Ward Historic District. In 1886, Browne operated the True Reformer’s Bank from his home, the first bank in the United States chartered by and for African Americans. Constructed in 1902 and expanded in 1917, the St. Luke Building is a significant African American landmark that housed a bank, fraternal insurance company, newspaper, and an auditorium. In 1903, Maggie Lena Walker established St. Luke Penny Savings Bank there becoming the first American woman bank president in the United States.
African American businesses thrived during this period, many in the Jackson Ward Historic District. One of the most substantial was the A. D. Price Funeral Home, which dates from 1902. The success of economic development activities by fraternal organizations prompted the establishment of for-profit black financial enterprises. Office buildings of insurance companies, including the Richmond Beneficial and Home Benefit, survive in Jackson Ward, as do bank buildings such as those of Mechanics Savings Bank and Second Street Bank.
Richmond also has several historic educational buildings associated with African Americans. The first public high school for black students was in the White House of the Confederacy. In 1891, the school moved to the Booker T. Washington Elementary School in the Jackson Ward Historic District. Constructed in 1871, Booker T. Washington is the oldest surviving purpose built public school building in Richmond. The city also has two other historic high school buildings that served black students, the old Armstrong High School in the Jackson Ward Historic District dating from 1922 and the Maggie L. Walker High School from 1936.
African Americans sought higher education in Richmond at Virginia Union University. The centerpiece of the university consists of two individual National Register listings: the original Romanesque campus buildings dating from 1899 and the Belgian Building, a modernist addition to the campus. Built by the Belgian government for exhibition at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, then later moved to the Virginia Union campus in 1940, the Belgian Building is of particular interest for its sculptural groups representing the Congo.
Richmond is the location for one of the more unusual public buildings in the United States associated with African Americans. The First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory in the Jackson Ward Historic District is a massive castellated Gothic building constructed for African American troops. This landmark is possibly the oldest armory for black soldiers in the United States in addition to being the oldest armory building in Virginia.
The work of Richmond’s African American architects is represented in the National Register. Early in the 20th century, black architects began to be responsible for buildings in the Jackson Ward Historic District. In 1907, Washington architect John Lankford designed the W. L. Taylor Mansion, one of the largest homes constructed for an African American in the United States. Charles Russell designed a number of commercial buildings, churches, and homes. The Hughes House from 1914 is an important example of his work. Harvey Nathaniel Johnson, a protégé of Russell, was the architect of the house at 104 West Jackson Street that dates from 1919.
Much of the historic fabric of Richmond reflects the legacy of African Americans. They made significant contributions to the development of transportation and industry that turned Richmond into a major city. After the Civil War Richmond became a nationally important center of African American business and fraternal organizations. Listings in the National Register of Historic Places recognize the long and vital role of African Americans in the history of the city.
The Continuing Legacy of Historic Preservation
Richmond’s long and rich history has an equally compelling counterpart in the many efforts to preserve its past. From canals to banks, parks to cemeteries, Richmond’s built environment spans nearly 300 years of American history, and Richmonders have long been aware of their city’s historical legacy. As Richmond has grown and evolved, its residents have worked in a variety of ways to celebrate the city’s past and preserve its heritage for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
Any history of the historic preservation movement in Richmond must undoubtedly begin with the establishment of the Virginia Historical Society in 1831. To this day a private organization that obtains nearly all of its support through membership and endowment, the historical society counts as its first honorary member former United States President James Madison. The society elected Chief Justice John Marshall, whose home in downtown Richmond still stands as a designated National Historic Landmark, as its first president. During its first 30 years, even before it had a permanent home, the society began to amass a collection of valuable books, manuscripts, museum objects, and natural history specimens, occasionally publishing the texts of historic documents and addresses delivered at its annual meetings.
This studied approach to history was in step with other organizations of that era and set the tone for centuries to come regarding efforts to preserve Virginia and Richmond’s past. Local historian Samuel Mordecai’s 1856 book Richmond in By-gone Days surveyed over 150 years of Richmond’s history. Though an invaluable resource for Richmond’s history, its subtitle, “with a glance at the present: being reminiscences and last words of an old citizen,” gives some suggestion of the antiquarian bent that marked the era.
The General Assembly created the Library of Virginia in 1823 to “organize, care for, and manage the state's growing collection of books and official records - many of which date back to the early colonial period.” The library originally occupied rooms on the third floor of the Virginia State Capitol until 1895, when the state built a new library and office building on the eastern side of Capitol Square. Since then, there have been two successor buildings. In 1997, the library shifted its collections once again to a modern six-story building on Broad Street. Today, the library houses the most comprehensive collection of materials on Virginia government, history, and culture available anywhere. Its printed, manuscript, map, and photographic collections attract researchers from across around the world, while the library's website opens many resources to those at great distances who are not able to travel to Richmond. In addition to managing and preserving its collections, the library provides research and reference assistance to state officials, as well as consulting services to state and local government agencies and to Virginia's public libraries. It also administers numerous federal, state, and local grant programs; publishes award-winning books on Virginia history; and offers the public a wide array of exhibitions, lectures, book-signings, and other educational programs.”
Founded in 1889, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) is “dedicated to preserving and promoting the state's irreplaceable historic structures, landscapes, collections, communities and archaeological sites” (APVA Mission Statement). From the outset, the organization divided itself into branches to encourage communities to identify and save historic landmarks. Its various arms continue to advocate for preservation in their respective cities, counties, or regions.
The Richmond-based William Byrd Branch of the APVA merged with the Historic Richmond Foundation in 2006, and continues to work toward the larger Association’s goals at the local and regional level.
The Museum of the Confederacy has an equally long history of preservation. In late 1889, the city announced plans to demolish the former White House of the Confederacy. That year, Isobel Stewart Bryan suggested that the mansion not only be saved but that the building should be utilized as a museum for preservation of records or relics of the Confederacy. On February 22, 1896, the mansion opened its doors as The Confederate Museum. Today, the Museum of the Confederacy's goals of preserving the objects and history of the Confederacy for the public have not changed. Facing a growing Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Sytem, the museum announced plans in the fall of 2007 to expand to a statewide museum system that will expand on the mission of the original founders of the organization.
The effort to memorialize Richmond’s history took a new direction in 1890 with the unveiling of Jean Antoine Mercie’s monumental equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee, a 12-ton, 21-foot high bronze statue sitting on a 40-foot granite pedestal in the center of a large intersection on Monument Avenue. The introduction of this major element sealed the fate of this unique memorial street. While the Lee Monument is the largest and grandest of the statues on the avenue, five more suitably impressive monuments followed: three to Civil War heroes Jeb Stuart, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson; one to scientist and inventor Matthew Fontaine Maury; and the sixth, and last, to Richmond’s native humanitarian, scholar, and athlete Arthur Ashe. Located on the last block of the Monument Avenue Historic District, the statue was dedicated in 1996 on Ashe’s birthday, July 10, drawing thousands of spectators.
The elegant 1812 Wickham-Valentine House is home to part of the Valentine Richmond History Center. For over a century, the center’s focus has been the collection, preservation, and interpretation of life and history in Richmond. It began with the personal collection of Mann Valentine Jr., and in 1898 became the first private museum in Richmond. Today, the mission of the Valentine Museum and Richmond History Center is “to engage, educate, and challenge a diverse audience by collecting, preserving, and interpreting Richmond's history.” The center has its own historic archives that are open for research by appointment. In 1941, the Valentine Museum published Houses of Old Richmond, a book that surveyed Richmond houses from 1737 to 1860. Its author was Mary Wingfield Scott, one of the city’s early staunch preservation advocates and the leader behind the saving of Linden Row, an important row of attached Greek Revival houses from the mid-19th century. Scott also wrote the 1950 book Old Richmond Neighborhoods, which documents the evolution of Richmond’s early residential areas.
In 1956, a group of Richmond preservationists established Historic Richmond Foundation (HRF) to buy a number of neglected buildings in the neighborhood around historic St. John’s Church. The revitalization of this area, building by building, was part of a larger plan for the revival of downtown. Since then, the organization – which recently merged with the William Byrd Branch of the APVA - has saved over 300 buildings important to Richmond’s history, including the magnificent Old City Hall. HRF has published books on Richmond architecture and history, and was recently instrumental in saving the Patteson-Schutte House, a mid 18th-century farmhouse identified as one of Richmond’s oldest buildings.
The Church Hill neighborhood became the center of Richmond’s historic preservation movement in the 1950s. In 1957, the City of Richmond created a Commission of Architectural Review and designated its first Old and Historic District, St. John’s Church Historic District. This district is now one of the best-preserved 19th century neighborhoods in the United States. Since that time, the city has designated 14 additional local historic districts regulating alterations to properties and encouraging compatible design for new construction. The city designated Church Hill North Historic District, a neighborhood with a number of antebellum buildings adjacent to St. John’s Church, in 2007, coinciding with the 50-year anniversary of the commission and the establishment of the St. John’s Church Historic District.
Following years of abandonment and neglect in the post-World War II decades, downtown Richmond is coming into its own again with an array of ongoing revitalization endeavors. The city’s wealth of historic buildings and neighborhoods are regaining their vitality. The state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credit programs, which have been responsible for $1.4 billion of investment statewide in the last 10 years, and the city’s tax abatement program are providing incentives for entrepreneurial property owners, fueling a booming demand for living and working spaces in downtown Richmond’s historic buildings.
Richmond is home to the headquarters for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), the agency responsible for carrying out federal and state preservation mandates in Virginia, including placement of historic resources on the Virginia Landmarks Register, making nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, and administering tax credit incentives, historic preservation grants, and easements. For over 40 years, the Department of Historic Resources has partnered with private property owners to ensure the preservation of Virginia's historic landmarks through historic preservation easements. The easement, a perpetual, legal agreement between the property owner and the DNR protects the historic and character-defining features of a property, while allowing for sensitive changes according to the needs of a property owner. The DNR's portfolio of easement properties represents the rich array of architectural, archeological, and cultural landscape resources found in Virginia. In recognition of the strength of Richmond’s local historic preservation program, DHR designated the City of Richmond as a Virginia certified local government, or CLG. Beginning in the 1990s, funding through CLG grants made it possible for the state and city to oversee the survey and designation of additional historic districts in Richmond on the National Register of Historic Places. The majority of these neighborhoods are in areas of Richmond targeted for federal assistance to promote their revitalization. Today, due in part to this city-state partnership with the federal government, Richmond has well over 40 historic districts of varying size throughout the city. Many districts and individual properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Incorporated in December 1999, the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (A.C.O.R.N.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the revitalization of Richmond’s older neighborhoods. A.C.O.R.N. encourages and helps individuals to purchase vacant and abandoned properties, and advocates for “the preservation of the cultural and historic assets that give the city’s old neighborhoods their unique character.” Also formed in 1999, the Capitol Square Preservation Council develops recommendations for the preservation of the historical and architectural integrity of Capitol Square, a verdant open space in the heart of downtown encircled by governmental historic properties. The council’s office is on the top floor of the Bell Tower, whose first floor houses the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s visitor center.
Preservation of iconographic buildings such as the Old Stone House, St. John’s Church, Old City Hall, Main Street Station, and the Virginia State Capitol has also helped to galvanize Richmond’s preservation advocates and foster an appreciation for historic architecture. 2004 saw the beginning of the Capitol Restoration Project, a major three-year interior and exterior restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s capitol building. This $83 million project was finished in time for the arrival of the Queen of England as part of the nation’s 400th anniversary celebration in 2007. Other recent and ongoing renovations of landmark buildings in downtown Richmond include the 2001 restoration of the 1814 Monumental Church, now owned by Historic Richmond Foundation; the former First Baptist Church from 1841 now Hunton Hall on the Medical College of Virginia campus; and the First Battalion Armory, an African American armory from 1895 that the City of Richmond currently owns.
Richmond has a diverse and active preservation community, which functions at many levels from local and state government officials to citizens buying and restoring their own homes in the city’s many historic neighborhoods. A number of archival and photographic resources are available to help educate and guide residents and visitors alike. Many of them are listed in the Learn More section of the itinerary.
List of Sites
Falls of the James
• Belle Isle
• Hollywood Cemetery and James Monroe Tomb
• Oregon Hill Historic District
• Tredegar Iron Works
• Barton Heights Cemeteries
• Chestnut Hill--Plateau Historic District
• Ginter Park Historic District
• Hermitage Road Historic District
• Laburnum Park Historic District
• Town of Barton Heights Historic District
• Virginia Union University & Belgian Building
• Leigh Street Baptist Church
• Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District
• St. John's Church Historic District and St. John's Episcopal Church
• Union Hill Historic District
• Woodward House
• Barret House
• Bell Tower
• Block 00-100 East Franklin Street Historic District
• Bolling Haxall House
• Broad Street Commercial Historic District
• Centenary United Methodist Church
• Commonwealth Club Historic District
• Crozet House
• Egyptian Building
• Ellen Glasgow House
• First African Baptist Church
• First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory
• First National Bank Building
• Grace Street Commercial Historic District
• Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House
• Hebrew Cemetery
• Henry Coalter Cabell House
• Jackson Ward Historic District
• James River and Kanawha Canal Historic District
• The Jefferson Hotel
• John Marshall House
• Joseph P. Winston House
• Kent-Valentine House
• Linden Row
• Maggie L. Walker House
• Main Street Banking Historic District
• Monumental Church
• Morson's Row
• Old City Hall
• Old First Baptist Church
• Putney Houses
• Second Presbyterian Church
• Shockoe Hill Cemetery
• St. Paul's Church
• St. Peter's Church
• Stearns and Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Buildings
• Stewart-Lee House
• Taylor-Mayo House
• United States Post Office and Customs House
• Virginia Governor's Mansion
• Virginia State Capitol
• Virginia Washington Monument
• West Franklin Street Historic District
• White House of the Confederacy
• Wickham-Valentine House
Shockoe Valley and Riverfront
Main Street Station and Trainshed
• Mason's Hall
• Old Stone House
• Pace-King House
• Shockoe Slip Historic District
• Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District
• Forest Hill Park
• Manchester Industrial Historic District
• Manchester Residential & Commercial Historic District
• Boulevard Historic District and Confederate Memorial Chapel Home for Needy Confederate Women
• Branch House
• Broad Street Station
• Byrd Park Pump House
• Byrd Theatre
• Carver Residential and Industrial Historic Districts
• Fan Area Historic District
• Maggie L. Walker High School
• Monroe Park Historic District
• Monument Avenue Historic District
• Scott's Addition Historic District
• Virginia House
• West of Boulevard Historic District
• Richmond National Battlefield Park
• James River Plantations Itinerary
Falls of the James
Belle Isle is a rocky, mostly forested island in the middle of the James River, which flows through the center of the City of Richmond. William Byrd I acquired the island in 1676, and it remained in the Byrd family for a century. The island is an outdoor recreation haven with a rich history tied to early industry and the Civil War.
Belle Isle has been the site of a number of industrial operations beginning with a nail factory in 1814 and a mill in the same decade. Belle Isle Manufacturing Company built the Richmond area’s first chartered rolling and puddling mills on the island in the 1840’s producing nails, bar iron, boilerplate, and other works of iron. This company became the Old Dominion Iron & Nail Works, which by 1860 was one of the premier nail manufacturers in the country and still occupied the island as late as 1910. The remains of an historic iron foundry are still visible. The island’s granite offered ready material for the operation of stone crushing plants. A former quarry is still accessible on the north side of the island, not far from the James River’s Hollywood Rapids. The shell of an early 20th century hydroelectric plant stands on the south side of the island, visible from the footbridge to the south bank of James River Park.
During the Civil War, the island was home to the Confederacy’s largest military prison, which housed captured Union prisoners in tents surrounded by a stockade. At its maximum capacity in 1863, the prison held 10,000 Union soldiers, with tents for only 3,000. With no barracks for the prisoners, exposure to the elements was a large factor in what would prove to be a staggering death toll on the island.
The 540 acre island is known now primarily for its outdoor offerings, which range from strolling and picnicking to running, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing. A running and bicycling path circles the island, offering easy access to popular sunbathing and wading spots. Fishing is also popular in the waters surrounding the island.
Belle Isle, a city park, is located in the James River at US 1/301and is open to the public for no charge from dawn until dusk. For additional information call 804-646-8911 or visit the City of Richmond James River Park System website. The island is only accessible by foot, bicycle, or boat. The easiest way to it is from the north side of the James River, via a pedestrian bridge suspended under the Lee Bridge. The access point lies just west of the historic Tredegar Iron Works at the base of S. 5th St.
Hollywood Cemetery and James Monroe Tomb
Hollywood Cemetery is set amongst a series of wooded hills and dales overlooking the falls of the James River. The site of Hollywood was part of the estate of Belvidere, a country house built by William Byrd III in 1758 just east of the site of the future cemetery. Byrd’s strained financial circumstances prompted him to dispose of most of his property around Richmond through a lottery in 1769. He divided his property west of colonial-era Richmond into 100 acre “out lots” for the lottery. Eventually the Harvie family acquired a number of out lots, including the area known as Harvie’s Woods, the future site of Hollywood Cemetery. The Harvie family burial plot is still visible in Hollywood just west of Westvale Avenue. The completion of the James River and Kanawha Canal around the falls of the James River in 1800 made Harvie’s Woods fairly accessible from Richmond via the canal towpath. As a result, the area became a popular spot for walks, picnics, and hunting. Its hilltops provided a picturesque vantage point of Richmond and the James River, which visitors and artists alike enjoyed.
A brief period of real estate speculation around 1816 led to the incorporation of Harvie’s Woods into a major subdivision, Sidney. For a considerable period of time Sidney remained a separate city, but one that existed only on paper for many years. This began to change after 1840, when the rapid growth of Richmond made cutting down the hills and filling in the vales of Harvie’s Woods a distinct possibility. The preservation of the site as a landscaped cemetery occurred in 1847, when, after a visit to Mount Auburn cemetery near Boston, Richmonders William Haxall and Joshua Fry worked to organize a similar “Rural Cemetery” on the outskirts of Richmond. Fry and Haxall began a company with some 40 prominent Richmond subscribers. The company retained the services of John Notman of Philadelphia, the initial designer of the second rural cemetery in the United States, Laurel Hill, established in 1836.
Notman briefly visited the Richmond site and returned to Philadelphia with his notes and a topographical survey of the cemetery property. Using this data, he prepared a cemetery plan for a fee of $300. Notman suggested the name “Holly-Wood” for the new cemetery because of the large number of holly trees he saw during his inspection of the site. In his design, Notman attempted to preserve much of the original topography of Harvie’s Woods. The plan accommodated burials through double tiers of lots terraced on the hilltops and terraced hillsides of the site. Winding roads and footpaths made the lots readily accessible to visitors and family members. Notman reoriented access away from the canal to a new entrance at the northeast corner of the property.
The Hollywood Cemetery Company diligently worked to implement the Notman design between 1848 and the early 1850s laying out and surveying cemetery lots. The Notman plan required considerable infrastructure, including a terraced entrance drive, roadways through the site, and paths to provide access to the tiers of lots. Managing the streams and controlling erosion were important parts of the construction. The company built a board enclosure fence around the property and an extensive system of gutters, drainage ditches, culverts, and bridges. To ornament the site the company constructed several lakes, all of which have been filled in. The results of this work are still visible in the original 40 acres of the cemetery, an outstanding 19th century designed landscape.
Notman proposed an entrance lodge in the form of an Italian villa at the entrance to the cemetery at Albemarle and Cherry Streets. The company did not act on Notman’s recommendation but by the 1870s constructed a Gothic “ruin” entrance with an incomplete church tower, iron carriage and pedestrian gates, and a masonry fragment opposite the tower. The entrance was in the best tradition of sham ruins built as picturesque ornaments on English estates. In 1890, the company added to the church tower, creating a chapel (now the cemetery office). Around that time, they replaced the original with a new and enlaraged superintendent’s house, which was converted to apartments in the 1990’s. About 1915, the company opted to close the original gates to the cemetery replacing them with the present gates to accommodate cars more easily.
Upon entering the cemetery and proceeding along Westvale Avenue, the visitor sees an outstanding collection of hillside mausoleums, many dating from the antebellum period. Designed using Egyptian, Classical, and Romanesque forms, they reflect the Victorian preference for inserting mausoleums into hillsides. The original portion of the cemetery has an extensive collection of ornate, 19th-century funerary monuments throughout. The earliest are often carved in white marble in a variety of Classical and Picturesque styles.
Hollywood is divided primarily into individual family lots with some landscaped common area. Prior to 1861, the company encouraged the erection of ornate cast iron fencing. In addition to fencing, the early lots had plantings and cast iron ornaments for decoration. The cast iron in the cemetery came from a number of Richmond, Baltimore, and Philadelphia foundries. One of the most famous pieces of cast iron is the Newfoundland dog cast by the Hayward Bartlett Company of Baltimore. After the war, the Hollywood Cemetery Company discouraged and in some cases restricted the use of cast iron, and eventually much of the original cast iron was removed to ease maintenance.
At the southern end of the cemetery is President’s Circle, a section of the cemetery on a promontory overlooking Richmond and the James River. In 1858, the Commonwealth of Virginia reinterred the remains of President James Monroe there and erected the centerpiece of the circle: the monumental James Monroe Tomb, a National Historic Landmark. Governor Henry A. Wise led the efforts to return the remains of James Monroe to his native state from the place of his death and burial in 1831 in New York City. Wise’s efforts came after failed attempts to construct a Washington Monument on President’s Circle in 1847, and to erect a monument to Monroe in New York in 1856. After receiving permission from Monroe’s descendants to bring him back to Virginia, Wise obtained state financial support to purchase a site and construct the monument. Monroe’s remains were returned from New York on July 4, 1858 with great pomp and ceremony and a military honor guard.
Wise commissioned Alfred Lybrock, a German born and trained architect, to design a suitable monument to cover Monroe’s remains. In 1859, the Commonwealth of Virginia installed Lybrock‘s design, a granite sarcophagus surrounded by a flamboyant Gothic Revival cast iron canopy. After obtaining bids from a number of foundries, Virginia commissioned the firm of Wood and Perot of Philadelphia to cast the ornamented James Monroe Tomb in place today. Monroe’s tomb firmly established Hollywood as one of the foremost places of burial in Virginia.
John Tyler, 10th President of the United States, is the other former U.S. president buried at Hollywood. As the first vice president to become president after President William Henry Harrison died in office in 1841, Tyler set the precedent for vice presidents assuming the role and status of an elected president. Though he chaired a “Peace Convention” in Washington, DC in 1861 to try to prevent the Civil War, as a southern gentlemen and advocate of States rights, Tyler supported secession when that failed. The Virginia native served as a delegate to the Confederate Provisional Congress in 1861 and had been elected to the Confederate Congress at the time of his death on January 18, 1862.
Hollywood became one of the largest cemeteries in Richmond for military interments during the Civil War. The need for space for military burials prompted the Hollywood Company to acquire the Confederate Section in 1863. After the close of the war in 1866, the United States government refused to allow Confederates in National Cemeteries. This prompted the founding of the Hollywood Ladies Memorial Association to care for those graves already in the cemetery and to reinter dead from other sites. The culmination of the association’s efforts was the reinterment of some 7,000 bodies from the Gettysburg battlefield and the construction of the Confederate Monument, a massive granite pyramid. Charles Dimmock designed the monument in 1869.
Hollywood contains the remains of 28 Confederate generals who died during and after the war. In addition to war dead, survivors are buried in the Confederate Section and throughout the cemetery. The most important Confederate notable in the cemetery is Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The Davis family plot is at the western end of the Ellipse, a development of the 1890s overlooking the river that has some of the most attractive monuments and mausoleums in the cemetery. Davis was reinterred in Hollywood with much fanfare in 1890, and his statue is perhaps the only representational sculpture in the entire cemetery.
After the Civil War, granite became the predominant material in the cemetery. The “Petersburg” granite in the cemetery is from quarries along the James River. The development of carving and polishing machines made granite both ornamental and relatively inexpensive. Granite monuments became the material of choice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this period, concrete coping became the standard edging treatment of lots, and stone coping replaced fencing. The new aesthetic of granite significantly contrasted with the earlier aesthetic of cast iron and marble. C. P. E. Burgwyn designed a major addition in 1877 expanding the cemetery to the west; many fine monuments of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are located in this section.
Hollywood Cemetery has had several expansions and added a major mausoleum in the later 20th century. Burials in the cemetery continue, with a number of funerals every week Monday through Saturday. Hollywood is one of the most visited sites in Richmond, and visitors are welcome in this private cemetery as long as they adhere to the rules established by the Hollywood Company.
Hollywood Cemetery, including the James Monroe Tomb, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 412 South Cherry Street. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The grounds of the cemetery are open to the public seven days a week 7:30am to 5:00pm. For more information, call the cemetery office Monday-Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm at 804- 648-850, or visit the Hollywood Cemetery website. The James Monroe Tomb has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey
Oregon Hill Historic District
Oregon Hill Historic District is a fine 19th and early 20th-century working class neighborhood with architecture and streetscapes that illustrate how industrial workers lived. Located near the Tredegar Iron Works, the area developed as a working class community in the first half of the 19th century. After the Civil War, the neighborhood’s residents helped Richmond regain its stature as a southern industrial and commercial center. Heiress Grace Evelyn Arents played an important role in providing services to the residents of the district.
Oregon Hill is a plateau between two ravines with spectacular views of the James River and Shockoe and Church Hills. The dramatic view from the hill prompted William Byrd III, who owned nearly all of Richmond at the time, to name the hill Belvidere. Byrd built his country house of the same name in the southern portion of the present neighborhood in 1758. The house and its extensive gardens stood until their destruction by fire in 1854.
In the early 19th century, the Harvie family owned what is now Oregon Hill. In 1817, they subdivided the property into streets and lots, with the Sidney subdivision located north of Spring Street and the Belvidera subdivision to the south of that street. In spite of this early town planning, the neighborhood remained an unincorporated rural enclave during the first half of the 19th century. Two buildings from the 1817 era survive, both associated with prominent members of the Society of Friends. The Jacob House at 619 West Cary, built by George Winston, originally stood across from the present location of the building. The 1816 Samuel Pleasants Parsons House at Spring and Belvidere Streets was the residence of an early superintendent of the now demolished Virginia Penitentiary once in the vicinity.
In 1847, the Harvie Family platted their property east of Belvidere and south of the penitentiary as the Oregon Hill subdivision. The community’s name came from the witty geographic observation that a pedestrian excursion trip from the center of Richmond to Oregon Hill seemed the equivalent of a trip to Oregon by the standards of the day. The original portion of Oregon Hill consisted of modest houses east of Belvidere and south of Spring Street. Its early occupants were a mixture of white and African American laborers and artisans. This area, just outside the boundary of the district, was demolished to construct the Virginia War Memorial and state office buildings. The Baker House, a building from this lost early portion of the neighborhood, still survives. Constructed on Belvidere St. in the 1850s by a “Free Person of Color,” the house was moved to 617 S. Cherry Street in the 1920s.
The Belvidera subdivision and a portion of the Sidney subdivision came to be known as Oregon Hill as development expanded westward from Oregon Hill proper. Begun in 1785, the James River and Kanawha Canal provided employment for boatmen and assisted the growth of the iron, flour milling, and quarrying industries along the river. The workers working on the canal and in these industries purchased large lots in the present district to build homes. They found convenient access to their employment via the canal towpath. So many ironworkers lived in the neighborhood that by 1856 Samuel Mordecai referred to it as the home of the “Sons of Vulcan.”
Many of these new residents constructed vernacular two-story side-hall cottages with full or entrance Greek Revival porches. Examples of these houses survive throughout the neighborhood with the largest concentration in the 300 and 400 blocks of South Pine Street.
Several of the antebellum houses in the district reflect the influence of A. J. Downing and his books on “rural” architecture. The Andrews House at 314 South Cherry Street is an outstanding example of an early Italianate house. Constructed around 1850, the two units of the building housed ironworker owner J. G. Andrews and his tenant. At 417 South Pine Street is a fine 1856 Carpenter Gothic house on a larger lot that provides some idea of the early suburban character of the neighborhood.
The area began to lose its suburban character and become a densely developed urban residential community after annexation by the City of Richmond in 1869. Richmond’s growing population and its industrial expansion assured a steady demand for housing in Oregon Hill. Row houses and town houses on narrow lots began to fill in the gardens and large lots that characterized the early era.
The Italianate houses of the post war period often have large ornate cornices and full-widths porches with sawn or turned ornamentation. In the 200 block of South Cherry Street are fine Italianate brick row houses from 1890. Good examples of frame Italianate-style row houses and town houses from the 1870 to 1900 period are located throughout the neighborhood with some of the best in the 300 block of South Pine Street.
As residences in the neighborhood increased, so did commercial buildings. A substantial number date from between 1870 and 1910. These brick and wood frame buildings have storefronts with cornices, kick plates, large windows, and substantial wood or pressed metal cornices. Good examples include the Pine Street Barber Shop at 334 South Pine Street (originally the Pine Street Pharmacy), the 700 block of West Cary Street, and the corner of Albemarle and Laurel Streets. One church building from this period survives, the Gothic-style Pine Street Baptist Church constructed in 1886 at 401 South Pine Street.
Around 1889, the city acquired a parcel of land for the development of a park. Riverside Park, which forms the southern boundary of the neighborhood, is one of a number of hilltop parks with great vistas that date from the late 19th century. The present park keeper’s house and comfort station is from around 1900. The Works Progress Administration built the wide drive and stone retaining walls along Oregon Hill Park in the late 1930s, and the city rebuilt these in 2007 after substantial damage from tropical storm Gaston.
One of the most important groups of buildings is the St. Andrews’s complex at South Laurel Street and Idlewood Avenue. Richmond philanthropist and social reformer Miss Grace Arents funded and supervised construction of the St. Andrew’s Church Complex (243 South Laurel) of 1901-1903, to the designs of the Indiana architect A. H. Ellwood. The complex also includes a parochial school from 1901 and St. Andrew’s Hall at 711 Idlewood Avenue from 1904.
Miss Arents’ work extended throughout the neighborhood well beyond the Episcopal buildings. In 1904, she built the brick Colonial Revival style St. Andrew’s Houses at 912-914 Cumberland Street and 200 and 202 South Linden Street, which constitute one of the earliest examples of subsidized housing in Virginia. She also built a complex of buildings for the Instructive Visiting Nurses Association, dating from 1904 and 1923 at 213 and 219 South Cherry Street, the Noland and Baskervill designed Grace Arents Free Library at 224 South Cherry from 1908, and the 1911 Grace Arents Public School at 600 South Pine Street. Miss Arents also donated the Holly Street Playground on Holly west of Laurel Street, one of the oldest public playgrounds in the City of Richmond.
In spite of several major demolitions in the 1970s and 1990s, Oregon Hill has witnessed vigorous preservation activity led by neighborhood residents. The Oregon Hill Home Improvement Council (OHHIC) organized in 1973, and since then has been responsible for the construction a large number of in-fill units and the rehabilitation of existing units for affordable housing. In 1990, the Oregon Hill Community History Association surveyed and nominated the district to the National Register of Historic Places. Developers and individuals have rehabilitated a large number of buildings in the district in recent years. These efforts have protected the integrity of the district core, making Oregon Hill one of the best-preserved 19th century neighborhoods in Richmond and one of the finest collections of worker housing anywhere.
Oregon Hill Historic District is roughly bounded by W. Cary St., Belvidere St., Oregon Hill Park, S. Cherry St., and S. Linden St. The houses generally are privately owned and not open to the public. Some commercial and religious buildings in the district are open to the public. The Samuel Parsons House at 601 Spring St. has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Tredegar Iron Works
Named for the famous iron works at Tredegar, Wales, Tredegar Iron Works opened in 1837 and stood as Richmond's foremost business concern for more than a century. The city’s location next to a waterpower source, its proximity to working coalfields, and the development of the railroad industry in the 1830's and 1840's, made Richmond the iron and coal center of the South. Iron ore was brought to the city from western Virginia via the James River and Kanawha Canal, which ran past Tredegar.
The iron works' rise to prominence began in 1841, when Joseph R. Anderson first became associated with what then was a nearly bankrupt enterprise. In the middle of a period of severe depression in the American iron industry, Anderson brought Tredegar a measure of prosperity. By 1854, Anderson purchased the facility outright from its shareholders, and J. R. Anderson and Co. supplanted the Tredegar Iron Company to become one of the largest and best-equipped foundries in the nation. The facility manufactured a diverse array of products, including cannon and ordnance for the government, locomotives, and equipment for sugar mills.
The onset of the Civil War in 1861 meant a steady workload for Tredegar. The Confederate authorities selected Richmond as the capital of the Confederacy that year, in part because of Tredegar's irreplaceable value to the fledgling nation. Shortages of both raw material and skilled labor kept Anderson's operation from functioning at full capacity during the war years; nonetheless, Tredegar produced more than 1,000 cannons for the Confederacy. It also made armor plating for use on Confederate ironclad warships, including the famous CSS Virginia. Anderson's shops experimented with submarines, cannon designs, and countless other projects associated with the southern war effort.
Although Anderson survived the Civil War and the collapse of the Confederate government, the financial panic of 1873 and the increasing prevalence of steel over iron brought about the gradual demise of his 19th-century industrial complex. The iron works continued production until 1952, when a fire destroyed the majority of its buildings. Three antebellum buildings have been salvaged and restored: a small office building, a pattern shop, and the much larger cannon foundry that dates from 1861.
Some stabilization and restoration work on Tredegar occurred in the 1970's, and in 2000, the National Park Service developed Tredegar into its primary visitor center for the Richmond-area Civil War battlefields. In 2006, a private nonprofit museum opened in the cannon foundry, now called The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. The center tells the story of the Civil War from Union, Confederate, and African American perspectives.
Tredegar Iron Works is located at 490 Tredegar Street and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file.
Tredegar Iron Works is open to the public, and entrance to it, including the National Park Service Civil War Visitor Center, is free. There is an $8 fee to tour the exhibits of The American Civil War Center. A parking fee of $4 for the closest lot is waived with an admission to The American Civil War Center. Both museums are open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. For further information, call the National Park Service Civil War Visitor Center at 804-771-2145 or The American Civil War Center at 804-780-1865, or visit the Richmond National Battlefield or The American Civil War Center websites. Tredegar Iron Works has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record.
Barton Heights Cemeteries
Barton Heights Cemeteries are six contiguous burial grounds that African American churches and fraternal organizations established beginning in 1815. The six cemeteries are Cedarwood (originally Phoenix Cemetery), Union Mechanics (formerly Union Burial Ground), Methodist, Ebenezer, Sons and Daughters of Ham, and Sycamore. Together they are important reflections of what African Americans achieved in establishing cemeteries for their own. Burial societies helped establish the cemeteries offering death benefits, the most basic of insurance. These burial societies were the precursors of the benevolent organizations and fraternal orders and the black insurance companies of the later 19th and early 20th centuries. The Barton Heights Cemeteries are the final resting place of prominent African Americans in the city.
The burial grounds are on a sloping hillside overlooking Bacon’s Quarter Branch Valley. Today they seem to be one large cemetery, because no boundaries separate them. The first of the Barton Heights Cemeteries dates from 1815, when the Burying Ground Society of the Free People of Color of the City of Richmond established the Phoenix Burial Ground. Subscriptions of $5 to $20 obtained a place of burial for Richmond’s African Americans in the Phoenix grounds.
The Union Burial Ground Society established the second cemetery, Union Mechanics Burial Ground, in 1840. The society bought land from free African Americans Margaret and Peter Roper and sold 14’X14’ lots for $10 to free persons. Society members included the blacksmith Gilbert Hunt, a hero of the catastrophic 1811 Richmond Theater fire, who is buried in the Union Mechanics Burial Ground.
Ebenezer Baptist Church purchased land for the Ebenezer Cemetery as a burial place for its members, c. 1858. The Methodists created their own Methodist Cemetery, where Richard Forrester, one of the first black members of the city’s common council and a member of the Richmond school board rests.
The Sons and Daughters of Ham Burial Ground established another of the cemeteries, probably after emancipation. A number of fraternal organizations such as the Star of the East, the Redeemed Sons of Adam, St. Luke, and the Daughters of Ruth owned plots in the Sons and Daughter of Ham Cemetery. Sycamore Cemetery dates from the late 19th century, the sixth of the contiguous burial grounds.
Through much of the 19th century, the Barton Heights Cemeteries were among the primary places of burial for Richmond’s African Americans. The City of Richmond did create sections in its public burial ground for African American burials in 1816, and later in both its Shockoe Burial Ground (established in 1822) and Oakwood Cemetery (established in 1856).
Barton Heights Cemeteries continued in active use after the Civil War. In the 1880s, the cemeteries became a center for the celebration of a holiday referred to as “Negro Memorial Day,” the day that Richmond fell to Union forces in April 1865. A number of notable African Americans from this time obtained plots and are buried there, including the scholar, D. Webster Davis; Rev. James Holmes, pastor of First African Baptist Church; political leader Robert Austin Paul; and founder of the True Reformer’s Bank, William Washington Brown.
Hundreds of grave markers survive in the burial grounds made of slate, marble, granite, fieldstone, and concrete. Some of these have inscriptions of names and symbols of churches, fraternal orders, and beneficial organizations owning plots in the cemeteries. Several examples are markers that slave owners constructed for their slaves in the cemetery. A few sections of ornamental cast iron fencing surround some of the family burial plots. A number of big trees dot the landscape.
In the closing decades of the 19th century, burial associations and congregations largely filled up their burial grounds, although burials continued in Barton Heights until the 1970’s. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African Americans organized other larger cemeteries in the outlying areas of Richmond, Evergreen, and Woodlawn. In 1934, Barton Heights Cemeteries came into the possession of the City of Richmond.
Concerted efforts to preserve the Barton Heights Cemeteries after years of neglect led to listing in the National Register, the placement of a historical marker, and improvements by the City of Richmond. These improvements include better maintenance of the cemetery and a new fence along St. James Street. In recent years, the Whit Monday (Memorial Day) services have become an important activity in the cemetery.
Barton Heights Cemeteries are located at 1600 Lamb Avenue approximately half a block north of downtown Richmond. The cemeteries are adjacent to the individually listed Shockoe Hill and Hebrew Cemeteries and the Town of Barton Heights Historic District. Barton Heights Cemeteries are open daily from sunrise and sunset. Visit the City of Richmond cemeteries website.
Chestnut Hill - Plateau Historic District
Chestnut Hill and the adjoining subdivision The Plateau were originally the site of Mont Comfort, a farm Richmonder Samuel DuVal owned in the 18th century. The extension of a street across the ravine known as Cannon’s Branch in the 1890s connected the area with neighboring developments. The Northside Viaduct Company built the Fifth Street Viaduct in 1892, and two groups of real estate investors, the Northside Land Improvement Company and the Highland Park Company, bought up land and offered home lots for sale. The Richmond and Manchester Railroad Company operated a streetcar line through the district beginning in 1893. Chestnut Hill is the southeast portion of a larger area known as Highland Park, through which runs Brookland Park Boulevard, the major east-west street connecting north Richmond’s late 19th century streetcar suburbs. The Chestnut Hill—Plateau Historic District is not only significant as a collection of early 20th century residences, but also for its role as an early streetcar suburb development.
Chestnut Hill includes a number of large Victorian residences standing out amongst smaller Arts and Crafts, American Foursquare, and assorted revival-style homes. Carneal and Johnston, one of Richmond’s best-known architectural firms, designed a house for G. L. Beardsley that would become one of the most noteworthy in Chestnut Hill. This Colonial Revival building at 2300 2nd Avenue has far more detail than the typical Foursquare houses, which surround it. It features an inset two-story central porch with a neoclassical frontispiece, polygonal flanking bays, and a wide, “kicked hip” roof.
While Chestnut Hill has historically been primarily residential with businesses clustered around prominent street corners and on Brookland Park Boulevard at the northern edge of the neighborhood. Examples include a c. 1915 two-story brick commercial building at the corner of Spruce Street and 4th Avenue that housed a neighborhood store and another building resembling it at Brookland Park Boulevard and 4th Avenue. The latter once housed a store on the ground floor but is now a Masonic lodge.
Churches tended to occupy corner lots in Chestnut Hill. Two Gothic Revival examples are the Episcopal Church of the Ascension at Custer Street and 4th Avenue and Northside Baptist Church at Victor Street and 3rd Avenue. Richmond architect Charles Robinson designed the granite Northside Baptist building with its high gable roofs and crenellated corner tower. He designed the similar First English Evangelical Lutheran Church on Monument Avenue two years later. The Northside Baptist complex continued to evolve through the 20th century as its congregation expanded, with a 1916 addition along Victor Street and a 1934 educational building at the rear of the church. A new sanctuary along the northeast portion of the original building with a stone façade dates from 1956 . Other historic places in Chestnut Hill include the Armory building at 500 Dove Street and the Holy Cross Cemetery at 1700 1st Street.
The city’s highly successful Neighborhoods in Bloom program instilled new life into the once-neglected Chestnut Hill area. Numerous rehabilitation projects are currently underway restoring many of the old homes to their former glory.
The Chestnut Hill--Plateau Historic District is six tenths of a mile north of downtown Richmond, and is roughly bounded by 1st Ave. on the west, 5th Ave. on the east, Trigg St. on the south, and Brookland Park Blvd. on the north. The houses generally are privately owned and not open to the public.
Ginter Park Historic District
Richmond businessman and philanthropist Lewis W. Ginter conceived Ginter Park, a serene late 19th and early 20th-century neighborhood of stately homes. Born in 1842 in New York City, Ginter became a tobacconist, industrialist, and entrepreneur. His idea for Ginter Park was part of a larger plan for spacious residential communities incorporating schools, churches, and community centers. He formed the Sherwood Land Company with the intent of developing such neighborhoods on the north side of Richmond. His namesake development, Ginter Park, was the first of these efforts. Founder of the American Tobacco Company and one of the most prominent Richmonders of the time, Ginter planned this idyllic suburban community after visiting Melbourne, Australia, where he found business men retreating home to the country at the end of each work day striking. Ginter began to realize his dream of a community of suburban estates -a place where “a gentleman could ride to and from work without the sun’s glare in his face” -by purchasing several hundred acres of farmland in what was then Henrico County.
Major Ginter helped gather momentum for his plan by donating land to Union Theological Seminary as a means of convincing the institution to move from Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville, Virginia. Located at 3401 Brook Road, the seminary remains an institutional anchor and architectural gem in the geographic center of Ginter Park. Ginter also negotiated the extension of an electric trolley line (established in Richmond in 1888) to the future neighborhood in 1895. For a mere five cents, Richmonders could travel between Ginter Park and downtown Richmond in just 15 minutes. In that same year, Ginter oversaw construction of the carpenters’ homes on Cottage Avenue (now Hawthorne Avenue). The largest of these six cottages, at the corner of Walton and Hawthorne, served as quarters for the supervisor of Ginter’s land company.
Lewis Ginter passed away in 1897. His final resting place is in Hollywood Cemetery in an elaborate stone mausoleum with stained glass. Ginter’s niece, Grace Arents, inherited his fortune and carried his dream through to fruition. At that time, the only completed residences were the workmen’s cottages on Chamberlayne and Hawthorne Avenues, the waterworks houses on Westwood Avenue, and the seminary’s faculty residences on and around the Seminary Quadrangle. Thomas Jeffress, former business partner and co-executor of Ginter’s estate, founded the Lewis Ginter Land and Improvement Company in 1906 to promote the sale of residential lots. The first major residential construction boom in Ginter Park began in the first decade of the 20th century. An advertising supplement in the May 3, 1908 Richmond Times-Dispatch showed photographs of 15 of the finest recently-completed houses in the new community, with the 3500 block of Seminary Avenue offering some of the most impressive mansions.
Ginter Park includes house in a variety of late 19th and early 20th-century architectural styles from modest cottages to Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Arts and Crafts/Bungalow, American Foursquare, Queen Anne, Shingle Style, and Tudor Revival. The 1908 Lewis Ginter Community Center at 3421 Hawthorne Avenue is the most prominent example of the Tudor Revival style in Ginter Park. Its first uses were as a town hall and schoolhouse.
Ginter Park's development entailed a host of associated public works improvements. These included new roads constructed of crushed stone from quarries on Hermitage Road, with tile sewer lines laid in the roadbeds; and artesian wells to provide fresh drinking water. The subdivision of predominantly single-family dwellings is laid out in a grid pattern of streets and lined with deciduous shade trees and miles of hedges. The community covers approximately 21 city blocks and has a plan characterized by wide divided boulevards running north and south and large residential lots, generally measuring 100’ wide by 250’ deep. With the exception of changes to Chamberlayne Avenue as a result of its later designation as U.S. Route 1, Ginter Park retains most of its turn-of-the century residential planning qualities, including many of its original stone street signs, that established its reputation as “Queen of the Suburbs.”
In 1912, Ginter Park became an incorporated town, independent from Henrico County. Its first and only mayor, John Garland Pollard, went on to become Governor of Virginia. A park named in his honor marks the original entrance into Ginter Park from the City of Richmond. The city annexed Ginter Park in 1914. The registered historic district encompasses 2900 acres and includes 291 buildings and 179 structures. Every October, the Ginter Park Residents’ Association sponsors a “Harvest Home Tour.”
Ginter Park Historic District is roughly bounded by North Ave., Moss Side and Hawthorne and Chamberlayne Aves., Brookland Park Blvd., and Brook Rd. Most of the buildings are private homes not open to the public. For information about tours and events in the district, visit the Ginter Park Residents' Association website. For additional information, visit the City of Richmond and the Lewis Ginter Recreation Association websites. For information on visiting the Union Seminary at 3401 Brook Rd, which is individually listed in the National Register, call 1-800-229-2990 or 804- 355-0671 or visit the Union Seminary website.
Hermitage Road Historic District
Hermitage Road Historic District is a four-block section of Hermitage Road that is northwest of Richmond’s central business district and just south of the Henrico County line. The district developed between the late 1800s and early 1900s, starting out as an enclave of elegant country estates Richmond’s wealthy built and evolving into an upper and middle-class suburban neighborhood along a streetcar line. Hermitage Road has a landscaped median that replaced the tracks of the streetcar line in 1929. Trees, sidewalks, early-20th century street lamps, and fine homes that are setback on big deep lots line the boulevard. The district’s significance lies in its development patterns and with its largely intact collection of residential architecture dating from 1885 to the late 1930’s. Several buildings are noteworthy as the work of Richmond architect D. Wiley Anderson.
The neighborhood has its roots in speculative development during the late 19th century. The burgeoning population of Richmond created numerous problems for the city, including sanitation and infrastructure issues and racial conflicts. Speculators became interested in the relatively inexpensive land directly north of the city in Henrico County, just as the invention of the electric streetcar made development of suburban neighborhoods a feasible alternative to life in the city. These entrepreneurs were able to capitalize on concerns of the upper and middle class inhabitants of the Richmond touting their suburban developments as a better way of life.
Lewis Ginter, a wealthy businessman who made his money in the tobacco industry, laid the foundation for development in the Hermitage area in 1897 by constructing his own streetcar line, the Lakeside Line, which ran down the center of Hermitage Road and terminated at the Lakeside Zoo and Wheel Club. Several grand estates already existed along Hermitage Road, but infill from three separate neighborhood developments introduced narrower lots and smaller-scale construction to the area and opened it up to the middle class.
The neighborhood contains illustrations of the full range of domestic architectural styles and building forms popular during the late-19th and early-20th centuries with expressions of these styles to meet the needs of an economically diverse population. The buildings along Hermitage Road are predominantly rectangular in plan, center-passage, and double-pile dwellings of three and five bays with hipped or side-gable roofs. The Colonial Revival style is the most prevalent treatment. Typical Colonial Revival side porches, side wings, and/or port cochères are on nearly half of the district’s buildings.
Several noteworthy high style, architect-designed residences of the late-19th and early-20th centuries are in the district. D. Wiley Anderson designed a number of these homes. A prominent architect practicing in Richmond’s Northside during this time, Anderson frequently designed Late Victorian and Colonial Revival-style buildings but was popular for his eclectic combinations. One of the purest examples of his Late Victorian architecture is Holly Lawn, a c. 1900 Queen Anne dwelling at 4015 Hermitage Road. This house is three stories with a compound form and an irregularly shaped roof. Its stylistic details include a buff colored brick façade with decorative detailing, fish scale slate roof shingles, polygonal towers, and roof finials.
Montrose at 4104 Hermitage Road is another example of Anderson’s Late Victorian work. Built for the Edmund Strudwick family c. 1898, this Richardsonian Romanesque home is the only one of its kind on Hermitage. The three-story, four-bay residence has a mansard roof with parapet cross-gables, ashlar stonework, battlements, and Romanesque arches. The house faced the threat of demolition in 1988, but the community rallied and created a local historic district to protect it.
Roseday at 4016 Hermitage Road is an excellent example of Anderson's eclectic designs. Combining Queen Anne and Colonial Revival elements, Anderson juxtaposed a complex Queen Anne building form and roof form against a four-bay façade that gives the impression of Colonial Revival symmetry, and embellished it with Colonial Revival detailing. Anderson designed the c. 1897 home for John Pope, a prominent Richmond businessman and a real estate partner of Lewis Ginter.
Shadyhurst at 4106 Hermitage Road is illustrative of Anderson’s more purely Colonial Revival style. The house dates to c. 1899 and originally belonged to J. Clements Shafer, a private secretary to Lewis Ginter. Characterized by a large wrap-around shed roof porch supported by slender, square columns, it has a standing seam metal roof and a cornice with modillions. The home originally had a three-room servant’s cottage, a stable, and a carriage house, but only the servant’s cottage remains today.
The Hermitage Road Historic District is still a peaceful, elegant neighborhood that remains in many ways a streetcar suburb from more than a century ago. Except for the wide, grassy median that replaced the trolley line running down the center of the avenue, little else has changed. Because of its timelessness, this area is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the city.
Hermitage Road Historic District spans the 3800 to the 4200 block of Hermitage Rd, a north-south thoroughfare in Richmond. The district is two-and-one-half miles north of downtown Richmond and approximately a quarter of a mile away from Interstates 95 and 64. Most buildings are private residences or businesses and are not open to the public. Joseph Bryan Park is adjacent to the district and is open to the public free during daylight hours.
Laburnum Park Historic District
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.
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.
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.
Town of Barton Heights Historic District
The Town of Barton Heights Historic District is a remarkably intact turn-of-the-century residential neighborhood in Richmond. The district was the first of a number of private and speculative developments outlying the city’s northside. Developers touted these neighborhoods as a haven for the renter class of managers and clerks, for whom easy terms would finance first houses, and electric rail service would give quick access to the city center. Barton Heights is significant as one of the first electric trolley suburbs in the United States and is further distinguished as one of the first neighborhoods in the country to be developed using new financing methods such as “rent-to-buy” to attract the middle class to speculative housing.
Established in 1890, the Town of Barton Heights is a development of predominantly Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style homes named after real estate speculator James H. Barton. The town rapidly became a success. Newly laid streetcar lines made the area accessible from downtown Richmond, luring aspiring homeowners and their families to the affordable and less congested hinterlands of the city. Released in 1906, a brochure extolled the wholesome living offered by this early suburban neighborhood:
Barton Heights is a model residence town. It has no saloons, no slaughterhouses, no manufacturies, no dirt-breeding or disease-breeding nuisances of any sort…Its citizens are interested in a variety of important enterprises, but these are conducted in the main in the big city to which the town is immediately joined, and from whose noise and heat and dust and turmoil these toilers gladly escape to the quiet, peaceful and beautiful homes they have built or bought on the “Heights.”
The tight-knit community survived the panic and flight of its founder in 1896, later welcomed annexation by the city in 1914, and continued to prosper as a middle-class neighborhood through the mid-1900s.
Large Queen Anne style frame dwellings dominate the district, though there are some masonry commercial buildings on North Avenue and Roberts Street. Other residential styles include Late Victorian, Italianate, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow/Craftsman. The demolition of early churches and schools that served the community beginning in the 1920s made way for larger, more centralized institutional and civic buildings constructed in the surrounding area.
Corner Minor, James Barton’s former estate at 2112 Monteiro Street is one of the two most prominent houses in the neighborhood. Built on the largest lot in the area, this stuccoed frame Queen Anne style house has turrets, multi-sided bays, ornamental block entry posts, and a port cochere.
The Hazelgrove House at 2020 Barton Avenue is among the best-preserved examples of the Queen Anne style. This large, hipped-roof single-family dwelling has a three-story hexagonal tower and a wrap-around porch with spindle frieze and turned columns and balusters. Its asymmetrical massing and variety of window sizes, material textures, and colors are typical of this picturesque style. The slate roof features polychrome floral designs.
The Late Victorian style buildings in Barton Heights are mostly wood frame, detached, single-family houses with steep pitched gable roofs covered with standing-seem metal. In contrast to the neighborhood’s Queen Anne houses, these are more vertically oriented, with less exuberant decoration. Their one-story porches span the façade rather than wrapping around one or two sides. Some have a false mansard roof on the façade only.
Barton Heights includes two rows of Late Victorian-style houses and a few other isolated examples. A c. 1890 group of small-scale, L-shaped, Late Victorian dwellings is on a single block at 1600, 1604, 1606, 1610, and 1614 Sewell Street. These steep-roofed houses feature flared eaves with curved rafter ends. Each of the houses originally had two-over-two double-hung windows, which accentuated each house’s vertical character. The houses at 203, 205, 207, and 209 Wellford (c. 1900) feature false mansard roofs with floral designs in polychrome slate. The roof cornices have molded metal cornices. The one-story hipped porch roofs once had spindle friezes and sawn brackets; these elements remain intact at 209 Wellford.
The city’s highly successful Neighborhoods in Bloom program instilled new life into the once-neglected Barton Heights neighborhood. Numerous rehabilitation projects are currently underway restoring many of the old homes to their former glory.
The Town of Barton Heights Historic District is located less than two miles north of downtown Richmond and is roughly bounded by the 1900 to the 2400 blocks of Barton, Fendall, Greenwood, Lamb, Miller, Monteiro, North, and Rose and includes their cross streets: Dove, Home, Monor, Poe, Wellford, Wickham, and Yancey. The houses generally are privately owned and not open to the public.
Virginia Union University & Belgian Building
Virginia Union University is a historical black college on a 65 acre campus in north Richmond. The name of the university derives from the “union” of a number of smaller African American colleges over the years. The historic core of the campus consists of seven buildings constructed between 1899 and 1901. They are of local Richmond granite and are in a Richardsonian Romanesque style. The ashlar stonework of the complex is of exceptionally good quality with the names of the buildings inscribed in the stonework. Architect John H. Coxhead of Buffalo, New York designed the buildings. The layout of the campus follows the fashion of campus planning by post Civil War architects of land grant colleges.
The merger of Richmond and Washington D.C. Baptist Theological seminaries led to the organization of Virginia Union University in 1896. This unification represented the culmination of efforts of individuals and organizations to provide higher education for freed blacks after the Civil War. Over time, several other African American institutions have merged with Virginia Union University. Northern philanthropists funded the 1899 building campaign that constitutes the core of the campus, as they did for a number of African American institutions such as Tuskegee and Hampton. The buildings’ names honor their respective donors.
Over the years, Virginia Union University has graduated a number of prominent black leaders. These include Samuel Lee Gravel, the first African American admiral in the United States Navy; Henry L. Marsh, the first African American mayor of Richmond; and L. Douglas Wilder, the first African American governor in the United States.
The Belgian Building was originally built as part of the Belgian exposition center for the 1939 New York World's Fair then reconstructed in 1941 on the campus of Virginia Union University in Richmond. The building’s architects, Victor Bourgeois and Leo Stijnen, worked under the direction of Professor Henry van der Velde, one of the most important architects of the 20th century and a pioneer of the modernist movement. The Belgian government planned to reassemble the building as a university library back in Belgium once the fair was over. Instead, because of the risk of shipping it in the midst of World War II while Belgium was under Nazi occupation, the Belgian government donated the building to Virginia Union University, a prominent African American institution. The original architects directed its reconstruction at VUU, where it was dubbed the Belgian Friendship Building.
The building, with its clean lines and geometrical patterns characteristic of the modernist movement, is an important example of the International style. Erected on a campus with many older buildings of Virginia granite, this Modernist two-story building with its 160 ft. high tower became one of the most defining architectural features of the VUU campus. The exterior of the building is faced with red tiles above a black slate-faced water table. The choice of materials is symbolic of Belgian unity. It features an impressive sandstone sculptural relief of the Belgian Congo Occupation.
The building housed the university’s library, the William J. Clark Library, from post-World War II until 1997. Its bell tower is named Vann Tower for Robert L. Vann, an alumnus and founder of the Pittsburgh Courier. The Belgian Building is attached by a connecting wing to Barco-Stevens Hall, which originally was part of the building but later detached. The name given the gymnasium/auditorium honors the memory of VUU Vice President John W. Barco and Professor Wesley A. Stevens.
In recent years, the building has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation and now houses the fine arts center and theater for the university. The Richmond architectural firm SMBW oversaw the renovation work.
Virginia Union University is in the near north side of Richmond in between Chamberlayne Avenue on the north and Broad Street on the south. The Belgian Building is located at 1500 N. Lombardy St. at the intersection of Lombardy and Brooke Rd., on the Virginia Union University campus. The building currently holds the university’s fine arts center and is open to the public. Student-led campus tours depart from the Office of Admissions. For more information, call 804-257-5600 or visit the university's website.
Leigh Street Baptist Church
Well-known Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan designed the Leigh Street Baptist Church. Dedicated in 1857, the handsome Greek Revival style building is a fine example of its style. The church is also historically significant as an active part of the community and for its good works that earned it the name “The Church of the Helping Hand.”
In the early 19th century, residential neighborhoods in the Church Hill section of Richmond began to develop as “walking suburbs” of Richmond. Richmond’s Baptists attended the First Baptist Church on Broad Street near the Capitol that dated from 1790. First Baptist was on the other side of Shockoe Creek and Shockoe Valley from the Church Hill neighborhood, and the difficulty in getting to the church naturally prompted Church Hill residents to establish their own church.
In 1854, the Baptists in the Church Hill area organized Leigh Street Baptist Church with missionary Reuben Ford as its first pastor. The congregation grew rapidly. The need for a substantial new sanctuary prompted the congregation to obtain the design for a new church building in 1854 from Samuel Sloan, a prominent Baptist layman best known for his architectural pattern books.
The congregation followed the taste of Richmond congregations from many denominations during the late antebellum period in choosing a Greek Revival temple-form building. Leigh Street Baptist, as completed to Sloan’s design, was one of the finest Greek Revival sanctuaries of its day with its full portico and six fluted columns in the Greek Doric order. The exterior of the brick building is clad in stucco rendered to resemble stone. Like many buildings of its time, the church has a raised basement for meeting rooms on the first floor. The church has ornate cast iron stair railings dating from the construction of the present granite porch in the 1880's and a fence that is original from the 1850's period. The congregation added an attached education building around 1890.
The church has had a strong congregation active in the community and distinguished pastors. The Leigh Street Baptist Church congregation still occupies the building, which is an important landmark on 25th Street.
Leigh Street Baptist Church is located at 517 North 25th St. at Leigh St. The church is still an active place of worship open to the public for worship services. Call 804-648-0415 for information.
Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District
Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District encompasses three of the city's east end neighborhoods–Chimborazo, Oakwood, and Glenwood Park. The district is noteworthy for its associations with the Civil War and as an early speculative residential development that followed the introduction of a local trolley line at the end of the 19th century. The predominantly residential area contains a significant collection of late 19th and early to mid-20th century brick and frame dwellings in an eclectic mixture of Late Victorian, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles.
The district was largely undeveloped prior to the Civil War, but a few houses and the Oakwood Cemetery remain from that period. When the Civil War began, Confederate engineers built an earthen fort just southeast of Oakwood Cemetery. Known as Battery #4 of the Inner Defenses, the fort saw no action during the war and does not survive today. Confederate authorities also established a sprawling hospital atop Chimborazo Hill. Organized into five divisions, the 40 acre hospital complex, one of the largest Civil War military hospitals, even included a bakery, a brewery, and icehouses. Chimborazo Hospital pioneered the utilization of the pavilion system and the large-scale use of women as matrons and ward attendants, establishing permanent changes in the field of medicine. Within weeks of the surrender at Appomattox, Chimborazo Hospital and its buildings were turned over to the Freedmen’s Bureau to provide temporary shelter for black families in the city.
In 1874, the City of Richmond acquired the old hospital site for use as a park and developed Chimborazo Park in accord with other picturesque public landscapes originating throughout the United States in the mid-19th century. Today the National Park Service administers the Chimborazo Medical Museum, which is in a Classical Revival-style building in the northwest corner of the park that Peter J. White designed in 1901 to serve the United States Weather Bureau. Chimborazo became one of the Civil War's largest military hospitals. Although the hospital no longer exists, the museum on the same grounds contains original medical instruments and personal artifacts. A scale model of the hospital and a short film on medical and surgical practices and the caregivers that comforted the sick and wounded provide visitors additional insights into the historic role of the hospital.
Oakwood Cemetery is north of the hospital site at the opposite end of the district. Developed in 1854 and modeled after the curvilinear design of Hollywood Cemetery, the cemetery became the burial ground for numerous Confederate soldiers. Perhaps as many as 17,000 soldiers are interred in the cemetery, which includes a number of markers and other features of high artistic value. Evergreen Cemetery abuts the eastern boundary of Oakwood Cemetery. Formed in 1891, the express purpose of the Evergreen Cemetery Association was to establish a black cemetery that would rival Hollywood Cemetery. True to its mission, Evergreen became the final resting place of many of Richmond’s leading African American citizens, including Maggie Lena Walker, John Mitchell, Jr., and Rev. Andrew Bowler.
By 1896, the Richmond Traction Company operated two trolley lines in the area. This prompted the subdivision of several large tracts of land. The district continued to develop through the 1940s, but slowed after World War II.
Houses in the Italianate, Late Victorian, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles are throughout the district. The Italianate-style dwellings are among the oldest frame houses in the neighborhood and display the characteristic features of decorative cornices and porches and elongated windows on the first floor. The residence at 617 North 30th Street is illustrative of examples of the style throughout the district. The house is a two-story, three-bay frame dwelling with a bracketed and dentiled cornice with a plain panel frieze. It has an elaborate one-story, three-bay front porch with turned posts, sawn brackets, star-motif fan brackets, and a picketed balustrade. Many of the Italianate residences are double houses, as are those in the grouping at 622-628 North 30th Street. Other examples are at 3015 M Street, 617 North 30th Street, the 500 and 600 blocks of North 31st Street, and the 500 and 900 blocks of North 32nd Street.
The Late Victorian dwellings in the neighborhood are typically two stories in height with elaborate cornices and decorative porches. Some of the houses in this style have false mansard roofs and projecting bays, as do the dwellings at 3302, 3308, and 3312 East Broad Street. At 3315-3321 East Marshall Street are fine Victorians in brick, which have elaborate wooden cornices with sawn brackets, dentils, paneled friezes, and pierced frieze vents.
Examples of Colonial Revival-style architecture sit in the 300 block of North 32nd Street, the west side of the 500 block of North 33rd Street, and the east side of the 600 block and the west side of the 700 block of Chimborazo Boulevard. The brick dwellings in the 500 block of North 30th Street are also typical of the Colonial Revival houses in the neighborhood. Richmond architect D. Wiley Anderson designed the group of houses at 518-526 North 30th Street in 1910, and C. W. Nicholson designed a similar grouping of houses at 519-523 North 30th in 1911.
The predominant architectural form throughout the district is an eclectic blending of the Italianate, Late Victorian, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles. John T. J. Melton, a prolific builder in the area, constructed a house for R. S. Jenkins at 314 North 32nd Street in 1907, and another at 316 North 32nd Street in 1908 for Sarah J. Clarke. Both typify the mixture of styles seen throughout the district. A grouping of early apartment buildings in the 600 block of North 32nd possesses a combination of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival elements. Built in 1907 by the Fulton Brick Works, these buildings have false mansard roofs with soldier-course stringcourses below the attic level, and box cornices with brackets that run about the soldier course. The buildings also have end towers with decorative brickwork and windows with corbelled sills and jack arches.
The grand houses on Broad Street fronting Chimborazo Park take this blending of styles to an even higher level of articulation. The dwellings at 3504 and 3506 East Broad Street that H. E. Mills built in 1910 combine Queen Anne and Classical Revival elements. The home at 3504 has an “iron-spot” brick façade, ashlar granite sills and lintels at all the window and door openings, and a front porch with Scamozzi columns. The false mansard roof has a stepped parapet at the edge and a dentiled cornice. The second house, 3506, has a three-sided projecting bay with a steeply pointed conical slate roof. The one-story, two-bay front porch has a tile deck and brick steps, Corinthian columns, a picketed balustrade, and a dentiled cornice.
Despite the deterioration or changes to some of the buildings in the Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District over the years, the district still possesses a high level of architectural integrity and interest. Oakwood Cemetery, a municipal cemetery, remains as does privately owned Evergreen Cemetery. The National Park Service’s Richmond National Battlefield Park maintains its offices at the Chimborazo Medical Museum in the district. Since its listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, Oakwood-Chimborazo has undergone significant revitalization. Iinterest in preservation has led to the rehabilitation many of the historic resources throughout the neighborhood.
St. John's Church Historic District and St. John's Episcopal Church
St. John’s Church Historic District is the site of the founding of the City of Richmond, and the neighborhood contains a fine collection of historic buildings. St. John’s Episcopal Church gave the district its name. The church is important in the history of the nation, the state, and the city.
In the 1730s, William Byrd II founded the town of Richmond. Byrd is thought to have been inspired by the hilltop view from what is now Libby Hill Park at the southeast corner of the district at North 19th and East Franklin Streets and to have named his new community Richmond, after Richmond Hill in Surrey, England. The English Richmond Hill is on the banks of the Thames on a site similar to Libby Hill in Virginia on the banks of the James River. For many years, Libby Hill was commonly known as Richmond Hill.
Byrd commissioned the surveyor William Mayo to lay out the town of Richmond in 1733. Mayo’s 1737 plan included all of the St. John’s Church Historic District west of 25th Street and south of Broad Street. Mayo set out the town in a series of “squares” or blocks consisting of four half-acre lots bounded by right-angled streets. Mayo’s plan followed the standard pattern of town planning used in colonial Virginia and established the grid and axis (orientation of the street) continued in expansions of the town plan to the west and north.
In 1741, Byrd donated a half square at the northwest corner of East Grace and North 25th Streets for construction of an Anglican Church for Henrico Parish. St. John’s Episcopal Church was the only Episcopal Church in Richmond until 1814. Its site at the highest point in the colonial town is still one of the loftiest in the modern city. The name of the historic district and the neighborhood derive from the church, as does much of the east end of Richmond, which to this day is called Church Hill.
St. John’s Church is nationally significant for its associations with the American Revolution. Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech in the church on March 23, 1775. He called to arms the over 100 Virginia colonial leaders gathered in the church in March 1775 for the Virginia Convention, including Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, and Peyton Randolph. These delegates passed Patrick Henry’s resolutions, and within a month the shots fired at Lexington and Concord signaled the beginning of the Revolution.
The original portion of St. John’s Church is its southernmost section oriented to the east in the tradition of the Anglican Church. Dating from 1742, the building is the oldest wood-frame place of worship in Virginia. Construction of the nave in 1773 expanded the church to approximately its present configuration and reoriented the sanctuary. A number of alterations took place in the 19th century, including the addition of the present church tower and steeple in 1896, which replaced an early 19th-century tower and steeple. The brick schoolhouse in the southwest corner of the churchyard was one of the first schools for black children in Richmond.
St. John’s Churchyard was the first public burial ground in Richmond. A 1799 addition of two lots expanded the churchyard to a full city square. The burial ground was full by the middle of the 19th century. Distinguished citizens from Richmond’s early history lie within the churchyard, which contains many notable examples of early funerary art. The tall retaining walls around the church are evidence of the extensive regrading of streets in Richmond during the 19th century.
In the 18th century, Dr. Richard Adams obtained much of the property in the district, after which Richmonders referred to the area interchangeably as Adams, Church, or Richmond Hill. Adams’ descendants expanded the Richmond grid north of Broad Street and east of 25th Street early in the 19th century. Despite the grid expansion, the St. John’s Church neighborhood remained relatively isolated and undeveloped into the early decades of the 19th century. Houses from this period include the Anthony Turner House at 2520 East Franklin Street, a fine side-hall brick house dating from 1809. That same year Dr. John Adams built the brick double houses at 2501 East Grace Street. Carrington Row of 1818 at 2307 East Broad Street is a handsome group of row houses with stucco facades rendered to create the illusion of stone. The Ann Carrington House of 1810 at 2306 East Grace Street and the Hillary Baker House of 1816 at 2302 East Grace Street are also important early brick buildings. Little development occurred between 1820 and 1840. The Morris Cottages, a pair of wood frame vernacular cottages at the northeast corner of 25th and Grace Streets, are a notable exception.
The neighborhood experienced a period of tremendous growth and prosperity in the 1840s and 1850s. This period saw the construction of Greek Revival row houses and town houses characterized by entrance porticoes with square or round Doric or Ionic columns and stepped parapet roofs. Rear or side porches also typify the residential architecture of these decades. Examples of the Greek Revival vary from modest buildings throughout the neighborhood to large town houses and mansions. Two impressive center hall mansions with large two-story rear porches overlook Main Street and the James River at 2611 and 2617 East Franklin Street. The 1849 Hardgrove House at 2300 East Grace Street is a good example of a large, three-story Greek Revival town house. Like others from the Greek Revival era, this home has the original outbuilding and a kitchen/slave quarter in the rear. More modest two-and-one-half story buildings are scattered throughout the district, many of them in the 2800 block of East Grace Street.
In the late 1850s, the Italianate style with its bracketed cornices and full-width porches began to appear in the neighborhood. The Taylor-Wilkins House of 1859 at 2209 East Grace Street is an excellent example of an Italianate mansion from the antebellum period. The house has a massive bracketed cornice and cupola. A one-story full-length porch on the street front has a larger counterpoint in the massive two-story verandah on the rear that affords a magnificent view of the James River, Shockoe Valley, and Tobacco Row areas below.
Over the course of the 19th century, religious congregations built several houses of worship in the neighborhood. In 1859, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond constructed the fine Gothic Revival St. Patrick’s Catholic Church at 215 North 25th Street to serve the growing Irish immigrant population in the east end of Richmond. The Richmond Hill Retreat Center at 2209 East Grace Street from 1879 was originally the Monte Maria Convent. The Romanesque chapel of the convent is a restored part of the present-day retreat center. Third Presbyterian Church of 1874 at 2517 East Broad Street is a modest example of the Gothic Revival style, since 1987 adaptively reused as condominiums.
In 1851, the City of Richmond established a system of municipal public squares and acquired Eastern Square (now Libby Hill Park). In the decades that followed, attractive residences began to appear on Franklin and 19th streets across from the park. The city expanded Libby Hill Park to its current configuration in the 1870s. City Engineer Wilfred Cutshaw designed and implemented improvements in the 1880s and designed the Confederate Soldier’s and Sailor’s monument in 1894 at 29th and Libby Terrace. Richmond artist William Ludwell Sheppard did the sculpture at the monument. The city acquired Taylor Hill Park, east of 21st Street and north of Franklin Street around 1890, and Cutshaw modestly improved it over time.
St. John’s Church Historic District survived the Civil War undamaged. In the decades after the war, the neighborhood witnessed its greatest period of development. Row houses and town houses typified building in this period. Most are of brick, with a few frame buildings interspersed. Many of the district’s streetscapes date from this time.
During this period, the Italianate became the predominant architectural style of the neighborhood. The many Italianate buildings include rows, double houses, and detached town houses with ornate bracketed and modillioned cornices, and full-width porches. Most porches are of wood with turned posts and scroll saw brackets.
A smaller but significant number of buildings have cast iron porches, many the products of Richmond iron foundries. These cast iron porches have delicate posts combined with brackets and balustrades decorated with ornate geometric and/or botanical designs. Excellent examples of Richmond cast iron porches are on the St. Patrick’s Rectory of 1869 at 213 North 25th Street and 2818-2820 East Grace Street, which dates from 1899.
In the 1880s, the Queen Anne style with its projecting bays and lavish ornamentation became popular in the district. The finest grouping in this style is the Mann-Netherwood block at 2601-2619 East Broad Street from 1888 by the builder and a stonemason for whom the block is named. These buildings have ornate wood porches and facades that combine stone and brick.
Development of the neighborhood was largely complete by 1900, although some 140 buildings date from the first decades of the 20th century. These include a number of residences in a simplified Colonial Revival style, several two-story commercial buildings, some industrial buildings, a few apartment buildings, and several schools. Noteworthy from this era is the Church Hill Bank at 2500 East Broad Street. J. Bascom Rowlett designed this fine Neoclassical building clad with Indiana limestone in 1929. Architects Carneal and Johnston’s Bellevue School of 1913 at 2301 East Grace Street is a fine example of the Gothic Revival. Marcellus Wright Sr. designed the Georgian Revival St. Patrick’s Catholic School at 2600 East Grace Street.
The district contains two notable buildings from the mid-20th century. The Nolde Bakery building at 2523 East Broad Street dates to around 1920 and has a 1953 Moderne façade. The WRVA studio by Phillip Johnson at 21st and Grace Streets is a Modernist landmark from 1970.
St. John’s Church Historic District became the center of Richmond’s historic preservation movement in the 1950s. In 1956, a group of Richmond preservationists organized the Historic Richmond Foundation, which bought and rehabilitated a number of neighborhood buildings. In 1957, the City of Richmond created the Richmond Commission of Architectural Review and designated St. John’s Church as the first Richmond Old and Historic District. St. John’s Church is one of the best-preserved 19th-century neighborhoods in the United States and is a testament to this long-standing preservation effort.
St John’s Church Historic District is roughly bounded by North 21st St. to the west; E. Broad Street and Marshall Sts. to the north; North 32nd St. to the east; and E. Franklin St. to the south. St. John’s Episcopal Church, a National Historic Landmark is at E. Broad at 25th Sts. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The district is a residential neighborhood accessible to visit by vehicle or on foot and has a tour of homes every December. St. John’s Episcopal Church is open for public worship and offers tours of the historic building daily for a small fee. Call 804-648-5015 for information, and visit St. John's Church website. St. John’s Episcopal Church and a number of buildings in the district have been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey. The Richmond Hill Retreat Center (the former Monte Maria Convent) is open daily for services and for tours and retreats by appointment by calling 804-783-7903. Visit the Richmond Hill website.
Union Hill Historic District
Union Hill Historic District is located in the city’s east end. The streets of the district follow the terrain rather than the rigid grid of the rest of the Richmond, creating interesting triangular blocks that give the neighborhood a unique character found nowhere else in the city. Union Hill is primarily a residential district, though a few churches and commercial buildings are concentrated primarily along 25th and Venable Streets. The neighborhood is significant for its distinctive pattern of residential development and its extraordinary collection of modest 19th century domestic housing.
Early development in Union Hill occurred at the beginning of the 19th century, when John Adams and Benjamin Mosby laid out lots around Venable Street, a part of the stage coach road to Williamsburg. Very few people constructed homes in the district at this time, but most of these were attractive, modest worker dwellings. The area eventually experienced tremendous growth during the late antebellum period. Some of the neighborhood’s more affluent residents built investment properties on the hill to accommodate the growing number of working class residents. The neighborhood was both an economically and racially mixed suburb known to be a stable and safe community.
Annexed by the city in 1867, Union Hill continued to grow throughout the period following the Civil War. Several events contributed to its rapid growth between 1865 and 1917. The filling and grading of the great ravine at the southern edge of the neighborhood in 1882 to create Jefferson Avenue ended the isolation of Union Hill from the rest of the city. In 1888, the Sprague Electric Railway Motor Company designated Jefferson Avenue as a trolley route facilitating commuting for existing residents and making the area more attractive to potential inhabitants. The new accessibility to Union Hill prompted construction of a number of churches, businesses, and industries in the area. Substantially built out by World War I, Union Hill saw very little residential development throughout the rest of the 20th century.
The oldest surviving building in the district is the Adam Miller house at 2410 Venable Street. Constructed in 1824, this two-story, Flemish-bond brick dwelling rests on a raised foundation and has a single pile, side hall plan. Nearly 80 buildings from the late antebellum period still stand in the neighborhood. The houses in the 800 block of North 25th Street are typical Union Hill dwellings of this time. Two-story, frame, Greek Revival-style residences set on raised brick foundations with shallow gable roofs, interior end chimneys, and small porticoes at the entrances were common. The buildings all have side-hall plans and are for the most part three bays wide. Well-executed brick examples, with similar proportions and details, are at 616 North 21st Street, 701 North 23rd Street, and 801 North 24th Street. The Mettert houses, 2223 and 2225 Venable Street, built as investment properties, are atypical because of their center hall plans. Union Hill also contains a collection of Greek Revival cottages. All are modest one-story dwellings with gable roofs. Some are set on raised foundations. Several of these cottages are on North 23rd Street, including 611, 622, and 705.
Between 1870 and 1890, Italianate became the dominant style of residential architecture in the neighborhood. These buildings are mostly two-story three-bay frame dwellings with shed roofs and full façade porches. Diminutive brackets garnish their otherwise plain box cornices, and porches often have ornamental sawn brackets and turned posts. The dwellings at 509 and 511 North 21st Street, 517 Mosby Street, and 2000 Cedar Street are examples. The home at 2215 Venable Street is one of the few brick Italianate dwellings on Union Hill. It has a more vertical presentation and a slightly more elaborated cornice that is continued and amplified in Late Victorian houses.
Around 1890, the houses of Union Hill take on a more vertical appearance and have more elaborate sawn work porches and cornices. Many fine examples of Late Victorian brick and frame dwellings are on Venable Street. Of particular note are the frame houses at 2117 and 2119 Venable Street with their delicate brackets, sawn balustrades, and iron cresting on the porch and roof. Hiram Oliver built a group of frame-attached houses in the closing decade of the 19th century in the 2200 block of M Street. They are noteworthy for their square bays with pedimented roofs and sawn work porches.
During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Union Hill and adjacent neighborhoods in Richmond's east end underwent an economic and demographic transformation. Union Hill became impoverished and neglected losing historic buildings through deterioration and demolition. Fortunately, the area was untouched by the wide-scale demolition and redevelopment projects associated with urban renewal programs in other parts of the city. Despite changes, Union Hill retains its unique character and historic quality. Though still a fragile neighborhood, renewed interest in historic preservation has led to the rehabilitation of many of the architectural gems in the district.
Union Hill Historic District is roughly bounded by Mosby St. to the west, Carrington St. to the north, 25th St. to the east, and Jefferson Ave. to the south. The district is about a quarter of a mile northeast of downtown Richmond.
The Woodward House dates to the early days of Richmond and is the last surviving building from the once-bustling James River port of Rocketts Landing. A portion of the house possibly predates the city’s incorporation in 1782. John Woodward, Captain of the Sloop Rachell and other vessels operating out of Rocketts, lived in the house from c. 1800 to c. 1820. Located at the corner of Williamsburg Avenue and 31st Street (then Bloody Run and Elm Street), the house is of wood frame construction with a brick foundation and three exterior end chimneys. Although it has seen several alterations and additions, the core of the house is from the Federal period. The original one-story, two-room cottage grew to 2½ stories in height in 1828-29 and had the dormered gable roof and two of the chimneys added at this time. Late 19th or early 20th-century changes included the addition of second story rooms on the river side and a small frame porch on the front.
The house remains the last significant building representing what was
once a dense and lively section of old Richmond, a neighborhood where
ship captains and sailors, harbor masters and tobacco inspectors, tavern
keepers, draymen, and assorted craftsmen and laborers lived and worked
during Richmond’s first century. The Woodward House is one of the
oldest frame dwellings in the city.
This simple frame dwelling, although easily overlooked compared to more sophisticated landmarks, stands as a rare architectural survival of early Richmond and the last remnant of the busy maritime and mercantile community of Rocketts.
The Woodward House is located at 3017 Williamsburg Avenue and is a not open to the public.
Built for tobacco manufacturer William Barret in 1844, the Barret House is a large and elaborate Greek Revival mansion located in the heart of downtown Richmond. The house is on 5th Street in the first riverside neighborhood to be developed in the city. Mr. Barret achieved his success as the original manufacturer of “Lucky Strike” chewing tobacco. It is said that when he died in 1870 he was the wealthiest man in the city. After Barret's death, French consul, Vicomte de Sibour, rented the mansion during his residency in Richmond. He engaged in the business of buying tobacco for his government and was well-known for his colorful parties. His children were part of the infamous “Fifth Street Gang”.
The Barret House is larger and more embellished but similar to the Scott-Clarke House of 1841 immediately to the north on the same block. The rectangular house has a shallow hipped roof with a slender brick chimney in each corner. The main facade facing 5th Street is symmetrical with a small Ionic entrance portico. The most frequently-noted feature is the three-story rear porch, one of the best examples in the city of a rear two-story colonnade. The porch originally offered excellent views of downtown Richmond and the James River. Over time rear porches would become more utilitarian, but early Richmond houses often focused more attention on the garden façade than on the street front.
The originally frescoed, high-ceilinged interior of the house has a central hall and a curved, cantilevered, mahogany staircase. Other notable features of the property include a brick auxiliary building in the rear, an impressive retaining wall of Richmond granite, and the surviving cast-iron fence with pineapple-topped posts around the property. The secondary brick building originally housed the servants on the upper floor and stables on the ground level.
Legendary Richmond preservationist Mary Wingfield Scott saved the house from demolition by purchasing it c. 1935 along with her cousin, Mrs. John H. Bocock. Ms. Scott donated the building to the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects (VAIA), which actively restored it beginning around 1980. The Barret House was home to VAIA from circa 1980 until 2005, when the Society moved to the renovated Branch House at 2501 Monument Avenue.
The Barret House is located at 15 S. 5 St. Today the building is used for commercial office space and is not open to the public. The Barret House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
The Bell Tower at the southwest corner of Capitol Square was originally a guardhouse for the public guard and a signal tower for emergencies and meetings. While the tower is architecturally significant, the building is also noteworthy because of its history and its place in Capitol Square. Designed by builder Levi Swan and erected in 1824, the square Neoclassical building has one bay surrounded by blind arches on each side and is topped by an arcaded octagonal belvedere. The brick tower is laid in Flemish bond and dressed in Acquia sandstone.
This building replaced an earlier wooden bell tower that stood closer to the Capitol. At the time of its construction, the current Bell Tower was next to the barracks of the Virginia Capitol Guard, the predecessors of the Capitol Square Police, and served to warn the city in case of fire or other emergency. During the Civil War, the bell in the tower rang to alert Richmond to the approach of
the Federal gunboat Pawnee and on February 7, 1864 to sound the alarm for Dahlgren’s Raid, a Union assault on the Confederate capital.
The Bell Tower fell into disuse in the late 19th century, but interest in historic preservation in the early 20th century prompted its restoration. The building now houses a tourist information office, and the bell in the tower calls the Virginia General Assembly into session, as it has since the 1930s.
The Bell Tower is located on Capitol Square, the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol, at Bank and 10th Sts. The grounds are open to the public 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday-Saturday, and Sunday 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The Bell Tower is open 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday -Friday. Walking tours are available. For more information, call 804-698-1788. The Bell Tower has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Block 00-100 East Franklin Street Historic District
Franklin Street from Capitol Square to Monument Avenue was historically a street of fashionable residences in the 19th century and the opening decades of the 20th century. Laid out in 1780, the portion of Franklin Street that is in the Block 00-100 East Franklin Street Historic District was a part of the expansion of Richmond when it became the Virginia capital. The area remained largely undeveloped until the late antebellum period, but what remains from that period is an interesting collection of mid to late-19th century residential buildings.
The oldest building in the district is the William C. Allen Double House at 4-6 East Main Street, an outstanding example of an antebellum Greek Revival style double house. In the early 20th century, the Historic Richmond Foundation extensively altered the building, which is now restored to its original appearance. Boston architect Isaiah Rogers designed the Kent-Valentine House of 1845 at 12 East Franklin Street as a large urban villa. A portico and additions in 1904 significantly altered its appearance from a Picturesque to a Classical Revival building.
Most of the homes date from after the Civil War. The dwellings on Main and Grace Streets are attached row houses. Those on Franklin Street are detached town houses. Stylistically, the Italianate became predominant in the decades after the Civil War. An outstanding example of this style is the Bosher Mansion at 2 East Franklin Street. This 1886 building is an ornate version of the style at the height of its popularity.
The close of the 19th century saw construction of several row houses and town houses in a composite of the Queen Anne and Romanesque styles. The best is at 7 West Franklin Street. This house is of rusticated stone and brick with a noteworthy rusticated porch and massive corner tower.
The 00 to 100 block of West Franklin Street is an important surviving residential cluster of the Franklin Street corridor. The buildings in the district are good examples of 19th-century urban house types: row houses, town houses, and an urban villa.
The Block 00-100 East Franklin Street Historic District is roughly bounded by 1st, Main, Foushee, and Grace Sts. It is located in the center of downtown Richmond between the Jefferson Hotel and Linden Row. Private homes generally are not open to the public. The Kent Valentine House at 12 E. Franklin St. is the headquarters of The Garden Club of Virginia, which rents it for business meetings or special gatherings. For information, visit the The Garden Club of Virginia website. A number of buildings in the district have been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
Bolling Haxall House
The Bolling Haxall House, an Italianate residence with eclectic influences of the early Victorian period, is considered to be among the finest surviving mansions of its age in Richmond. Bolling W. Haxall, owner of Richmond’s famous Haxall Flour Mills, some of the largest in the world at that time, commissioned the building, which dates from 1858. Not surprisingly, Haxall was one of the city’s wealthiest and most prominent businessmen before the Civil War. While the architect is unknown, credit for the design of the unusual building goes to Richmond builders George and John Gibson.
The elongated cupola, semicircular pediment over the central third story window, and heavy bracketed cornice are all characteristic features for this transitional period in architecture in the mid-1800s. Finely detailed cast iron window arches, balcony railings, and an exquisite locally made cast iron property fence–attributed by some sources to Richmonder George Lownes, others to William Cook–round out this impressive mansion. The two cast iron, horse-head hitching posts in the front of the house once stood on Capitol Street, where state legislators used them for their horses. The sidewalk in front of the house was originally paved in hexagonal bricks, which some people considered to be of ill omen. Nurses would lead their charges into the gutter rather than walk across the evil bricks.
Dr. Francis Willis bought the home in 1869. Dr. Willis added a beautiful walnut staircase and frescoed the walls of the main floor. His eye for beauty led to tragedy, however, when his daughter Emily, a sleepwalker, died in a fall down the curving staircase. In his despair, Dr. Willis sold the house to the Woman’s Club in 1900. To pay off the mortgage the ladies of the club rented the second and third floors of the house as apartments.
Established in 1894, the club was originally at 11 West Franklin Street, in the former home of Allan Talbotts. Still effective today, the Woman’s Club is dedicated to the education of women and supports civic efforts in downtown Richmond. In 1915, growth of the Woman’s Club called for the addition of an auditorium in the rear of the building and a ballroom on the second floor. The addition of the auditorium Richmond architects Carneal and Johnston designed entailed the removal of the rear porch, which had a magnificent view of the James River. Credited with preserving the building, the Woman’s Club supervised restoration of the cupola and the octagonal library to its original décor in the mid 1960's. In 1984, the Richmond architecture firm Wright, Cox and Smith renovated the house, and in 1999, C. Dudley Brown directed partial restoration of the interior.
The Bolling Haxall House is located at 211 E. Franklin St. The building is open to the public. Call 804-643-2847 for more information. The Bolling Haxall House (Women's Club) has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Broad Street Commercial Historic District
Broad Street, Richmond’s historic commercial artery, cuts through the city’s downtown. The Broad Street Commercial Historic District includes a fine collection of historic buildings in an impressive variety of architectural styles from Art Deco to Romanesque Revival. The majority date from between 1880 and 1930. The area became the commercial center of the city by the mid-19th century and later the focus of the streetcar system. Only three antebellum buildings remain to illustrate the scale and character of Broad Street in the first half of the 19th century. The 1858 wood frame William Duggan House sits at 320 West Broad Street, a two-story brick house at 419, and a badly altered building at 222. The Beers Atlas of 1876 indicates that two-story wooden residential and commercial buildings were common on the street at that time.
Broad Street is 115 feet wide between its building faces to accommodate the trolley lines that once ran down the center of the divided boulevard. The width of the street, which is more than twice that of an average city street in Richmond, is one of the district’s most defining characteristics. The trolley system and the introduction of the electric streetcar in 1889 transformed the street into the focus of the city’s mass transit system and encouraged the development of shops and department stores along its length. By 1900, the area was Richmond’s most important shopping district and the most desirable location for retail trade. From the 1880s until the 1930s, the buildings erected on the street were typically large and impressive commercial buildings-- architect-designed and elaborately-treated. Most are brick, often embellished with granite and limestone trim.
Prominent buildings include the Masonic Temple (1888) at 101 West Broad Street, the Empire Theater (1910) at 118 West Broad Street, and the Richmond Dairy at 312-314 Jefferson Street. The Empire Theater, Richmond’s oldest surviving playhouse, was one of the first historic buildings to be rehabilitated in the district. While almost nothing remains of its original Beaux Arts exterior ornament, much of the interior is intact. The Richmond branch of the Woodward and Lothrop Department Store chain, known as “Woodies,” opened for business in 1893 and was for a time housed in the first floor and basement of the Masonic Temple. Jackson Gott designed the Romanesque Revival temple, which contains meeting rooms and a ballroom still used for social functions. The building has hosted many dignitaries, including Theodore Roosevelt. When Woodward and Lothrop moved from this location, the local branch of the Masons nearly went bankrupt. The temple now houses apartments, a conference center, and businesses on the ground floor. Many former commercial buildings in the district, including the Richmond Dairy, have been rehabilitated for residential, retail, or restaurant use bringing vitality and street life back to this once-thriving area of downtown Richmond.
The largest buildings on the street, other than the Masonic Temple and the Central National Bank, were department stores. The J.B. Mosby Dry Goods Store at 201-205 West Broad Street became the city’s first fireproof department store in 1916. Designed by New York architects Starrett and Van Vleck, who also designed Richmond’s Lord and Taylor department store, this 6-story building now houses more than 50 loft apartments.
The 1929 Central National Bank building at 219 East Broad Street is Richmond’s only Art Deco skyscraper. Architect John Eberson designed this 22 story, 282 feet tall high-rise office building, which at the time of its construction was the tallest building in the city. The playful neon sign that once crowned it changed colors according to the weather forecast for the next day. Elsewhere, business signs remain a distinguishing characteristic of the Broad Street commercial area, with vintage signs such as one for Coca-Cola still adorning the façades of historic buildings. A new owner has purchased the Central National Bank building and the prominent Interbake Foods Company building, further west on the north side of Broad Street. The owner's plan is to convert them to some combination of offices and condominiums.
Broad Street Commercial Historic District is located in the area of Broad Street from Belvidere to 4th St. Some of the buildings in the district are open to the public. 504-510 West Broad Street has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
Cententary United Methodist Church
Centenary United Methodist Church is one of downtown Richmond’s familiar landmarks, and among the best examples of Gothic Revival style architecture in the city. The church has a diverse history that begins with its “mother church” in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom in 1799. Centenary is an offshoot of this first church. Methodists from around the state raised money to construct a new church in honor of the Methodist Centennial in 1839. The congregation dedicated the new Centenary United Methodist Church in June 1843. Money earned from the rental of pews helped pay for the building’s construction.
Centenary United contributed to the changing of the street name of its new location from G to Grace Street in honor of the number of churches located on the street. The first floor of the church, now occupied by the Fellowship Hall, served as an emergency hospital during the Civil War-a temporary use shared by many civic and religious buildings around the city.
Architects John and Samuel Freeman designed Centenary as a simple rectangular brick building. The church received a major renovation and addition in the 1870’s. Prominent Richmond architect Albert L. West did the design work for the remodeling creating a new façade and adding a distinctive tower in the Gothic Revival style. The Ladies Aid Society and the Circle of Industry purchased the church’s first pipe organ in 1877. The church added carved wood pews in 1882 and acquired a marble baptismal font from Tiffany and Son all the way from London in the 1890s. A brick addition to provide space for the organ and choir extended the nave in 1896. The choir is located over the church’s front door on Grace Street. The congregation added a dozen chime bells to the church’s tower in 1882, with the largest weighing 4,000 pounds. The bells rang for the first time on Easter Sunday, 1882, and they are still played daily. Another noted architect, Charles M. Robinson, designed the new parish house addition to the west of the chapel in 1929.
Throughout the 20th century, Centenary United remained a center of faith in downtown Richmond while all the other Methodist congregations relocated to the suburbs. Today, it is still a place of worship.
Centenary United Methodist Church is located at 411 East Grace St. The church continues to be an active place of worship and is open to the public. For information, call 804-648-8319 or visit the Centenary United Methodist Church website.
Commonwealth Club Historic District
Commonwealth Club Historic District is the site of one of the best-preserved groups of turn of the century upper-class town houses in Richmond’s downtown and the distinguished Commonwealth Club. The small district is one in a string of National Register listed districts and individual properties between Capitol Square and Monument Avenue. The centerpiece of the district is the Commonwealth Club Building at 401 West Franklin Street. The noted New York firm of Carrere and Hastings designed this private men’s club prior to working on Richmond’s Jefferson Hotel. The building dates from 1891 and has the scale and form of an urban mansion. Its terra cotta, brownstone, and pressed brick façade is one of the first examples of the Colonial Revival style in Richmond.
The balance of the district consists of single-family homes of comparable architectural quality to the Commonwealth Club, however, instead of urban mansions these are town houses on narrow urban lots. The buildings are in the Italianate, Romanesque, and Neoclassical styles popular in the last quarter of the 19th century. They possess beautifully designed façades ornamented with brownstone, pressed brick, and terra cotta. The buildings have small front yards, some demarcated by historic cast iron fences.
The Commonwealth Club Historic District represents some of Richmond’s finest residential architecture from the city’s gilded age. Prominent citizens such as Adolph Osterloh, the Austro-Hungarian Consul in Richmond, lived in the houses. The Commonwealth Club remains one of Richmond’s most venerable private institutions. Most of the other buildings in the district are preserved and adaptively reused as apartments or offices.
Commonwealth Club Historic District includes 319-415 and 400-500 W. Franklin St. The district is accessible from the Downtown Expressway, Interstate 64, and Interstate 95 by the Belvidere exits of those highways. The now demolished house at 400 West Franklin St. within the boundaries of the district has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
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.
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.
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.
Designed by noted Greek Revival architect Thomas S. Stewart of Philadelphia, the Egyptian Building is one of the finest examples of the rare “Egyptian Revival” style. The building was the first permanent home of the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College, which later became the Medical College of Virginia. The Egyptian Building has been in continuous use since its construction in 1845 and remains the oldest medical college building in the South. While the interior has since been extensively altered to accommodate administrative office space (with the notable exception of the 1930s lobby and ground floor lecture hall), the monumental exterior is extremely well preserved. The building once housed lecture rooms, a dissecting room, an infirmary, and hospital beds for medical and surgical cases.
The exotic exterior of the building presents a stately, fortress-like mass, and its battered walls, which taper from the bottom to the top, reinforce the impression of solidity and weight. The temple-form building has nearly identical facades at both ends, with corner pylons framing the porticoes with their pairs of colossal palm capital columns. Sloping pylons also encase the window bays on the long sides of the building. Other notable architectural features include the diamond-paned windows, columns of bunched reeds with palm leaf capitals, and a cast iron fence forged by R. W. Barnes of Richmond. The exterior ornament depicts the disc of the sun goddess, with the disc representing eternity, the serpent representing wisdom, and the wings representing spirit.
In 1939, Richmond architects Baskervill & Son oversaw extensive restoration of the exterior of the building. Bernard Baruch, a wealthy industrialist, financed the restoration in memory of his father Dr. Simon Baruch, an 1862 graduate of the Medical College of Virginia and a Confederate surgeon in the Civil War. The 270-seat Baruch Auditorium on the first floor dates to this renovation and is still in use. The restoration included remodeling the interior of the building to follow the Egyptian style. None of the original interiors survived.
Extensive use of the lotus flower motif accompanies rich interior colors rife with mystical symbolism. Red represents divine love, blue represents divine intelligence; and the golden yellow represents the mercy of God. Hieroglyphics decorate the lobby, and the floor tiles depict a large scarab beetle.
The Egyptian Building, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the SW corner of E. Marshall and College Sts. at 1223 E. Marshall Street in downtown Richmond, on the north side of the Broad Street corridor. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The building currently houses administrative offices for the Medical College of Virginia and is open Monday-Friday, 7:30am to 5:30pm. Take a close look at the fence posts, which are stylized mummies with bare feet protruding from the bases.
Ellen Glasgow House
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.
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.
First African Baptist Church
Built in 1876, First African Baptist Church housed one of the oldest African American congregations in Virginia, and all African American Baptist churches in Richmond trace back to this church. The current building replaced the original First Baptist Church dating from between 1799 and 1802, where a congregation of whites, slaves, and free blacks worshipped together for years. In 1841, First Baptist’s white members moved to a new church two blocks to the west at 12th and Broad Streets, and the black members of the congregation stayed at the old location. Torn down in 1876, the old church made way for the dedication of the “new” church in 1877, now known as Old First African Baptist Church.
In 1867, Reverend James H. Holmes became the first black pastor of the original First Baptist Church. He is said to have married 1,400 couples, attended 2,500 funerals, and baptized 5,800 persons during his 34 year tenure there. The church hosted sermons preached by Reverends Richard Wells, William Troy, and John Jasper. In 1878, 1,100 persons were baptized and welcomed as members of the new church. Reverend Holmes pastored the church 34 years before passing away in November of 1900. The church ranks high in importance in Richmond's African American history.
The 1841 First Baptist Church was the inspiration for First African Baptist Church’s Greek Doric temple design. Architect Thomas U. Walter designed both buildings. Walter was a reported rival of Robert Mills, who designed Monumental Church one block to the west.
The congregation moved to a new location in north Richmond and sold the First African Baptist Church to the Medical College of Virginia in 1955. The congregation is still in existence. The church, which was originally stuccoed and topped by a cupola, had its steeple and stained glass windows removed when the congregation relocated. The college continues to use the church building for offices, classrooms, and laboratories for its Clinical Laboratory Department and now refers to the building as the Randolph-Minor Annex.
First African Baptist Church is located on the northeast
corner of College and E. Broad Sts., at 301 College St. The
building is open to the public during normal business hours.
First Battalion Virginia Voluteers Armory
Built in the 1890s to house an African American military battalion, this castle-like building’s official name was the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory. The armory served as headquarters for the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Infantry, Richmond’s first African American regiment, which served in the Spanish American War. It was one of six original armories in the city, of which only two survive, and is the oldest African American armory in Virginia and quite possibly the United States. Richmond City Engineer Wilfred Emory Cutshaw, a prolific public servant, designed the armory. He was also responsible for the design the Byrd Park Pump House and for the present-day layout of Monroe Park, the City’s oldest municipal park.
The armory became somewhat of a social center in the surrounding Jackson Ward neighborhood, the site of dances and banquets as well as drills and assemblies. In 1899 less than 10 years after its completion, the Richmond City Council converted the armory to civilian use as Monroe Elementary School, which operated there for 40 years. The building became a reception center during World War II, providing temporary housing and a recreation hall for African American troops from 1942 until the end of the war. Almost 56,000 soldiers passed through the building during this period. After the war, the building received a new name, the Monroe Center, and became an annex of Armstrong High School, Graves Junior High School, and eventually the Colored Special School until the 1950s. In the mid-1980s, the Richmond School Board leased the armory building to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center.
Distinguishing features of the imposing brick building include five distinct types of masonry units, terra cotta crenellation and grapevine friezes, and corner towers with fine radially-molded brick. The armory contributes to the significance of the Jackson Ward Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. This neighborhood was the heart of Richmond’s African American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and its architecture includes the largest collection of cast iron ornament in the country outside of New Orleans. Many of Richmond's famed historic African American homes and icons are located in the district.
While this important center of black heritage is now seeing major revitalization efforts and an influx of new businesses and residents into once vacant buildings, the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the district on its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places as recently as 2001. As a result, historic Jackson Ward, including the First Battalion Armory, has benefited from federal rehabilitation grants funds through the Save America’s Treasures program. Stabilization of the armory building began in 2002 with a complete restoration of the building’s impressive brick exterior, including the crenellation on the parapets and towers in 2005-2006. Various ideas are being considered for use of the building.
First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory is located at 122 W. Leigh St. within the boundaries of the Jackson Ward Historic District. The building is not open to the public. For information, call the City of Richmond Dept. of Real Estate Services at 804-646-4350.
First National Bank Building
The First National Bank Building dating from 1913 is the first skyscraper in Richmond, and a wonderful example of turn-of-the-century Neoclassical Revival architecture. Nineteen stories tall, the building crowned the city’s skyline until its height was surpassed in 1930. Constructed using early steel-frame technology, the bank combines a monumental scale with fine detailing.
Following the Civil War, the Federal Government revoked the charters of all banks whose loyalty to the Union might be suspect. Richmond was without a bank until several citizens met with northern banker Hamilton G. Fant and associates, who agreed to establish a bank under Federal charter. Financial leaders, who wanted to pull Richmond through the impending and difficult years of Reconstruction, founded the First National Bank in April 1865, a mere eight days after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Robert E. Lee was one of the bank’s first customers. The First National Bank, which originally met in the old Customs House, soon merged with National Exchange Bank and moved from a one-room office to a commercial building at 10th and Main Streets. Surviving the financial crises of the 1890s, First National Bank entered the 20th century with the highest total assets of any bank in the city.
In 1910, First National Bank hired the New York firm of Clinton and Russell to fashion a new building at the corner of 9th and Main Streets, utilizing the latest in design and technology. The architect, Alfred Charles Bossom, clad the revolutionary steel-frame building in limestone, granite, and brick in a design that incorporates 50 foot tall fluted Corinthian pilasters and columns and heavily-molded terra cotta ornamentation in a learned application of Neoclassical design and proportion. On June 10, 1913, the First National Bank moved its offices into Richmond’s first skyscraper. In 1919, Bossom designed the Mutual Building and the Virginia Trust Building, both adjacent to the First National Bank Building. All three buildings headquartered financial or business institutions, creating a symbol of financial prosperity in the heart of the city.
Neoclassical design appealed to modern capitalists as a style that embodied a purity of form and implied a cultural past, representative of order and legitimacy in the emerging American society. Symmetry and controlled ornamentation gave the building clarity, formality, and elegance. Around the base of the building, the areas between the columns and pilasters are filled with windows, making this building a clear predecessor to the curtain wall buildings that would dominate commercial high-rise architecture after c. 1950. The interior of the building, though altered somewhat, still retains many of the original details such as marble-clad columns, groin vaults, and bronze elevator doors. The larger original cornice was removed in the 1970s in the effort to “modernize” its appearance. The building was a candidate for conversion into condominiums between c. 1980 and c.1990, but the owners opted for renovation work that would create higher-grade office space. The impressive building remains a landmark in downtown Richmond, and its rich ornament captivates passersby as much today as when it was built. BB&T Bank and several other tenants are now its occupants.
First National Bank Building is located at 825-27 East Main St. in the heart of the Main Street Banking Historic District of downtown Richmond. The lobby is open to the public Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm. Other parts of the building are occupied by private businesses.
Grace Street Commercial Historic District
Grace Street Commercial Historic District is significant for both its architecture and commerce. From 1820 to 1920, Grace and Franklin Streets were the heart of one of Richmond’s most fashionable neighborhoods and home to some of its wealthiest and most influential citizens. The streets were lined with large homes and row houses set in narrow lots often enclosed by fences constructed of wood or ornamental iron.
Later, commercial development replaced many of the residences. Churches began to appear on Grace and Franklin Streets in the 1840s. People widely believe that Grace Street had its name changed because of the number of churches present by 1844. Prior to that time, it was known simply as “G” Street, following the early lettering system of city streets. Two churches, St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Centenary United Methodist Church, were on the street, and two others were under construction: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Grace Street Baptist Church. Centenary United Methodist at 411 East Grace Street is one of downtown Richmond’s familiar landmarks and among the best examples of the Gothic Revival style in the city. By the end of the 19th century, three more churches on Grace Street added to the architectural character of the street.
Over the 50-year period following the Civil War, Grace and Franklin Streets became more urbanized with the demolition of many antebellum residences and subdivision of their generous lots. The district saw the construction of houses in the latest architectural styles-Italianate, Second Empire, and Richardsonian Romanesque. In the second two decades of the 20th century, Grace Street became a fashionable shopping and business district. Prior to 1911, a few residential buildings were converted to commercial uses, but that year saw construction of the first new commercial building, the Thalheimer’s Office Building. More new commercial development followed beginning in the Roaring Twenties. Dubbed “Richmond’s Fifth Avenue”, Grace Street became the site of more than 70 new retail shops and office buildings between 1920 and 1930, many in an Art Deco-influenced style. The stock market crash of 1929 ended this unprecedented building boom, however. Over the next ten years only a handful of buildings were erected, as the Great Depression marked an end to the exuberant, fanciful storefronts built along Grace Street in the preceding decade.
Notable buildings in the district include the Administration and Equipment Building for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company at 701 East Grace Street. The well-known New York firm of Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker designed this 11-story Art Deco skyscraper that dates from 1929. One block to the west at 600 East Grace Street stands the 1927 Loew’s Theater, the design of John Eberson, a leading New York architect of the 1920s noted for his extravagant theater designs. The theater, sometimes called the Carpenter Center for its most recent incarnation, is an elaborate interpretation of the Spanish Mission style, with a dark red brick exterior heavily ornamented with sculpted terra cotta and limestone. The now demolished Thalheimer’s Department Store once occupied the remainder of the block. Across the street to the west stands Miller & Rhodes Department Store (508-512 East Grace Street), with the original portion of the store fronting Broad Street. Starrett & Van Vleck, well known for their designs of posh New York department stores like Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, are responsible for the 1922 Grace Street addition. The building is now a hotel and condominiums. Across Grace Street from Miller & Rhodes is the 1928 Berry-Burke Building (525-529 East Grace Street), another large commercial building. The Richmond firm of Baskervill & Lambert designed the limestone building in the form of an Italian palazzo with polychromatic detailing. Recently renovated and converted to apartments on the upper stories, the building still has its original illuminated sign on the roof.
Further west of Miller & Rhodes and the Berry-Burke Building, both sides of Grace Street are lined with smaller commercial buildings and a scattering of older residential buildings, including a row of five Queen Anne-style buildings on the 200 block of East Grace Street. Built between 1881 and 1892, they have storefront additions dating from the mid-1920s, but the second and third floors retain much of their original character. They are the Wallerstein House (211 East Grace Street); George D. Wise House (213 East Grace Street); Samuel Cohen House (215 East Grace Street); T.E. Gill House (217 East Grace Street); and the S.D. Crenshaw House (219 East Grace Street). Capt. Marion Johnson Dimmock, one of Richmond’s most prolific architects of the post-Civil War period, designed the 1881 George D. Wise House. East Grace Street is currently undergoing a dramatic renaissance, including the rehabilitation of the Loew’s Theater for use as a Performing Arts Center and the adaptive reuse of the Miller and Rhodes building for a hotel and condominiums.
Grace Street Commercial Historic District is roughly bounded by Adams, Broad, 8th, and Franklin Sts. Many of the buildings with varied commercial, retail, restaurant, and religious uses are open to the public.
One of Richmond’s best-preserved early 19th-century mansions, the Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House, with its unusual architectural plan, has seen a diverse succession of owners, including an attorney general and two mayors. Michael Hancock, about whom history books mention only his penchant for gambling, built the house in 1808-1809. A few years later, Hancock sold the property to William Wirt to pay for gambling debts. Wirt is famous as the author of one of the first great biographies in American literature, Life of Patrick Henry. He also was Attorney General of Virginia and later served as U.S. Attorney General under James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Benjamin Tate, former Mayor of Richmond, bought the house and eventually passed the house onto his son. The younger Tate also served as Mayor of Richmond between 1826 and 1839. After this, the house passed into the hands of the Palmer and Caskie families, who would own it from 1854 until c. 1945. This lengthy period of continuous occupancy and little change in ownership help account for its remarkable state of preservation.
Recognized as one of Richmond’s finest examples of the Federal style, the house is the last remaining building of its kind. During the early 19th century, it was one of several houses in Richmond with a three-sectioned bay motif with a two-story porch in between. Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who designed a house with semi-octagonal bays, likely influenced the design of these houses. Flemish bond brickwork, marble lintels and keystones, finely detailed interior woodwork, and an octagonal living room all combine to make this a sophisticated example of early 19th-century residential architecture in Richmond. Owned by the American Red Cross from c. 1960 to c. 1970, the building now houses attorneys’ offices.
The Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House is located at 2 N. 5th St. The building generally is not open to the public. The Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Hebrew Cemetery is a tangible reminder of Richmond's Jewish community, which was important in the city's history from the late 18th century. The cemetery, which the first Jewish congregation in Virginia established, is the oldest active Jewish cemetery in continuous use in the South and saw its first burial in 1818. In the early 19th century, the small Franklin Street Jewish Burial Ground no longer had space for additional burials. In 1816 to meet the need for burial space, Richmond's Sephardic Jewish congregation, Beth Shalome, obtained a grant of one acre from the City of Richmond for a new and larger consecrated burial ground.
The new cemetery site was on the northern end of Shockoe Hill at the outskirts of Richmond overlooked Bacon's Quarter Branch Valley. A committee raised $1,322 to lay off the ground, build a matahar (burial preparation) house, and enclose the burial ground with a wall. The original matahar no longer exists. Designed by Richmond architect, M.J. Dimmock, and completed in 1898, the cemetery still has its handsome and well-preserved Mortuary Chapel. The original one-acre burial ground of 1816 was the nucleus of Hebrew Cemetery. Expansions in 1871, 1880, 1896, and 1911 increased the area of the cemetery to five acres. The oldest part of the cemetery is laid out in a regular grid with family plots.
Hebrew Cemetery contains a wealth of monuments that illuminate the Jewish history of Richmond and Jewish burial practice. The grave markers are simple overall, reflecting the Judaic tradition of equality in death. Chest and table tombs, cradle graves, and rustic tree monuments are interspersed among the tall obelisks, broken columns, and draped urns. Jewish symbols such as the Star of David, ram horns, and the hands positioned for the priestly blessing of the Kohanim in the cemetery illustrate historic burial practices. Some of the markers in the cemetery contain Hebrew inscriptions and dates that reflect the Jewish calendar. Many of the monuments specify the birthplaces of those buried, who were from numerous American cities as well as Bavaria, Holland, Russia, Prussia, Poland, England, and various German states.
The cemetery historically had ornamental trees and shrubs. Surviving historic plantings include elm, cedar, magnolia, arborvitae, and a Japanese maple that are noteworthy and mature. A wrought iron entrance gate and cast iron gates and fences enclosing family burial plots are examples of significant metalwork.
The Confederate soldiers' burial section contains the graves of 30 Jewish Confederate soldiers who died in or near Richmond. The Hebrew Ladies' Memorial Association formed in 1866 to care for this section. The association around 1873 commissioned Richmond artist, Major William Barksdale Myers, to erect an ornamental iron fence around the enclosure. The completed fence is arguably the most outstanding cast iron fence in Richmond, an elaborate construction of iron muskets, swords, and furled flags.
Hebrew Cemetery is one of the most well preserved cemeteries in Richmond. The cemetery is still an active place of burials with an expanded modern section across Hospital Street.
Hebrew Cemetery is located at 400 Hospital St. at the intersection of N. 4th
St. just north of Downtown Richmond adjacent to Shockoe Cemetery.
The cemetery is open to the public Monday-Friday from 9:00am to 3:00pm and by arrangement with the Temple office. A security guard is also present on the first and third Sundays of each month from noon until 3:00pm. Call the Congregation Beth Ahabah office at 804-358-6757 for information about historical tours of the cemetery, and visit the Hebrew Cemetery website for additional information.
Henry Coalter Cabell House
The Henry Coalter Cabell House, like many of Richmond’s distinguished historic residences, takes the name of its most famous resident rather than the original builder or owner. Colonel Henry Cabell (1820-1889) leased the house, which William O. George built in 1847, for three decades beginning in the 1850s. Cabell, a Civil War veteran and a leading member of the Richmond Bar, was the son of Virginia Governor William H. Cabell.
Though originally an ell-shaped Greek Revival house, the Henry Coalter Cabell House has subsequent additions that reflect a mixture of Greek Revival and later 19th century revival styles. The home has a large central section with a two-story portico flanked by smaller wings. Four columns in an invented Greek-style order by Minard Lafever support the portico. They have lost their acanthus leaves, which makes them look Egyptian. Just below the second floor windows of this central portion is a balcony with an elaborate floral-patterned iron railing, thought to have been added c. 1880. The double entrance door on the main façade contains early etched glass panels and iron gates. When a wing was added in 1948, the inside of the house was gutted and replaced with new partitions and furnishings. Nothing remains of the original interior of the house. According to the late Mary Wingfield Scott, one of the city’s staunchest early preservationists, the original interior trim lacked the refinement typically found in houses built in Richmond in this period.
The Henry Coalter Cabell House is important among Richmond’s architectural landmarks with its distinctive portico. The house is also the sole survivor of several blocks of distinguished houses that made Gamble’s Hill one of Richmond’s most fashionable neighborhoods in the late 19th century. The saving of the Cabell house through its adaptation to business use set an important example for preservation in Richmond. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and designated as a City of Richmond Old and Historic property in 1975.
The Henry Coalter Cabell House is located just east of the Monroe Ward area of downtown Richmond at 116 S. 3rd St. The building currently holds private offices and is not generally open to the public. The Henry Coalter Cabell House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Jackson Ward Historic District
Jackson Ward Historic District is a fine 19th-century residential district. The entire Jackson Ward Historic District is only one of two districts that are National Historic Landmarks in the City of Richmond. This formal recognition of its national significance stems from the importance of Jackson Ward in African American history. African Americans settled in Jackson Ward in the early 19th century and by the early 20th century had become the majority of the neighborhood’s residents. Jackson Ward became the largest African American community in Richmond and a nationally important center of African American economic and cultural activity. Jackson Ward was one of the most important black business communities at its height and the location of banks, clubs, insurance companies, and commercial and social institutions. The neighborhood was home to such distinguished African Americans as the founder of the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank, Maggie Lena Walker, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the famous actor and dancer.
In 1769 William Byrd III, owner of much of what is now Richmond, subdivided the area encompassing present-day Jackson Ward into 100-acre “out lots” to award as prizes in a lottery of his real estate holdings. The property that sold at lottery stood outside of the corporate and developed areas of Richmond proper. Richmond grew toward this area in the early 19th century, and this growth encouraged the families who owned much of the property (the Jacksons, Foushees, Duvals, and Coutts) to subdivide and sell their land. A diverse group of “Free Persons of Color,” European immigrants, American-born white artisans, and Richmond businessmen bought lots and built homes in these outlying subdivisions. The two oldest buildings in Jackson Ward are good examples of this early residential development. The Tucker cottage at 701 Chamberlayne Parkway (which stood originally on the 300 block of 3rd Street) dates from 1802, with the front of the building dating from 1845. This gambrel-roofed cottage is the last of its kind in Richmond. Constructed in 1813, 133 West Jackson Street is an excellent example of a two-room-over–two-room center-hall house.
The sparsely built suburban character of the neighborhood began to change in the mid-19th century as row houses and town houses filled the area. The architecture of this period is on display along Marshall Street (one-way going east from Belvidere Street) and Clay Street. (one-way going west from 2nd Street). Brick buildings interspersed with a number of frame buildings characterize Jackson Ward architecture of the mid-19th century. A number of Greek Revival town houses and row houses date to the 1840s and 1850s. These buildings have porches with round or square columns (typically one bay in width), English basements, gable roofs, and stepped parapets.
After the Civil War the Italianate and Second Empire styles came into and remained in vogue until the end of the 19th century. Both styles feature heavily bracketed cornices. The styles can be differentiated because Italianate houses have sloped roofs or slightly pitched gable roofs and the Second Empire style is characterized by “false” (front façade only) mansard roofs with or without dormers. The porches of Italianate and Second Empire style houses are of particular interest. Throughout the district are many wooden porches with various combinations of turned posts, turned or sawn balusters, and sawn brackets.
Jackson Ward has a large collection of historic cast iron porches that constitute some of Richmond’s great architectural treasures. Richmond cast iron porches feature decorative railings, slender columns, and bands ornamented with trellis, floral, and vine patterns. These highly ornamented elements create porches with the quality of a garden pavilion. They are for the most part the products of Richmond foundries that provided the same patterns to a number of different builders and property owners. Clay Street and the 100 block of East Leigh Street have the largest concentration of cast iron porches in Richmond.
African Americans worked over time to design and construct many of the buildings in Jackson Ward. The Adams family of builders constructed the house at 304 West Leigh Street in the 1850s. They also donated the land and built Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1858 at 214 West Leigh Street. About half a dozen African American builders worked in Jackson Ward at any give time during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of these, George Boyd, built the Maggie Walker House in 1888, now a National Park Service administered National Historic Site, as well as the original portion of the 1884 Sixth Mount Zion Church. In the 20th century, black architects John Lankford of Washington, D.C. and Richmonders Charles Russell and Harvey Johnson began to design buildings in the neighborhood. The only surviving building by Lankford is the Taylor Mansion of 1909 at 526 North 2nd Street, reputed to be the largest home commissioned by an African American in the United States up to that time. A number of buildings by Russell survive, including the Richmond Beneficial Insurance Company Building of 1912 at 700 North 2nd Street, the Hughes House of 1915 at 510 St. James Street, and the Masonic Lodge of 1911 at 10 East Leigh Street. Johnson, a protégé of Russell, designed the house at 102 West Jackson Street in 1919.
African American churches were central to the life of Jackson Ward. The oldest church in the district is the twin-towered Italianate style Third Street Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church dating from 1857 at 614 North 3rd Street. The second oldest building is Ebenezer Baptist Church, constructed in 1858 at 214 West Leigh Street. Population growth and the separation of African Americans from white congregations caused a dramatic increase in the number of black congregations in Jackson Ward after the Civil War. These congregations built or acquired a number of churches in the neighborhood for their use. Three congregations still occupy their buildings from the late 19th century: Sharon Baptist Church of 1884 at 18 East Leigh Street, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church constructed in 1884 and expanded in 1925 at 14 West Duval Street, and Hood Temple AME Zion Church at 20 West Clay Street. Sixth Mount Zion, which is renowned as the church of the Reverend John Jasper, has a museum, the Jasper Room, dating from 1925.
A number of important public buildings in the district have associations with the African American community. The Second Empire-style Booker T. Washington School at 21 East Leigh Street, dating from 1871, is the oldest public school building in Richmond and became an African American high school in the 1890s. Steamer Company Number Five is an outstanding Italianate-style fire and police station constructed in 1884 to the designs of Richmond City Engineer Wilfred Emory Cutshaw. It is situated on an unusual triangular site at 200 West Marshall Street, the intersection of Brook Road and Marshall Street. The First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory at 122 West Leigh Street dates from 1895 andis the oldest armory building in Virginia and possibly the only armory in the country built for African American troops. This castellated Gothic building by Cutshaw is a major landmark on Leigh Street. Charles Robinson designed the second home of Armstrong High School at 119 West Leigh Street in 1922, Richmond’s only high school built for African Americans prior to 1938.
Buildings associated with African American culture in the neighborhood include the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia at 00 Clay Street, an early mansion converted to the first library for African Americans in Richmond the 1920s. The Moderne-style Hippodrome Theatre of 1945 at 528 North 2nd Street is the last surviving of a number of theaters on 2nd Street. The building recalls the time when Jackson Ward, particularly 2nd Street, was a nationally known black entertainment district.
Jackson Ward was also a nationally known center of African American banking and insurance. The first African American bank chartered in the United States, the True Reformer’s Bank, opened in 1886 in the W. W. Browne House at 105½ West Jackson Street. The Second Street Bank at 702 North 2nd Street and the Mechanics Savings Bank at 3rd and East Clay Streets are surviving examples of purpose-built headquarters for African American banks in the neighborhood. Fraternal insurance companies thrived in Jackson Ward, the most noteworthy surviving example of which is the St. Luke Building, just across interstate 95 from the Jackson Ward Historic District. The building housed the banking, printing, insurance, and meeting needs of the Order of St. Luke which was headquartered in Richmond. A number of other African American operated commercial enterprises thrived throughout Jackson Ward, and surviving examples can be seen on 1st and 2nd streets, as well as many street corners. One of the largest commercial operations during the period was the A. D. Price Funeral home from 1902 that still survives at 208 East Leigh Street. The Miller/Eggleston Hotel dating from about 1900 is at 541 North 2nd Street and is the last remaining hotel for African Americans in the neighborhood.
The prominent African Americans who built Jackson Ward in the post-Civil War period left a legacy of distinguished residences. The W. L. Taylor house at 522 North 2nd Street was reputed to be the largest home of an African American in the City of Richmond at the time of its construction in 1907. The restored Maggie L. Walker House, built in 1889 and expanded in several phases, now looks as it did when Maggie Lena Walker lived there. The house is in the 100 block of East Leigh Street, known as “Quality Row” because of the many distinguished African Americans who resided there. Another important residence of this type is the Hughes House at 510 St. James Street.
Jackson Ward is highly significant as the center of Richmond’s African American community. The neighborhood is of great historical and architectural interest and is the last surviving residential area in downtown Richmond.
Jackson Ward Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, is roughly bounded by 4th, Marshall and Smith Sts. and the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. For information on what to see and do in the district, visit the Historic Jackson Ward Association website. The exteriors of buildings in the district can be viewed by automobile or on foot. While most residences are not open, some religious, museum, commercial buildings, and public buildings are open to the public. The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia has a $5 admission charge and is open by appointment Tuesday-Saturday. For information, call 804-780-9093 or visit the museum's website. The Maggie Walker House is open to the public Monday-Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm. For additional information, visit the National Park Service’s Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site website. Jackson Ward Historic District has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
James River and Kanawha Canal Historic District
The James River and Kanawha Canal Historic District illustrates the relationship between Richmond’s early inhabitants and the James River. Following settlement by English colonists, the construction of millraces parallel to the banks of the river provided water to power mills and later electric plants. In 1784, George Washington voiced his support to the Virginia General Assembly for a grand scale waterway. His vision was to link the James River with the Kanawha River in western Virginia, which would then open up access to the resources of the American West via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Incorporation of the state-sanctioned James River Company in 1785, with George Washington as its honorary president, led to the development of the James River and Kanawha Canal.
The digging of the beginnings of a towpath made it possible for cargo-bearing barges to navigate up the canal and beyond the rapids of the James River where it flows past downtown Richmond. Construction of the Great Basin by the turn of the 18th century and completion of the Tidewater Connection in 1822 allowed larger boats to enter the city below the falls. Mills and warehouses surrounding the Great Basin allowed direct loading and unloading of goods that were departing or arriving by water. Water from the canal channeled into millraces powered a number of gristmills, allowing Richmond to become one of the major world flour producers and exporters. By 1840, construction of the canal was complete from Richmond to Lynchburg. A series of wooden locks, most dating from the 1840s, permitted access to the upper James River, the focus of subsequent developments. By 1851, the canal system extended 197 miles westward, terminating at what would be its final destination, the town of Buchanan in Botetourt County. The building of the “great lock” next to the present-day intersection of Dock and Pear Streets between 1850 and 1854 connected the James River with the Richmond Dock completing the James River and Kanawha Canal system. The location is now a small city park called the Great Ship Lock Park.
The 1850s were the heyday of the James River and Kanawha Canal, the time canal traffic was at its busiest. Nearly 200 boats passed through on a regular basis, with barges bringing raw materials like tobacco and wheat from western Virginia and returning with other products from the city. Passenger boats, called packets, made up only a small percentage of traffic on the canal. They typically carried as many as 40 people and, with draft animals pulling the boats from the adjacent towpath, took approximately 33 hours to reach Lynchburg.
In 1880, the Richmond and Allegheny Railway Company bought the canal and laid tracks on the towpath. This, compounded by flooding and damage suffered during the Civil War, marked the canal system’s demise and its eclipse by the railroads. Although it would never reach the Kanawha River, the James River and Kanawha Canal was nonetheless a visionary and monumental engineering effort that bypassed seven miles of falls and continued 197 miles through Virginia’s western mountain ranges.
Heading west from the Great Shiplock, the district includes a variety of historic and re-constructed features including the following:
• The “Tidewater Connection” (so named because it permitted seafaring vessels to bypass the falls in order to access the mills and warehouses surrounding the Turning Basin) runs west along Dock Street to the new turning basin at 14th Street.
• In downtown Richmond visitors can experience a modified portion of the canal system, the Canal Walk, which winds 1¼ miles through downtown Richmond alongside reconstructed portions of the Haxall Canal and the James River & Kanawha Canal. The Canal Walk parallels the north bank of the James River from 17th Street on the east to 5th Street on the west, and features interpretive displays and wonderful vantage points of the James River as well as some of Richmond’s early 20th-century industrial buildings. Along this section of the canal visitors can view a major stone bridge near the foot of 13th Street, the tidewater connection locks. A massive stone construction is located adjacent to 11th and Byrd Street, and a large intact, but dry section of the canal can be viewed extending west of 6th Street next to the Tredegar Iron Works.
• A long intact section of the canal can be viewed from Hollywood Cemetery and Maymont.
• A large lock is adjacent to Byrd Park Pump House.
• A number of historic buildings line the canal, including the old Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) hydroelectric plant dating to 1899 and located at the base of 12th Street. Further west, at the base of Gamble’s Hill, lies the Tredegar Iron Works complex. Tredegar, which employed more than 2,000 people at its peak and produced 90 percent of the cannons for the Confederate Army, now houses an industrial museum and the Civil War Visitor Center.
The James River and Kanawha Canal Historic District extends approximately 10 miles from the Ship Lock at the south end of Peach St. in Richmond, westward to the intersection of an extension of Sleepy Hollow Rd. and the C & O Railroad tracks (outside the City in Henrico County). The linear district consists of earthen excavations that comprise the greater part of the canal system as well as the stone locks, bridges, culverts, walls, towpaths and other related objects. The buildings adjacent to the canal are not part of the district.
Visitors can experience a re-routed version of the original canal system on the Canal Walk, which winds 1 ¼ miles through downtown Richmond alongside reconstructed portions of the Haxall Canal and the James River & Kanawha Canal. The Canal Walk parallels the north bank of the James River from 17th St. on the east to 5th St. on the west, and features interpretive displays and wonderful vantage points of the James River as well as some of Richmond’s early 20th century industrial buildings. The public pathway is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information, search for the Canal Walk in the official tourism website for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The canal area is the site of many public festivities, concerts, and after-hours events. Brown’s Island, a popular spot for outdoor recreation and music events, is open from sunrise to sunset. The James River Park offers a variety of activities.
The James River and Kanawha Canal Pumphouse and the Tidewater Connection Locks have been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
The Jefferson Hotel
The Jefferson Hotel is one of the nation’s most outstanding examples of late 19th-century eclectic architecture. Major Lewis Ginter, the hotel’s patron, commanded the architects to provide Richmond with the finest hotel in America. In an era when sumptuous hotels were being erected throughout the country, the design and amenities of the Jefferson Hotel made Ginter’s dream into a reality.
Completed in 1895, the hotel is a massive but graceful building of buff-colored brick and stone. Its design is typical of the work of New York architects Carrere and Hastings in that it effectively blends a number of architectural forms and styles, although the exterior elements are primarily from the Italian and Spanish Renaissance. Four towers rise from the main block of the hotel, combining with the large entrances, loggia, varied window forms, and architectural ornament to make the Jefferson an important Richmond landmark.
Independent of its outstanding architectural merit the hotel, as originally completed, contained an abundance of technological advances such as service telephones, electrical lighting, central steam heating, and hot and cold running water for all 342 of its guest rooms. The building also has within it to this day an exceptional collection of late 19th century paintings as well as the famous life-size statue of Thomas Jefferson by Richmond sculptor Edward Valentine. The Jefferson Hotel continues to be known as “the” place to stay for important persons visiting Richmond. Notable guests include Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles A. Lindberg, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and Calvin Coolidge. The hotel has been the scene for many important Richmond social events.
Historically, the hotel had three principal entrances: the Main Street entrance leading into the Rotunda for commercial travelers; the Franklin Street entrance, known as the “Ladies Entrance” for those attending social functions; and the covered side entrance used by carriages. A fire in 1901 resulted in the rebuilding and redesign of the Main Street façade and replacement of the cast iron atrium with one of stone. The Carrere and Hastings designed rooms in the north end display a diverse range of styles and retain many of the original features. They are the fancifully named Louis XVI Grand Salon and the Pompeian Palm Court, and a number of small reception and waiting rooms in various French styles. The southern wings were reconstructed to run north south, rather than east west, to allow more light and air into the rooms. Overall, the exterior remains similar to the original design.
Today, the hotel has 262 guest rooms and 19 well-appointed meeting and banquet rooms. Visitors can relax in the spacious and luxurious lobby (which originally featured a fountain and pool with live alligators) with its 70’ high ceilings, mezzanine, stained glass skylight, faux marble columns, sweeping staircase, tapestries, and replica period furniture. Period memorabilia is on display in the Great Hall, which is accessible by the Main Street entrance.
The Jefferson Hotel is located at 104 W. Main St. The Jefferson is a full service hotel that is open to the public. Call 804-424-8014, or consult The Jefferson website for additional information. The Jefferson Hotel has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey. The hotel is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America.
John Marshall House
The John Marshall House, home of the distinguished Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court for 45 years, is a surviving early residential building in a section of Richmond that now has office and hospital buildings. Like many Richmonders during his time, Marshall owned a “square”, or four large lots that comprised a city block. Famous Richmond preservationist Mary Wingfield Scott referred to such properties as "plantations-in-town," with their auxiliary buildings and gardens in addition to the main houses. Marshall's square included the house, his law office, a laundry, kitchen, carriage house and stable, and garden.
Begun in 1788 and completed in 1790, the house became Marshall’s home when he was emerging as leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia. While serving in Congress and in President John Adams’ cabinet, Marshall was often away in Washington D.C. After becoming Chief Justice in 1801, however, he was able to spend significantly more time at home in Richmond, when the Supreme Court was not in session. He traveled to Washington, D.C. when the court was in session. He also traveled when serving as a Federal district judge. Marshall undoubtedly wrote many of his important opinions at this address, where he resided until the end of his distinguished judicial career and his death in 1835. Justice Marshall participated in more than 1,000 decisions during his 30 years on the Supreme Court, some with lasting importance in strengthening the Federal Government and the Supreme Court.
The brick house with its temple-front, four-room plan, and Adamesque interior looks much as it did when Marshall owned it. It combines Federal characteristics such as Flemish-bond brickwork, a Roman temple pediment, and Neo-classical motifs with Georgian elements including rubbed brick lintels, an English-bond brick water table, and paneled interior walls and wainscoting. Archeological and architectural analysis of the house revealed that the porches on three sides of the house were not part of the original construction. Declarations of insurance issued by the Mutual Assurance Society indicate that Marshall made several modifications to the house prior to 1815.
The property remained in the Marshall family until 1911. The City of Richmond then bought it to build the now demolished John Marshall High School, which stood directly behind the house. Today the John Marshall Courthouse fills half of the original square. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Preservation Virginia administers the house, which has been open to the public since 1913. <
The John Marshall House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 818 E. Marshall St. between 9th and Marshall Sts. in downtown Richmond. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. Operated as a house museum by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), the house features a collection of furnishings and artifacts, many belonging to the Marshall family, and is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am to 4:30pm, Sunday 12:00 to 5:00pm. A Court End Passport includes admission to the John Marshall House, the Valentine History Center, the Wickham-Valentine House, and Monumental Church (open weekends May through October). Fees for adults are $10, seniors/students $7. For additional information call 804-648-7998 or visit the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Preservation Virginia or the John Marshall Foundation websites. The John Marshall House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey. The John Marshall House is the subject of an online lesson plan, The Great Justice at Home. The lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
Joseph P. Winston House
Built in 1873-74 for successful wholesale grocer Joseph P. Winston, this three-story house in downtown Richmond features one of the city’s most elaborate and unique cast-iron porches. The Joseph P. Winston House is one of the few remaining 19th-century residential buildings on Grace Street, which is now predominantly commercial. With its curved mansard roof and intricate iron porch and fence, the house stands as an isolated example of 19th-century building practices and styles used during the period of Reconstruction in the South following the Civil War. Constructed when prefabricated building components were gaining popularity, the home incorporates many mass-produced elements featured in builder catalogs of the time. These include the cornice, ironwork, and interior doors and moldings.
Winston’s home is significant architecturally and also as a document of the city’s changing residential trends. In the 1870’s, affluent professionals and merchants occupied its Grace Street neighborhood. Winston was a prosperous merchant who came to Richmond in 1850, most likely from Hanover County. He conducted a brisk wholesale grocery and commission business until his death 30 years later. His family occupied the house until 1895. The home had a succession of owners until the Joel family purchased it in 1929. The Joels founded the Richmond Art Company and constructed the building next door, which remains attached to the Joseph P. Winston House. Prominent Richmond architect Duncan Lee designed the Richmond Art Company building in 1920. Together, the two buildings illustrate a residential neighborhood that later turned largely commercial.
The Joseph P. Winston House is located at 101-103 East Grace St. and now houses the offices of the Richmond branch of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). For information, call 804-646-0516.
Richmond merchant Horace L. Kent commissioned Boston architect Isaiah Rogers to design this Franklin Street mansion in 1844. Most of Rogers’ works, including several important hotels, have been destroyed. The Kent-Valentine House is one of his few surviving residential designs. The building was originally a three-bay Italianate-style dwelling skirted by an intricate cast-iron veranda. In 1904, Granville G. Valentine, owner of a meat-extract company, engaged the Richmond architectural firm of Noland and Baskervill to expand the house into a five-bay composition, extending the veranda. The veranda was replaced by the present Ionic portico around 1909. The final result is a successful amalgamation of antebellum and early 20th-century styles. The original Italianate bracketed cornice was extended across the addition to unify the composition. Portions of the cast-iron veranda were reused for the portico railing.
Surviving on the interior are Rogers’ exceptional Gothic Revival double parlors, some of the best examples of Gothic-style rooms in the state. These have been handsomely restored with prior color schemes and furnishings. The parlors provide an interesting contrast to Noland and Baskervill’s Georgian Revival stair hall and drawing room. The latter is embellished with Corinthian pilasters.
The property was placed under preservation easement donated to the state by the Valentine family in the early 1970s. It was subsequently sold to the Garden Club of Virginia which uses it as its state headquarters and makes it available for special functions.
The Kent-Valentine House is located at 12 East Franklin St., adjacent to Linden Row. The interior can be visited by contacting the Garden Club of Virginia at 804-643-4137. The Kent-Valentine House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
The eight attached Greek Revival row houses of Linden Row are reputed to be the last survivors of a series of rows built on Franklin Street between c. 1840 and c. 1860. They are distinguished examples of their style and housed some of Richmond’s most prominent citizens and influential families. In 1839, James Fleming bought the site on which they sit. In 1847, he built a row of five houses he called “Linden Square” after the linden trees planted in Charles Ellis’ garden. Ellis and his business partner John Allan had previously owned the property on which they created a beautiful garden. Allan and his wife were the adoptive parents of Edgar Poe, who during his childhood played in the garden with the Allan children. The author later referred to the property as Ellison, and local legend has it that this was the "enchanted garden" that Edgar Allan Poe mentions in his famous poem "To Helen."
Samuel and Alexander Rutherford built five additional houses to complete the remainder of the row, after they purchased the western end of the block in 1853. Just before and during the Civil War (1861-65), D. Lee Powell's school, the Southern Female Institute, occupied the two most western houses. Virginia Pegram, widow of General James Pegram the famous Mexican war hero, ran another noted girls school, Mrs. Pegram's school, on the row from 1856 to1866. For many years before and after the war, Linden Row was the home of some of Richmond’s most prominent citizens: Dr. William H. Scott, a well-known druggist; Major Robert Stiles, a distinguished jurist and former officer on the staff of Robert E. Lee; Mary Johnston, noted novelist; and the Mayo, Montague, and Tompkins families. From 1895 to 1906, the highly respected school of Miss Virginia Randolph Ellet, now known as St. Catherine's School, was on the row. Among its early pupils were Irene Langhorne Gibson (“The Gibson Girl”) and Lady Astor, the first female member of the British Parliament.
Collectively, Linden Row is one of Richmond’s finest examples of Greek Revival architecture and a superb Greek Revival row. Each of the houses is three stories high with a basement. They have thin-jointed red brick exteriors, matching Doric entrance porticos, granite window lintels, and a simple wood cornice that runs the entire length of the attached façades. In 1922, the two easternmost houses were demolished to make room for the Medical Arts office building, as the city’s central business district grew westward. The remaining houses on the row were rezoned for business use sometime before 1950, and their interiors were reconfigured to be used for offices and apartments.
Around 1950, noted Richmond preservationist Mary Wingfield Scott began buying up the remaining buildings of Linden Row to ensure their future preservation. In 1971, Linden Row was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1980, Ms. Scott donated the row to Historic Richmond Foundation, which to this day holds easements that are intended to protect and maintain the architectural integrity of the buildings.
Linden Row is located at 100-114 E. Franklin St. and is now an inn with accommodations and facilities for gatherings. Free tours of the rooms are available on request. For information on accommodations, arranging for an event or gathering, or seeing the inn, call 804-783-7000 or visit the Linden Row Inn website. Linden Row has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Maggie L. Walker House
The Maggie L. Walker House, a two-story home with architectural elements in both the Italianate and the Gothic styles, was home to one of the country's most celebrated African American women. Constructed in 1883 by George Boyd, a black builder, the home is in a prime location in the heart of Jackson Ward, the center of Richmond's African American business and social life at the turn of the 20th century.
Maggie Lena Walker was born on July 15, 1864. Her mother was a former slave and servant in the home of Elizabeth Van Lew. At the age of 14, Ms. Walker joined the local council of the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal burial society established in 1867 in Baltimore. The Order administered to the sick and aged, promoted humanitarian causes, and encouraged individual self-help and integrity. As a member of the Order, Maggie Walker held a number of offices including delegate at the Order's biannual national convention. In 1899, the organization elected her as Right Worthy Grand Secretary, a position of leadership she held until her death.
In 1902, Walker established the St. Luke Herald so that the Order could better communicate with the public. The following year she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank and served as its first president—earning her the distinction of being the first woman to charter and serve as president of a bank in the United States. Walker later served as the chairperson of the bank after it merged with two other Richmond banks to become The Consolidated Bank and Trust Company. The latter is still in operation today, across the street from its earlier location at 1st and Marshall Streets, and was the longest continually African American operated bank in the country.
In addition to her work with the bank and the Order, Mrs. Walker was active in her community in many ways. Over the course of her life, she served on the board of several women's organizations, including the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the Virginia Industrial School for Girls. She also served as vice-president of the Richmond branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was a member of the national NAACP board.
Maggie Walker and her husband purchased the Leigh Street house in 1904. They soon began making changes, including the introduction of central heating and electricity. With the addition of several bedrooms and enclosed porches, the home increased from nine to 28 rooms. In 1928, they added an elevator to the rear of the house to accommodate Mrs. Walker, who was confined to a wheelchair.
The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975. The Walker family owned the home until 1979, when the National Park Service and Eastern National Parks and Monuments Association purchased the home and all its contents. The house was then restored to its 1930's appearance. With the renovation of adjacent buildings, the National Park System unit now includes Mrs. Walker's residence of 30 years as well as a visitor center detailing her life and the Jackson Ward community in which she lived and worked. The furnishings found throughout the home today are original family pieces and provide a tangible link to Mrs. Walker's occupancy from 1904 to 1934. Together, the house and the furnishings help visitors learn more about Maggie Walker and the world in which she lived. The surrounding community of Jackson Ward is a National Historic Landmark district.
Main Street Banking Historic District
Main Street Banking Historic District is the historic
heart of Richmond’s financial district. Laid out in 1780,
the district was part of an expansion of Richmond in conjunction with
its designation as Virginia’s capital. Originally known as
“E” Street, Main Street became the primary commercial corridor
and primary east-west route through Richmond in the late 18th century.
The Richmond evacuation fire of 1865 during the Civil War resulted in
destruction of the two to five-story buildings that composed the antebellum
Richmond rebounded after the war, and Richmond’s business community
worked rapidly to reconstruct the financial district. The rebuilding
made extensive use of prefabricated cast iron because of the speed of
erection for cast-iron modular buildings. The distinguished Stearn’s
Building at 1007-1013 East Main Street is one of the best examples
of a cast-iron row in the district. A Baltimore foundry cast the elaborate
facades in 1866 to the designs of George Johnston, who modeled the extraordinarily
intricate facades after the facades of Italian Renaissance Palazzos.
Design details include entrances framed by Corinthian columns and rounded
arches with spiraling vines topped by a garland and rosebud.
Iron fronts made the Italianate style predominant for Richmond’s
commercial buildings in general and those along Main Street in particular.
Richmond builders used a variety of material combinations for Italianate
commercial buildings such as brick, cast-iron, wood, and pressed metal,
but seldom erected complete cast-iron facades after the initial wave.
Additional examples of Italianate architecture include 1112 -1116 East
Main of 1866 and 814-818 East Main Street of 1893. Many other Italianate
buildings were along Main Street before their demolition for various 20th
Prior to their destruction by the evacuation fire, several important bank
buildings stood along Main Street. Banks reestablished themselves during
Reconstruction. One of the finest examples is the Romanesque Revival
style Planters Bank that Charles H. Read Jr. designed in 1893. This
individually listed National Register building at 1200 East Main Street
is a fine brick and brownstone Romanesque Revival style edifice.
Several buildings from the opening decades of the 20th century reflect
the development of Beaux Arts Classical Revival architecture. The Virginia
Trust Building of 1919 at 821 East Main Street is an outstanding terra
cotta-clad building in the form of a Roman triumphal arch. New Yorker
Alfred Bossom and Richmond’s Carneal and Johnston were the architects.
That same year Mowbray and Uffinger, another New York firm, designed the
American Trust Building at 1005 East Main Street. Its beautifully
detailed classicism inside and out is preserved as part of the adaptive
reuse of the building as a restaurant. The exterior of the building
is limestone with rusticated Ionic Columns. The limestone clad former
Bank of Virginia at 800 East Main Street dating from 1931 is another Beaux
Main Street became one of the first streets in the American South to develop as a district of skyscrapers. The tall buildings of the early 20th century reflected the development of classical skyscrapers in New York. One of the first high rises in Richmond was The Mutual Building that New Yorkers Clinton and Russell designed in 1904 at 901 East Main Street. This fine Neoclassical Revival building follows the pattern of a classical column with a massive base, smooth shaft, and projecting capitol. Originally nine stories, it received a three-story addition with Doric pilasters in 1909.
Financial leaders who wanted to revive Richmond’s
economy founded First National Bank in April of 1865, a mere eight days after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
Richmond was without a bank until several citizens met with northern banker
Hamilton G. Fant and associates, who agreed to establish a bank under
Federal charter. By the end of the 19th century, First National
had the highest total assets of all banks in Richmond.
Completed in 1912 at 823 Main Street, the individually
listed 19- story First National Bank building crowned the city’s skyline
in height until 1930. Constructed using early steel-frame technology,
the building combines a monumental scale with fine detailing and Neoclassical
Revival design. First National Bank hired the New York firm of Clinton and
Russell whose architect Alfred Charles Bossom clad the revolutionary steel-frame
building in limestone, granite, and brick and incorporated 50-foot tall
fluted Corinthian pilasters and columns and heavily-molded terra cotta ornamentation
in a learned application of Neoclassical design and proportion. Windows
fill the areas between the columns and pilasters around the base of the
building, making it a clear predecessor to the curtain wall construction
that dominated commercial high-rise architecture after c. 1950. The
interior, though altered somewhat, retains many of the original details
such as marble-clad columns, groin vaults, and bronze elevator doors.
The district includes a number of other important early skyscrapers that
date from the opening decades of the 20th century. The 9-story American
National Bank from1911 at 1001 E. Main Street is the design of Wyatt and
Nolting of Baltimore. The Travelers’ Building of 1910 at 1106-1108
East Main Street is an 11-story building by Clinton and Russell. The 14-story
State and City Bank and Trust Company of 1923 is also by Clinton and Russell.
Main Street Banking Historic District is located along East Main Street between 7th and Governors (13th) Sts. in the heart of downtown Richmond. Two building in this district, the Stearns Iron Front Building and the Virginia Fire & Marine Insurance Building have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Monumental Church is a nationally significant memorial
in honor of the victims of a disastrous theater fire. The building is
also among America’s earliest and most distinctive Greek Revival
churches designed by one of the nation’s most important early architects.
The Richmond Theatre was in a wood-frame building that stood on the site
of Monumental Church in the opening decades of the 19th century. This
theater was a center of activity in Richmond during the busy winter social
season. Tragically, disaster struck in December 1811. Stage scenery caught
on fire. The fire spread quickly and engulfed the building. More than
70 citizens, including the governor, burned or suffocated in the melee
to escape. The toll would have been greater without the heroic efforts
of Gilbert Hunt, a slave blacksmith, and others who rescued individuals
from the conflagration.
The fire was so intense that ashes were all that remained of most of the
victims. The remains were enclosed in a brick vault. Richmond’s
civic leaders sought an appropriate way to memorialize the victims and
agreed to a combination memorial and church. United States Supreme Court
Justice Marshall served as head of the committee to raise funds by public
subscription for the project. The church would serve the rapidly growing
Shockoe Hill section of Richmond. Planners considered several designs
for the monumental building, including those by Benjamin Henry Latrobe
and Robert Mills. Mills, America’s first native-born architect,
won the competition in 1812. The building he designed was substantially
complete by 1814.
Mills’ design is a masterpiece of Neoclassicism with four distinct
components. The first is a three-sided portico that shelters the marble
monument to the victims of the fire. The portico functions as a separate
structure to house the monument. It consists of four niches that face
the interior, a ceremonial entrance to the sanctuary, and a ceiling of
ornamental plasterwork. In the center of the portico is the monument itself,
a square marble sarcophagus topped by an urn. The monument on view today
is a careful reconstruction of the original, which had substantially deteriorated.
The monument reflects the racial diversity and racial hierarchy of the
more than 70 victims of the fire, with whites listed on the upper portion
of the monument and African Americans listed below. The second component
of the design, the north and south stair towers, serve as the regular
entrances to the sanctuary, and the elaborate cantilevered stairs provide
access to the second floor galleries.
The third component is the octagonal auditorium-type sanctuary topped by a round dome. The first floor of the sanctuary has the original box pews owned by the pew holders. Richmonders purchased pews to raise money for the church, and since most of the pew holders were Episcopal, their affiliation determined the denomination of the church. Pew holders in the church included such notables as Justice Marshall; attorney and prominent property owner John Wickham; and John Allan, the stepfather of Edgar Allan Poe. The large gallery in the sanctuary accommodated the non-pew holders who worshipped at the church. A number of notable persons worshipped in Monumental Church, including the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. The round dome of the sanctuary is constructed with the Delorme laminated timber method. Mills designed several churches with such domes including those in Philadelphia, Charleston, and Richmond. Monumental is the only one of these to survive. The Delorme dome is similar to one used at Monticello, where Robert Mills studied architecture. On top of the dome is a large lantern.
At the rear of the church is the fourth component of the Mills design, a massive brick tower. The tower contains a large brick niche where the pulpit is located, as well as offices and storage space. Mills designed the tower to support a large steeple that was never constructed.
The ornamentation of the building is full of funerary symbols. On the exterior, the Doric entablature decoration includes lachrymatories (Greek funerary urns). On the interior, column capitols and window moldings are in the form of sarcophagus lids. The Ionic columns flanking the pulpit have upturned torches symbolizing the extinguishing of light. Mills originally intended even more funerary symbolism, such as an unexecuted allegorical sculptural group that was to be atop the portico.
Monumental Church remained an active congregation until 1965, and for a time served as the chapel of the Medical College of Virginia. The building is at present owned by Historic Richmond Foundation, which is restoring it.
Monumental Church, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 1224 E. Broad St. near Capitol Square and the Court End neighborhood. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The church is open to visitors on weekends only, May through October. Visitors may purchase a Court End Passport, which includes admission to the church, the Valentine Richmond History Center, the Wick-ham-Valentine House, and the John Marshall House. Fees for adults are $10, seniors/students $7. For information, call the Valentine Richmond History Center at 804-649-0711, or visit the Historic Richmond Foundation website. Monumental Church has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
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.
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.
Old City Hall
Old City Hall is a masterpiece of monumental High Victorian Gothic design. This grand edifice remains a testament to the ambition and pride in democracy of the people of Richmond. Completed in 1894, eight years after the groundbreaking ceremony, Old City Hall served as Richmond’s city hall until the 1970s, when a new city hall was constructed. The third Richmond municipal building on this site, Old City Hall occupies an entire city block overlooking Capitol Square. The original City Hall and Courthouse stood on this site from 1816 to 1875.
City Engineer Wilfred Cutshaw led the efforts to build a new and substantial replacement for the 1816 building. A national architectural competition resulted in the selection of Elijah Myers of Detroit, the designer of the State capitols of Michigan, Colorado, Texas, and Idaho and winner of the international competition for the Parliament Buildings in Rio de Janeiro.
The bids for the elaborate Gothic Revival design came in vastly over budget due to massive materials and extensive ornamentation. City Engineer Wilfred Cutshaw futilely attempted to manage the cost of the project by serving as the project contractor and hiring day laborers. In the end, the project cost an astounding $1.3 million dollars, a colossal expenditure for a public building in that era, greatly exceeding the original $300,000 estimate.
Dominated by two large asymmetrical towers, the Broad Street façade of the building is reminiscent of town halls in Belgian cities. The stone exterior is beautifully detailed ashlar with buttresses and pointed arches. Of monumental scale, Old City Hall measures 170 feet by 140 feet culminating with the clock tower, which rises to a height of 195 feet. The most notable interior feature is an impressive skylighted central court surrounded by arcaded galleries.
An important specialist, James Netherwood was the subcontractor for the stone portion of Old City Hall’s construction. Netherwood, an English immigrant, provided the “Petersburg” granite quarried locally along the James River. Netherwood’s workers made the vast amount of smooth and “pitched” ashlar blocks of building stone used in the construction of the building. They relied on steam-driven saws and polishing tools developed in Britain in the 19th century. Netherwood's beautifully detailed and finished exterior represents a high point for the Richmond granite industry. Old City Hall is the largest granite building in the Richmond.
Another specialist, Richmond iron founder, Asa Snyder, cast the grills and fencing along with the magnificent cast iron atrium, a masterpiece of cast iron architecture. Snyder, a New York immigrant, was a leader in the development of architectural cast iron in Richmond. Restored to its original polychrome color scheme, the atrium is an outstanding example of, and a high point for cast iron architecture in Richmond.
Old City Hall survives despite at least two proposals to demolish it. In 1915, a scant 20 years after completion of the building, a proposal for a civic center suggested removing the building to create a mall extending north from the capitol. After the building closed in 1971, demolition was again seriously considered. Saving the building was a significant preservation victory, and rehabilitation in the early 1980s as offices returned it to its former glory. At present, the building is being considered for use as state offices.
Old City Hall occupies an entire city block, bounded on the west by 10th St., on the east by 11th St., on the south by Capitol St., and on the north by E. Broad St. The first floor of the building is open to the public and may be visited Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm, for free. Old City Hall has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. Old City Hall has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Old First Baptist Church
Famed architect Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia provided the restrained but authoritative Greek Revival design for the Old First Baptist Church. Walter, best known as architect for the dome of the U.S. Capitol, designed some 10 buildings for Virginia. Old First Baptist is his only remaining Richmond work. Construction began in 1839, and two years later, the congregation moved in. Walter’s design, dominated by a Doric portico in muris, had a strong influence on the city’s ecclesiastical architecture. At least four Baptist churches were modeled directly after it, including the old First African Baptist church just two blocks away.
During the Civil War, the church was used as an emergency hospital for Confederate wounded. The congregation sold the building to the Medical College of Virginia in 1928. The Baptists subsequently built a large new church on Monument Avenue and gave it a Greek Doric portico modeled on that of the parent church. Threatened with demolition on in the 1970s, Old First Baptist has since been sympathetically renovated by Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine to serve as a student study center. The sanctuary is largely intact and preserves its original three-sided gallery. A handsome plaster ceiling medallion accents the space. Despite the surrounding tall buildings of the medical school complex, the building maintains a strong architectural presence on Broad Street.
Old First Baptist Church is located on the corner of E. Broad and 12th Sts. one block from Capitol Square. Although its primary importance is its exterior, the interior can be visited by inquiring within.
Built in 1859 for Samuel Ayres, the Putney Houses at 1010 and 1012 East Marshall Street are fine examples of antebellum Italianate town houses. They are particularly noteworthy for their ornamental ironwork, which the Phoenix Iron Works produced locally. From 1862 until 1894, Samuel and Stephen Putney owned and lived in the two town houses. Both father and son were in the shoe manufacturing business. Samuel Putney’s house at 1010 is a three-story Italianate row house with a stucco façade scored to look like stone. The exterior features rich architectural decoration, including a paneled frieze below the bracketed cornice and windows topped with heavy semi-circular lintels. A cast iron one-story porch across the front is one of the building’s most delicate but distinguishing features. Stephen Putney’s home at 1012, while not as ornate as the father’s house, is nonetheless a fine example of antebellum residential architecture in Richmond. A richly carved entablature over the front door graces the otherwise simple façade, but the east side of the building features a magnificent two-story cast iron veranda that is unique in Richmond, and an outstanding example of its type.
The Putney Houses are located in the once-fashionable Court End area, which housed many of Richmond’s early elite. Although the streets once had elegant residences like these, the neighborhood has changed with the growth of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia campus in the area. Along with the Valentine Museum behind them, these houses help give a sense of the historic quality and domestic scale to this important block. Today, the Samuel Putney house is home to various administrative offices for the health sciences and external affairs divisions of the medical campus. The Stephen Putney house contains administrative offices for the vice president for health sciences and the Medical College of Virginia Foundation.
The Putney Houses are located at 1010 and 1012 E. Marshall St. They generally are not open to the public. 1010 E. Marshall St. has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Second Presbyterian Church
Completed in 1848, Second Presbyterian Church was the first Gothic style church built in a city known for its allegiance to classical architecture. Patterned after a design by Minard Lafever, author of the 1829 publication Young Builder’s General Instructor, the church was enthusiastically described in a local paper of the day as “a great ornament to the city” and “the most perfect and beautiful specimen of Gothic architecture.” Its inspiration is believed to have been Lafever’s “new National Scotch Church” from Plate LXVI depicted in the Instructor. Second Presbyterian was known for many years as “Dr. Hoge’s Church.” Reverend Moses Drury Hoge became pastor of First Presbyterian Church in 1845 and served the congregation for 50 years. He was an inspired orator, and the man who spurred his small congregation to build what was called “the most beautiful church in Virginia.” Stonewall Jackson was among the church’s most distinguished parishioners.
As originally built, the church was a long rectangular building with aisles and galleries running its length on either side. Rooms containing a library and the pastor’s study flanked each side of the pulpit, and at the opposite end of the building was the entrance vestibule with curving stairs leading to the galleries. In 1873, the addition of a 100’ long transept modified its original design (with just a nave). The ceiling was remodeled at this time, and the original paneled galleries were continued into the two transept arms.
Inside the church, an impressive hammer beam ceiling of dark stained wood lends elegance to an otherwise simple interior with plaster walls (painted at one point in time to look like coursed stone) and lancet windows, a feature typical of Gothic architecture. Except that the brick is no longer painted the original gray, the exterior of Second Presbyterian looks very much as it did at the time of its construction in the mid-19th century. The building stands as a landmark on the edge of Richmond’s growing central business district. In 1945, John Knox Press of Richmond published Wyndham B. Blanton’s book The Making of a Downtown Church, which tells the history of Second Presbyterian from 1845 to 1945.
Second Presbyterian Church is located at 9 North 5th St. and is open to the public. For information, call 804-649-9148 or visit the church's website.
Shockhoe Hill Cemetery
The City of Richmond established Shockoe Hill Cemetery in 1822 reflecting a developing nationwide trend at the time to have cities provide safe, sanitary places for burials in suburban settings. Shockoe Hill superseded the first public burial ground in Richmond at St. John’s churchyard, which was largely full by 1820, and provided a public burial ground removed from the developed portion of the city. The cemetery is historically significant for the layout of its grounds, the remaining 19th-century botanical specimens, the great variety of stone and metal art works, and as the final resting place for distinguished individuals.
The oldest portion of Shockoe Cemetery is the four-acre northwest section. The purchase of additional land in 1833, 1850, and 1870 expanded the cemetery to the present 12.7 acres. Richard Young, the Richmond City Surveyor, laid the cemetery out on a regular grid with sections for burial. Families could purchase full, half, and quarter sections for family burials. The city reserved the eastern side for single burials. Roadways named A, B, C, and D divided the cemetery into nine islands. A brick wall from the early 19th century encloses the cemetery.
The city landscaped the cemetery in the 19th century with trees and ornamental shrubs planting it extensively with Virginia elms, willows, and other suitable trees. In addition, families planted their sections with roses and other ornamental shrubs. Despite a decline in the number of trees over the years, surviving trees include Virginia elm, pin oaks, Kentucky coffee, lilac, silver maple, eastern red cedar, locust, and yew.
Shockoe Cemetery is the final resting place for many prominent early Richmonders and others. Revolutionary war hero Peter Francisco is interred in the cemetery, as is United States Supreme Court Justice John Marshall and early Virginia Governor William H. Cabell. Richmond’s first mayor, William Foushee; prominent Richmond attorney and property owner, John Wickham; and Edgar Allan Poe’s foster parents, John and Frances V. Allan also rest there. Graves of Civil War soldiers who fought for both the North and the South lie in the cemetery. The United Daughters of the Confederacy placed a granite marker there in 1938 to commemorate them. Directional signage guides visitors to the most noteworthy residents of the cemetery.
A diverse array of 19th-century funerary art in stone and metal by master artists commemorates those interred there and illustrates the new more positive attitudes toward death and eternal life and the influence of nature in the 19th century. Flowers, evergreens, and trees embellish artworks. Fraternal insignias on the monuments reflect the importance of fraternal organizations like the Odd Fellows. Some of the earliest monuments are tabletop graves. Granite and marble obelisks are scattered throughout the cemetery as are a number of ornate marble monuments executed in a variety of Classical and Gothic motifs. Many of the monuments are marked as the work of Richmond stonecutters.
The cemetery has wrought iron entrance gates and cast iron section enclosures. Many of the enclosures are from Richmond foundries and consist of fencing used to enclose a family-owned section. All of the once-common wood and most of the iron enclosures are now gone. Granite coping around sections became common in the closing decades of the 19th century.
Shockoe Cemetery long ago ceased to have active burials. For much of the last 100 years it suffered from a lack of attention. National Register designation and the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Marshall, arguably the most famous occupant of the burial ground, fostered interest in preservation. The Friends of Shockoe Cemetery are working diligently to preserve the historic elements of the cemetery and were instrumental in erecting a Virginia historic highway marker. The City of Richmond owns and maintains the cemetery as a place of historic burial.
Shockoe Hill Cemetery is located at the junction of Hospital and 2nd Sts. on the north side of Richmond just across Interstate 95 from downtown. It is across the street from Hebrew Cemetery and near the Barton Heights Cemeteries. For additional information, visit the City of Richmond cemeteries website.
St. Paul's Church
Philadelphia’s noted architect of the Greek Revival,
Thomas S. Stewart, designed St. Paul’s Church. Stewart was also
responsible for the monumental Egyptian
Building, completed in the same year as the church, 1845. St. Paul’s
is a noteworthy example of Greek Revival architecture. Built of stuccoed
brick in the form of a Roman temple, the church has a podium base and
side bays separated by pilasters modeled after St. Luke’s in Philadelphia.
The Roman form incorporates Greek Revival styling with a high degree of
detail. A massive entrance portico of eight columns with ornate Corinthian
capitals dominates the exterior of the building. An octagonal dome replaced
the original 225 foot-high spire, long since removed due to fear of its
On the interior, impressive plaster reliefs on the ceiling and Tiffany
stained glass windows complement the grand Corinthian columns that frame
the building’s nave and circular apse. The original pews are still
in use. The architect also designed the intricate, locally-made cast iron
fence that rings the property. Richmond architects Baskervill & Son
designed the 1959 stuccoed parish house and connecting colonnade that
admirers describe as a restrained and handsome asset to the church complex.
St. Paul’s has served as a house of worship for some of the South’s most famous citizens including Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and many of Virginia’s governors. During the morning service at St. Paul’s on April 2, 1865, President Davis received word that General Lee and the Confederate army were on the brink of defeat at Petersburg, Virginia. Thus began the infamous evacuation of Richmond and subsequent fire that would destroy much of the city. This is just one of the many historical associations that make the church one of the South’s most significant landmarks.
St. Paul’s Church is located at 815 E. Grace St. on the southwest corner of 9th and Grace Sts. The church is open to the public. For information, call 804-643-3859 or visit the St. Paul's Episcopal Church website.
St. Peter's Church
Dating from 1834, St. Peter’s Church is considered one of the gems of 19th century ecclesiastical architecture in Richmond. The oldest Roman Catholic Church in the city, St. Peter’s served as a cathedral until the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at Cathedral Place and Laurel Street superseded it in 1905. Designed loosely in the Greek Revival style, the building is constructed of stuccoed brick and features a tall and narrow pedimented entrance portico with paired Doric columns. This latter arrangement is similar to that on the White House of the Confederacy of 1818 at 1201 East Clay Street, albeit at a larger scale. A graceful Doric entablature encircles the church, and the stepped parapet leads up to a square cupola and octagonal dome, similar to the arrangement of St. Paul’s Church across the street to the east. Pilasters topped with Ionic capitals divide the bays on the interior. Short transept arms and a semicircular apse subtly reinforce the cruciform shape of the building.
In its early years, the church congregation consisted of a large number of Irish and German immigrants, a number of whom worked on the James River and Kanawha Canal. Many important people later attended St. Peter’s including Littleton Tazewell, Governor of Virginia from 1834 to 36; various French consuls who made Richmond their home; Civil War General Beauregard; and Pearl Tyler, daughter of President Tyler, who had her wedding there. The building received a substantially renovation in 1854 and is still used today as a downtown parish church.
St. Peter’s Church is located at 800 E. Grace St. The church is open to the public. For information, call 804- 643-4315.
Sterns and Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Buildings
The Stearns Iron-Front and Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Buildings, known collectively as “the Iron Fronts”, are a series of cast iron-fronted commercial buildings. Construction began in 1866, a mere year after downtown Richmond burned to the ground near the end of the Civil War. Representing the ability to strive forward following the setbacks of the Civil War, the Iron Fronts are not only a technological achievement for their time, but one of the most important surviving examples of commercial architecture from late 19th-century Richmond.
In 1865, a Richmond businessman Franklin Stearns purchased the land for $32,100. Stearns bought the property from the President and Directors of the Farmer’s Bank, which was lost in the calamitous 1865 Richmond evacuation fire started by the retreating Confederate army. Completed in 1869, the four-story, Stearns Iron-Front Building occupies more than half a city block, creating an impressive iron façade along the south side of Main Street, known as Stearns Block. The building is in the Main Street Banking Historic District, once known as “Richmond’s Wall Street” for the number of financial businesses located there.
Constructed in four distinct sections, the building’s cast iron façades are extraordinarily intricate. Details include entrances framed by Corinthian columns and rounded arches with spiraling vines, topped by a garland and rosebud. Vines, garlands, and rosebuds also decorate the windows, and a heavy cornice with large and ornate brackets draws the eyes up from the street level. The Stearns Iron-Front Building displays a high level of craftsmanship rarely found today.
John Asher and Williams S. Donnan began construction on another iron-fronted building two blocks to the east in 1866. One of the finest and most ornate iron-front rows surviving in the city, the four-story Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Building is in Italianate style and is reminiscent of Venetian Renaissance palaces. The façade remained unaltered until 1966, when the construction of a modern entrance for a ground-story shop removed the original architectural elements in all four bays of the building. The Donnan-Asher block is in the Shockoe Slip Historic District, Richmond’s oldest mercantile center.
Only two blocks apart, the Stearns Iron-Front Building at 1007-1013 E. Main St. and the Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Building at 1207-1211 E. Main St. are located in the Main Street Banking Historic District and the Shockoe Slip Historic District respectively, bridging two of the most important historic trade areas of Richmond. The ground levels of the buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. The Stearns Iron-Front Building now houses a variety of offices, with retail and restaurants on the ground level. The Shockoe Slip Historic District, which contains the Donnan-Asher Iron Front-Building, is an area of cobblestone streets and alleys that is home to many popular restaurants, cafes and shops. Both the Stearns Iron-Front Building and the Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Building have been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
Originally part of a group of five houses built by tobacco merchant Norman Stewart between 1844 and 1849, the Stewart-Lee House is the solitary domestic survivor of what once was one of Richmond’s finest residential blocks. The house ranks among the best-preserved remaining examples of the three-story Greek Revival town houses popular in Richmond from c. 1840 to c. 1850. The building still survives largely because of its brief historical connection to General Robert E. Lee.
When Norman Stewart died in 1856, he left the building to his nephew John Stewart, who rented it to General George Washington Custis Lee, Robert E. Lee’s son, and a group of young Confederate officers. The officers used the house as the “bachelor’s mess” until 1864, when Robert E. Lee’s wife and daughters arrived to live there after the confiscation of their home, Arlington. General Lee retired to the house joining his family on April 15, 1865, following the surrender of the Confederate army at Appomattox. The family left Richmond together for the country in June of that same year. Matthew Brady took his famous photographs of General Lee while he lived in the house.
Constructed to harmonize with other dwellings on “Stewart’s
Row”, the house is a freestanding building. A three-story duplex
originally flanked it on the east and a row of 2½-story gable-roofed
houses on the west. These tall, “shoe box-shaped” buildings
generally had a side hall plan and a full basement. They occupied most
of their relatively small lots.
The Steward-Lee House is located at 707 East Franklin St. and now houses offices. It may be possible to arrange a visit. For information, call 804-643-2797. The Steward-Lee House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
A cast iron fence decorated with Greek frets, fluted posts topped with
pineapples, and a diamond and star pattern encloses the shallow front
yard. Except for the gate, the fence is identical to that at the Barret
House, dating from the same year. An iron boot-scraper mounts a stone
block to the left of the front portico, and a stone block set into the
red brick façade of the building reads, “The residence of
the family of General Robert E. Lee 1864-1865 and to which he retired
When a high-rise office building was built next door in 1967, underpinnings
were placed under the west wall of the house, and steel beams were driven
into the ground near its front. On the east side of the house a brick
herringbone wall and granite steps descend towards the rear garden, which
now faces a parking lot. Renovated for use as offices, the building now
house the Home Builders Association of Virginia.
The Stewart-Lee House is located at 707 East Franklin St. and now houses offices. It may be possible to arrange a visit. For information, call 804-643-2797. The Stewart-Lee House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Built in 1845 by Samuel Taylor for his son William F. Taylor, the Taylor-Mayo House, now known as the Mayo Memorial Church House, is the only surviving private residence in Richmond in the form of a Greek temple. The building stands at the northeast corner of Franklin and Jefferson Streets set back from a shallow front yard surrounded by a decorative cast iron fence. The two-story brick mansion is covered in stucco and has a five-bay façade dominated by a portico with a pediment and massive Ionic columns.
In 1872, Peter H. Mayo, one of Richmond’s wealthiest citizens, bought the house. He was the owner of P.H. Mayo & Bros., who introduced cigarette manufacturing to Richmond. Having built the family tobacco fortune back up following the destruction of the Civil War, Mayo was in a position to purchase and leave his mark on what was already a fine building. He raised the original one-story flanking wings to two stories, altered the windows, and put a long addition on the west side of the house. The house retained the original design of the façade with its two-story Ionic portico.
Mayo spent enormous sums renovating the interior of the house to incorporate lavish materials such as the polished mahogany with which he finished the parlors, dining rooms, and a library. He also added chambers of olive, walnut, and bird’s eye maple; and inlaid flooring of various hardwoods on the main floor. An elaborate stairway, lit from above by a leaded-glass skylight, features a curved handrail and a fanciful newel post depicting a griffin in carved oak.
After many years of association with the Mayo family, Mr. Mayo’s daughters, Mrs. Benehan Cameron and Mrs. Thomas N. Carter, gave the house to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The building now contains the offices of the bishop and staff of the diocese, which uses it for various church functions. The house still has many of its significant features preserved even after construction of a new addition.
The Taylor-Mayo House is located at 110 W. Franklin St. and is used by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. For information about visiting the house, call 804-643-8451.
United States Post Office and Customs House
Built in 1858 to house Richmond’s Federal customs house, post office, and courthouse, the original portion of the United States Post Office and Custom House is an imposing Italianate building. Its exterior is of local “Petersburg” granite, while the interior makes extensive use of cast iron structural components. Ammi B. Young, supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury Department, designed the original center section. Young, an important architect of the period, was the designer of a number of innovative government buildings in the middle of the 19th century in cities throughout the United States.
When the Congress of the new Confederate States of America selected Richmond as its capital, the building played a significant role in the Civil War. It provided offices for Confederate President Jefferson Davis and other executive staff, including the Confederate Treasury Department. At the end of the Civil War, the Richmond evacuation fire of 1865 left much of Richmond in ruins. With its stout granite walls and inflammable roof, the courthouse was the only building in the area to survive the fire. Following the conflict, the Federal Government reoccupied the building. Ironically, in 1866, the Grand Jury of the United States District Court met on the third floor and indicted Jefferson Davis for treason. Davis returned to the courthouse in 1867 for a hearing but was granted amnesty and never stood trial.
For much of the 19th century the building represented
the extent of the Federal Government in Richmond. During that period,
it housed the customs house, post office, and Federal courts under one
roof. Later additions expanded the building to its current proportions.
Mifflin E. Bell, the Federal supervising architect of that era, provided
direction for the addition of one-bay-wide wings at the corner of the
building in 1887-89. Additional expansions took place in 1910 and the
early 1930s. These enlargements used the same locally quarried granite
as the original section and continued the use of the Italianate style.
The continuity of style and material has made the expansion of the building
into its present-day three-part architectural composition relatively seamless.
The United States Postal Service vacated the building by 1991; only judicial functions
remained. The courts did a master plan for the renovation and preservation
of some of the most significant spaces within the original building, hoping
to restore the finishes to their 1858 appearance. The first phase of the
work took place in 1996-99, and included the restoration of a part of
the Main Street lobby and office space on the third floor. The building
remains in use by the Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court
of Appeals. The building is one of Richmond’s oldest and finest
examples of government architecture.
The United States Post Office and Customs House is located at 1000 E. Main St. close to Capitol Square. The building is accessible only to those doing business in the Federal courthouse. Hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
Virginia Governor's Mansion
The Virginia Governor’s Mansion, formally referred to as the Virginia Executive Mansion, is the oldest governor’s mansion in the United States built for that purpose. Its residents have had an important impact on the history of the nation as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia. Alexander Parris, a New England builder and architect, who resided in Richmond for three years, designed the Governor’s Mansion between 1811 and 1813. It replaced an earlier house adjacent to the present mansion that Governor Thomas Jefferson leased and subsequent governors occupied after the state acquired it in 1782. The dilapidated condition of the original wooden building prompted its replacement by the present executive mansion.
The center-hall Governor’s Mansion is in the Federal style. A hipped roof and a balustrade that connects the four chimneys distinguish the two-story painted brick residence. The building has a slightly projecting center bay where a four columned portico in the “Tower of the Winds” Corinthian order creates a monumental entrance to the building. The façade is ornamented with decorative panels of garlands and swags.
The interior of the house evolved in two primary phases. The stair hall and two front rooms on the first floor retain their original early 19th-century appearance and feature decoration and furnishings of that period. A major renovation in 1906 by the architect Duncan Lee opened up the rear rooms of the building and added a large ballroom decorated in a suitably classical mode. The private apartments of Virginia’s governors are on the second floor of the mansion.
A sunken garden is to the south of the house. Overlooking the garden are the original kitchen quarter and stables where the slaves and servants of Virginia governors resided and worked. Family and staff of the governor use the dependencies and garden.
The Virginia Governor’s Mansion is the oldest building continuously used as an executive residence in the United States. Virginia governors who occupied the house witnessed and played a role in a number of important events in the history of the state and the nation such as Nat Turner’s Rebellion, John Brown’s raid, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the reception of dignitaries including Winston Churchill and Admiral Byrd. In 2007, Virginia’s governor received Queen Elizabeth II at the mansion on her royal visit in honor of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Virginia.
The Virginia Governor’s Mansion, the Virginia Executive Mansion, is located at the northeast corner of Capitol Square near the intersection of Broad and 12th Sts. in downtown Richmond. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The Governor’s Mansion can be viewed from Capitol Square daily from 7:00am to 11:00pm and is open for interior tours by appointment and during certain open houses. Call 804- 371-2642 for information or visit the Governor's Mansion website by searching for it in the official tourism website of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia Governor's Mansion and its Summer Kitchen have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Virginia State Capitol
The Virginia State Capitol, which Thomas Jefferson designed with Charles-Louis Clérisseau, was the first Roman Revival building in America and the first American public building in the form of a classic temple. The building was the site of significant events in American history while it was the Virginia State Capitol and in its role as the Capitol of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865.
In 1779, the Virginia General Assembly authorized relocation of the seat of Virginia’s government from Williamsburg to Richmond. In the legislation, the state established Directors of Public Buildings, whose job was to expand the city to the west of present-day 12th Street and to acquire six squares (city blocks) of land for government buildings. The relocation authorization called for using two squares for an executive mansion and one square each for the executive offices, legislature, courts, and a market. Governor Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Directors of Public Buildings supervised the planning of Shockoe Hill, including the Capitol Square area, in 1780.
The first step toward construction of a new capitol occurred in 1782 when the Virginia General Assembly agreed to consolidate the executive, legislative, and judicial branches into a single site with one building. By 1784, Virginia’s Directors of Public Buildings acquired six contiguous city squares. This 12-acre site included the original executive mansion and space for construction of a new capitol building. In 1785, the directors hurriedly broke ground on a new capitol building when the Virginia General Assembly began discussion of moving the state capital out of Richmond.
At that time, one of the directors, Thomas Jefferson, served as the United States Ambassador to France. Jefferson intervened during the initial construction of the capitol and convinced his fellow directors to adopt an alternative design. From France, Jefferson sent an architectural model (which is on display in the capitol) and plans for a temple-form capitol to house all three branches of Virginia’s government. Jefferson and his French architectural collaborator Charles-Louis Clérisseau modeled their design on the Maison Carrée, a Roman Temple in Nimes, France, considered a model of perfect classical design. Construction of Jefferson’s capitol progressed slowly, and the stucco-clad brick building was not complete until 1800.
Although Capitol Square provided a dramatic setting for the capitol, the square remained an unimproved and raw tract for a number of years. In 1816, Maxmilian Godefroy designed and the Commonwealth of Virginia began implementation of a formal landscaping plan. In 1850, landscape designer John Notman of Philadelphia received a commission to redesign the square grounds, on the strength of his 1847 landscape design of Hollywood cemetery. In his redesign of the square, Notman overlaid the right-angled formal landscaping of the Godefroy plan in the curvilinear “natural” style popular in the middle of the 19 century.
In 1807 John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, presided over Aaron Burr’s trial for treason in the building. Several Virginia constitutional conventions took place there, as did the state secession convention in 1861. General Robert E. Lee accepted command of the Virginia armed forces before the secession convention in the capitol in April 1861. During the Civil War, the Virginia State Capitol served as the Capitol of the Confederacy where the Confederate Congress met from July 1861 to April 1865. The interior of the capitol collapsed during a sensational trial in the Supreme Court chamber in 1870, and for a time, the state considered demolishing the building.
The first major renovation came at the turn of the 20th century. Architect John Kevan Peebles led a major renovation of the capitol from 1904 to 1906, removing and replacing all of the original stucco on the building. The new stucco coating reshaped the curvature of the portico columns on the front. The renovation also included removing the exterior stairs on each side of the building and replacing them for the first time with stairs front of the portico. Steel was used extensively inside to reinforce the structural systems, but the spaces remained essentially intact. The most significant changes to the building came in the form of two new wings, an eastern or right hand wing to house the House of Delegates and a western wing for the State Senate.
Between 2005 and 2007, the Capitol underwent another major renovation. This work created a new entrance and underground visitor center on Bank Street and restored the building to the c. 1907 appearance on the interior and exterior. Other changes included constructing a major new extension to the building beneath the hill in front of capitol and a major public entrance on Bank Street. The Commonwealth of Virginia led by the Capitol Square Preservation Council adopted a new landscape master plan in 2004 that is now being used to rehabilitate many aspects of the 19th-century landscape.
The Capitol, a National Historic Landmark, is located downtown on Capitol Square bounded by 9th, Capitol, Governor, and Bank Sts. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The building is open free to all visitors Monday-Saturday 8:30am to 5:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The Capitol Square Grounds are open daily from 7:00am to 11:00pm. For more information, visit The Virginia State Capitol website. Adjoining the Capitol are the Governor’s Mansion, Old City Hall, the Bell Tower, the United States Post Office, and St. Paul’s Church. The Virginia State Capitol has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Virginia Wasington Monument
The Virginia Washington Monument became the first of Richmond’s many outdoor monuments and the second equestrian statue of George Washington in the United States. The monument influenced others across the nation to erect representational memorial statues. Interest in establishing an outdoor Virginia Washington Monument in Capitol Square began even before the Virginia General Assembly established a public subscription fund for it in 1817.
The French émigré architect, Maximilian Godefroy, proposed a monument design in 1816, a large triumphal arch monument in front of the Virginia State Capitol portico. The Godefroy monument never came to be, but his extensive formal landscaping was in place by 1820. This early master plan for the square proposed a never constructed combination water tower and observatory on the site later chosen for the Washington Monument.
Virginia’s Washington Monument effort gathered subscriptions for a number of years but did not gain momentum until 1849 when a group of patriotic Richmonders stirred the project into action. The Virginia General Assembly held an architectural competition that year and selected a design by Thomas Crawford, an American sculptor working in Rome. The winning design Crawford submitted largely conforms to the completed Virginia Washington Monument in place today with its base in the shape of a star fort and the three-tiered pedestal for sculptural figures. The stonework of the base was complete by 1854.
Crawford designed three tiers of pedestals with George Washington on top, Virginia patriots in the middle, and a series of allegorical female figures and shields with inscriptions in memory of Revolutionary war principles or events on the bottom. The trophy figures represent the virtues of the revolutionary era and battles and places representing those virtues. The second tier consists of standing figures of Virginia’s leaders during the Revolution: Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, John Marshall, Andrew Lewis, Thomas Nelson, and Patrick Henry. Atop the pedestal is the equestrian statue of Washington. Crawford only finished the sculptures of Washington, Jefferson, and Henry before his death. Crawford’s protégé, another important sculptor Randolph Rogers, completed the remaining pedestal sculptures after the Civil War.
Crawford had the Washington equestrian statue cast in Munich, Germany shortly before his death. A United States frigate transported the figure to Richmond. A group of men and boys hauled the statue to Capitol Square from Rocketts Landing, breaking down a section of fence in the process. The engineer Charles Dimmock rigged an ingenious wooded derrick to hoist the statue on the base, and legend has it he threatened workers at gunpoint when they appeared to be letting go of the rope. The unveiling of the statue was an event of national importance, which took place on Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1858. The statue was one of Richmond’s most prominent attractions, and the Commonwealth erected a cast iron fence around the base in the 1870’s to prevent climbing on the base.
The monument represents the height of the “cult of Washington” in the 19th century. The Commonwealth of Virginia proposed to relocate the remains of Washington there in 1816, but his heir Bushrod Washington refused the request. The hope of making Capitol Square Washington’s last resting place persisted, and Crawford’s design reflects this hope. The base of the monument includes a tomb with a massive stone door to secure the remains of the first president. Efforts to obtain Washington’s remains did not succeed in the 1850’s, and Washington’s intended tomb remains empty.
The Washington Monument is a highly significant work of art by one of the most important early-19th century sculptors in the United States. Recognizing the value of the monument, the Commonwealth of Virginia has undertaken conservation of the granite base and bronze figures in recent years.
The Virginia Washington Monument is located at the northwest corner of Capitol Square, near the intersection of 9th and Broad Streets adjacent to the Virginia State Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, Old City Hall, and St. Paul’s Church. The monument can be viewed from the grounds of Capitol Square, which are open daily from 7:00am to 11:00pm. The Washington Monument has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
West Franklin Street Historic District
West Franklin Street Historic District is an outstanding collection of monumental buildings and grand residences from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The district provides a dramatic and contiguous streetscape between the Monroe Park Historic District to the east and Monument Avenue Historic District to the west. The city extended Franklin Street into this area from the downtown core in the 19th century. The variance of this axis from the neighborhood to the south creates the diverging street pattern from which the Fan neighborhood derives its name.
After the annexation of the area west of Belvidere Street into the city in 1867, the West End became one of the most fashionable residential enclaves in Richmond. The founding of the Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University or VCU, in 1917 resulted in the adaptive reuse of many of the older residential buildings along Franklin Street. Today VCU owns and uses the majority of the historic buildings in the 800 and 900 blocks of West Franklin for classrooms and offices.
Prominent Richmonders made the district Richmond’s preferred residential address in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The architecture on the street closely followed national architectural trends. VCU Founder’s Hall at 827 West Franklin Street with its mansard roof is an important example of the Second Empire style. Construction of the Lewis Ginter mansion c.1890 inaugurated the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture in the city. Harvey Reed of Washington, D.C. designed this impressive mansion at 901 West Franklin Street. The building, with its deep red brick and brownstone, is one of the finest residences of the period. Lewis Ginter merged his firm of Allen and Ginter with James B. Duke in 1890 to create the American Tobacco Company, the biggest American manufacturer of cigarettes until 1911. Gintner’s home became the social center of Richmond.
Many row houses along West Franklin Street followed the lead of the Ginter Mansion. The facades of these dwellings are ornamented with local granite or various combinations of brownstone brick and terra cotta. Queen Anne style buildings at 800 and 826 West Franklin Street feature prominent porches and corner towers.
The architecture of the street shifted to more classical styles architects influenced by the Beaux Arts movement designed in the 1890s. In 1895, the Virginia Commonwealth University President’s House became the first Georgian Revival style home in Richmond. The distinguished Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, Maryland provided the model for this ornate brick home at 910 West Franklin Street. The Richmond firm Noland and Baskervill designed the 1909 Scott-Bocock House at 909 West Franklin and the c. 1919 Hunton House at 810 West Franklin, both important examples of the Renaissance Revival style. The Scott Bocock House features a stone façade and Corinthian portico and the Hunton House a more vertical façade with a one story Corinthian portico and bay windows.
The West Franklin Street District was also the scene of pioneering Richmond efforts in the development of steel frame high-rise apartment buildings in the opening decades of the 20th century. The Renaissance Revival Chesterfield of 1903 at 900 West Franklin Street is a seven-story corner building with oriel windows and a prominent cornice. Carneal and Johnston designed the similar Gresham Court Apartments at 1030 West Franklin Street in 1910.
The attractive setting of the district prompted construction of the fine Noland and Baskervill designed Beth Ahaba Synagogue at 1125 West Franklin Street. The synagogue, which dates from 1904, is an outstanding example of the Renaissance Revival style influenced by Jeffersonian Classicism. Its prominent Doric portico and a dome topped by a lantern are shown off to good advantage by its dramatic site and the terminus of Ryland Street. The Beth Ahabah Congregation Hall is a handsome early 20th century Georgian Revival building housing the Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives.
The grand mansions, town houses, apartment high rises, and religious buildings make the West Franklin Street Historic District one of the great architectural ensembles in any American city. The quality of design and materials make it a noteworthy place to visit.
West Franklin Street Historic District is located on both sides of the 800, 900, 1000, and 1100 blocks of W.Franklin St. between Laurel and Ryland Sts. in close proximity to the Belvidere exits of Interstates 95, 64, and the Downtown Expressway. Because Franklin St. is one-way going east drivers must approach the district from Lombardy St. Many of the buildings are used by Virginia Commonwealth University. The Beth Ahaba Museum and Archives at 1109 West Franklin Street is open to the public. For information, visit the Beth Ahaba website or call 1-804-353-2668. The Palmer House at 211 W. Franklin St. has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
White House of the Confederacy
The White House of the Confederacy served as the Executive Mansion of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865, when Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy. The mansion was the official quarters during the Civil War of the only President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. From this house, Davis fled Richmond on April 3 1865, just before the April 9, 1865 surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. The house was the birthplace of his daughter Winnie, “Daughter of the Confederacy,” and where his son Joseph died in a fall from a porch.
Originally built in 1818 for Dr. John Brockenbrough, the home is one of the finer examples of Federal style homes in the City of Richmond. Celebrated architect Robert Mills designed the mansion. Mills was also responsible four years earlier for the design of the nearby Monumental Church at 1313 East Broad Street.
In addition to its historic interest as the seat of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the home and attached museum rank as the most outstanding repository of Confederate memorabilia in the United States. The Confederate Memorial Literary Society, a group of Richmond women, acquired the house in 1893. Three years later, on February 22, 1896, the building opened as the Confederate Museum and “promptly became the premier national repository of Confederate artifacts, acquiring the majority of its world-famous collection between 1896 and World War I” (Museum of the Confederacy). The white house continues to house an astounding collection of objects associated with the Confederacy and President Davis. The contemporary museum building next door now houses most of the institution's vast collection which includes the Appomatox uniform and sword of Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson’s sword and cap, and items of clothing and equipment associated with other noted Confederate leaders.
Richmond architect Henry E. Baskervill provided direction for fire-proofing and restoring the mansion to museum status in 1895. Another renovation of the house occurred from 1977 to 1988 to restore the white house to its Davis-era elegance complete with period decor, furnishings, and objects. The museum building next door houses three floors of exhibits as well as the Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library and the conservation and preservation efforts. The house and the modern museum building together comprise the Museum of the Confederacy, which serves as an international center of study on the role of the Confederacy in the American Civil War.
The White House of the Confederacy is located at Clay and 12th Sts. in the historic Court End neighborhood, an area surrounded by the growing hospital complex of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV). The White House of the Confederacy has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The house and the museum are open Monday-Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm, Sunday 12:00 to 5:00pm. Fees are charged except for members, children under 7, and active duty military personnel. Call 804-649-1861 or visit the Museum of the Confederacy website for more information.
The Wickham-Valentine House is an elegant neoclassical building constructed in 1812 by prominent Richmond attorney John Wickham and is currently operated as a historic house museum by the Valentine Richmond History Center. Designed by Alexander Parris in the Federal style popular in the early 19th century, the house is brick covered in stucco scored to look like stone blocks. Its back portico gazes upon extensive gardens that at one time stretched across the entire block. Inside, notable features include a dramatic cantilevered staircase with mahogany balustrade, baseboards with hand-carved magnolia buds and blossoms, rare and well-preserved decorative paintings, and a refined Federal style drawing room with an original pair of Charles-Honoré Lannuier card tables.
The home’s wall paintings alone are worth the visit. In keeping with the neoclassical principle that decorations should reflect the purpose of the room, many of the walls in the house are painted according to a specific theme. The library ceiling, for example, pays homage to John Wickham’s passion for knowledge and learning with a painting of a compass, books, protractor, and an astronomical instrument called an astrolabe. The center of the painting is original and has been carefully restored. In the drawing room, merry scenes from Thomas Hope’s Costume of the Ancients (1809) remind the visitor that this space was used to entertain and relax. The dining room is adorned with food and wine motifs.
John and his second wife Elizabeth raised 19 children in the house, with the help of 15 slaves and one paid housekeeper. After Elizabeth’s death in 1853 (John passed away in 1839), the house changed hands several times before Mann S. Valentine II, a successful entrepreneur and collector of artifacts, purchased the house in 1882. Mann made his fortune through the curiously named Valentine’s Meat Juice, a health tonic of pure beef juice. Rumor had it that his collection began with a cigar box filled with arrowheads.
As his personal collection grew, Mann envisioned a museum devoted to history, art, and culture and began in 1892 to go about establishing just such a place. Upon his death the following year, he bequeathed both the house and his personal collection of art and artifacts to the people of Richmond, along with an endowment. In 1898, the house became the Valentine Museum, the first museum in Richmond. Mann’s brother Edward, a renowned sculptor, served as museum president until his death in 1930. The museum is fortunate to have in its collection all of the sculpture, papers, furniture, and memorabilia that Edward Valentine bequeathed in his will and has carefully restored Edward’s sculpture studio.
By 1928, the collection had moved entirely to adjacent row houses acquired by the institution, and the Wickham House became a house museum. The house underwent several transitions in the 20th century, most recently returning to the Federal era/Wickham period. This last restoration, which took place in the 1990s, was driven in large part by the discovery of the original surviving wall paintings. Since then, the museum has continued to acquire items belonging to the Wickham family, including a Breguet mantle clock, decorative urns, and original furniture.
The Valentine Museum became the Valentine Richmond History Center in 2001 and has as its mission to engage, educate, and challenge a diverse audience by collecting, preserving, and interpreting Richmond's history. Guided tours of the Wickham House are included with admission to the History Center and offer visitors a glimpse into the public and private world of the Wickham family. Visitors also may access the basement level of the house, where a self-guided tour explores the lives and private spaces of the family’s slaves.
The Wickham-Valentine House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 1015 E. Clay St. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. The house is part of the Valentine Richmond History Center, which includes exhibitions, archives (available by appointment), Edward V. Valentine’s sculpture studio, Café Richmond, the Valentine Gift Shop, and meeting and event facilities. The History Center is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm, Sunday 12:00 to 5:00pm. Visitors may purchase a Court End Passport that includes admission to the Valentine Richmond History Center, the Wickham-Valentine House, the John Marshall House, and Monumental Church (open weekends May through October). Fees for adults are $10, seniors/students $7. Tours of the Wickham-Valentine House are available every hour Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday 1:00pm to 4:00pm. For information, call 804-649-0711 or visit The Valentine Richmond History Center website. The Wickham-Valentine House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Shockoe Valley and Riverfront
Main Street Station and Trainshed
Main Street Station is an ornate and imposing five-story building with a steep hipped roof and a clock tower at its southwest corner. Regarded as one of Richmond’s most renowned buildings since its opening day in 1901, the depot is a prestigious ornament for the city. Built when rail travel was at the peak of its importance, its architectural grandeur provided a powerful symbol as a gateway to the city.
Constructed over a two-year period spanning the turn of the 20th century and designed in an eclectic variation on the ornate French Renaissance style, Main Street Station originally functioned as the train depot and offices for the Chesapeake and Ohio (C & O) and Seaboard Air Line Railroads. It marked the crossroads of the two lines, with Seaboard Air Line being the major north-south line in the country. The station was at the center of a monumental effort to elevate the entire rail network of central Richmond, and replaced Broad Street Station three miles to the west. The latter, designed by architect John Russell Pope, now houses the Science Museum of Virginia.
Wilson, Harris, and Richards of Philadelphia, a firm that specialized in railroad architecture, designed both the monumental depot building and the attached 400’ long industrial train shed. In 1907, Wilson, Harris, and Richards also designed the French Renaissance style building at 1552 East Main Street, the former Railroad YMCA. It originally catered to railroad workers from the many local rail lines. The building now houses the Old City Bar to the immediate east of Main Street Station’s elevated tracks.
Architecturally, Main Street Station ranks as an excellent example of the influence of the French École des Beaux-Arts ("School of Fine Arts") on American architecture and building. Adapted from French Renaissance architecture, the style of the station is associated with what has been termed Second Renaissance Revival, a style fostered in America by architect Richard Morris Hunt between c. 1880 and c. 1890. Main Street Station is a particularly lavish and imposing example of this style, of which relatively few examples remain. The large cast iron train shed attached to the rear of the building is far more industrial and utilitarian in character, but remains impressive as one of the last examples of its age and type in the country.
The once-bustling transportation hub closed in 1975 due to a decline in passenger rail service. The reopening of the historic station in 2003, however, marked the culmination of years of renovation to this 102-year-old landmark and the return of passenger train service to downtown Richmond. In the years to come, planned upgrades to the station include the integration of bus, trolley, airport shuttle, taxi and limousine services. As Main Street Station continues to transform into a significant multi-modal transportation center, it will once again serve as a gateway to the City of Richmond and its metropolitan region.
Main Street Station and Trainshed, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 1520 E. Main Street. . Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file. An active train station, hours of operation are Monday–Thursday 9:30am to 6:00pm, Friday 9:30am to 9:00pm , and weekends 9:00am to 8:30pm. Main Street Station and Trainshed has been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey. For more information, visit the Richmond Metropolitan Authority website.
Standing aloof from the bustle of the surrounding restaurants, shops, and warehouses of Richmond’s Shockoe Valley, Mason’s Hall is the oldest Masonic Hall in continuous use in the country. The building was completed in 1787 for Richmond Lodge Number 13 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. James Mercer, Grand Master, laid the cornerstone with the assistance of Edmund Randolph, governor of Virginia and a mason himself. Shortly thereafter, the citizens of Richmond met in the hall to instruct their delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Edmund Randolph and John Marshall belonged to what was originally Lodge Number 13, and the masons elected both of them to be Grand Masters of Masonry. The Marquis de Lafayette was made an honorary member when he visited the hall in 1824. The building served as a hospital during the War of 1812. When Federal troops entered Richmond in 1865, a Union General, who was a mason, posted a guard at the building to prevent it from being burned.
The late-Georgian, weatherboarded building, capped by a jaunty cupola, was remodeled in the mid-19th century when much of its exterior trim was replaced by Greek Revival work. The façade is distinguished by a slightly projecting pedimented pavilion with a dwarf portico. The interior has a remarkable set of rooms decked out in Masonic architectural and decorative paraphernalia on all three floors, all relating to the various Masonic rituals Much of the fabric is original. The building is now the home of Richmond Randolph Lodge No. 19.
Mason’s Hall is located at 1807 E. Franklin St. The exterior is visually accessible at all times. The interior is visible to the public only during rare special tours. Mason’s Hall as been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Old Stone House
The Old Stone House, one of Richmond’s only remaining colonial period dwellings, now serves as part of a museum dedicated to the life and work of American poet and storywriter Edgar Allan Poe. Poe never lived in the house, although it stands just blocks away from his first home in Richmond and his first place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe worked as editor for the Messenger under Thomas W. White, a position he held from December 1835 to January 1837. After leaving Richmond, Poe continued to edit and write his sensational tales in Philadelphia and New York.
The house is a rare example of early stone construction in the city, and its coursed rubble stonework probably is of stones from the nearby James River. Although tree-ring dating has suggested a construction date of 1754, the earliest written records of the house date it to 1783. City land-tax books show that a Mr. Samuel Ege, a local flour inspector, lived in the house. He likely inherited the property from his father Jacob Ege, a German immigrant and tailor. The house’s location in Shockoe Bottom (then called Shaccos or Shockoes) afforded convenient access to the many 18th-century flourmills that stood along the canals and millraces adjacent to the river.
Architecturally, the house is of a simple design with a gable roof, two end chimneys, and three asymmetrical dormers on the façade. The interior has a hall-parlor plan typical for the period, plaster walls, and minimal wood trim. A steep staircase leads to the second floor. Behind the house is a handsomely landscaped formal garden, installed sometime in the 20th century. An annex containing an entrance foyer and museum room is an addition to the northwest corner of the house that dates to the same period as the garden. Two buildings on the east side of the garden house additional museum rooms and a gift shop. The southernmost of these two buildings is partially of materials salvaged from the offices of the Southern Literary Messenger where Poe worked.
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) acquired the house in 1911. Because the Edgar Allan Poe Museum complex has been in the house since 1922, the public often refers to the house itself simply as the Poe House. The official Poe Museum website says the following of its namesake: “Called "America's Shakespeare," Edgar Allan Poe created or mastered the short story, detective fiction, science fiction, lyric poetry and the horror story. His dark genius has invited children and adults to read and love literature for over 150 years.”
The Old Stone House is located at 1914 E. Main St. at the corner of 19th and Main Sts. in the heart of the historic Shockoe Bottom neighborhood. The Poe Museum in the house is open to the public for a fee: $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Guided tours are offered on the hour Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 to 5:00pm, Sunday 11:00am to 5:00pm. For information, visit the Poe Museum and Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities websites. The Old Stone House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey
Located in the Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District, the Pace-King House is a rare survivor of the grand mansions built in Richmond just prior to the Civil War. Completed in 1860, the house is an important early example of the Italianate style in Richmond. The home gets its name from two of its occupants, James B. Pace in the 1870s and Mrs. Jane King in the 1880s and '90s. This Italianate mansion is of a grand scale with elaborate embellishment, such as its fine cornice, clearly designed to impress. Most notable is the festive cast iron porch, outstanding in a city already famous for its ironwork. The Philadelphia firm of Wood and Perot, who cast the 1857 James Monroe Tomb in Hollywood Cemetery, is the most likely maker. Other features of the property include a full-width two-story rear porch and a well-preserved kitchen quarter at the rear of the property. Built by black Africans, this auxiliary building is an important African American architectural resource.
Many personalities prominent in Richmond’s commercial and political history have associations with the house. It was originally home to Charles B. Hill, an active member of the local Democratic Party and a long-time alderman of the old Jefferson Ward. Mr. Hill made his living as an auctioneer, and his home was testament to his professional success. Mr. Hill died only two years after moving into the house. After his death, Philip K. White acquired it. A newspaper account from the late-19th century stated that for a time Charles G. Memminger, Secretary of the Confederate Treasury lived there, though Confederate archives do not list the house as an official address. Mr. Memminger may have been a guest of either Mr. Hill or Mr. White, until he found more permanent quarters. That same account reported that here “. . . some of the finest entertainments were given and most brilliant receptions held that distinguish the brief but brilliant days of ‘Dixie’.”
Mr. White died in 1865. James B. Pace, a prominent Richmond businessman, purchased the house at auction. Pace owned and operated the J. B. Pace Tobacco Company on nearby North 22nd Street. He was also a president of the Planters National Bank, one of the founders of the Virginia Trust Company, and a City Treasurer from 1905 until his death in 1920. In 1881, Pace sold the house to Mrs. Jane King, who ran a fuel company and wholesale and retail ice company that her late husband founded in 1856. She enlarged two of the house’s outbuildings for use in the ice business.
A series of three more owners, including the Richmond Methodist Missionary Association, held the property until 1975, when it became a tenement. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities owned it for a time before selling it to a private owner.
The Pace-King House is located at 205 N. 19th St. It is a not open to the public.
Shockoe Slip Historic District
Shockoe Slip Historic District, Richmond’s oldest mercantile district, is a dense area of late 19th-century commercial buildings. The district takes its name from and centers around a triangular cobblestone plaza bounded by East Cary, South 13th, and Canal Streets. Because of its proximity to the canal and the James River, steady quantities of tobacco and produce passed through “The Slip,” especially in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nearly all of the original buildings burned to the ground during the calamitous Richmond evacuation fire of 1865 during the Civil War. Because of the fire, the historic buildings that survive in Shockoe Slip today date mostly to the late 19th century, reflecting the quick rebuilding of the area after the war. An ornate fountain in the center of the plaza dates from 1905 and originally supplied water for the teams of horses that once hauled goods through the area. The fountain has an urn-type design in the Italian Renaissance style, with an octagonal base in solid stone. Charles S. Morgan donated the fountain whose inscription on one side reads “In memory of one who loved animals.”
Most of the historic buildings in the district are from two to four stories in height and were constructed as mills, warehouses, and wholesale outlets, with some serving light industry. The majority are of brick construction in a modified Italianate style, with cast iron detailing (some locally-made) such as window lintels and storefronts. Most of the district’s buildings have new adaptive uses. They now house restaurants, cafes, shops, offices, and residences. Consequently, Shockoe Slip has a new life as a fashionable entertainment and retail center following preservation efforts that began between c. 1970 and c. 1980. The district retains a compact urban feeling and contrasts strongly with the cluster of tall modern bank buildings to the immediate west.
Prominent buildings within the district include the Columbian Block of 1871 at 101 Shockoe Slip and the 1870 Bowers Brothers Coffee Building at 104 Shockoe Slip, both of which front Shockoe Slip proper. The W.R. Hill Building at 114 Virginia Street dates to 1879 and features a 20 bay long cast iron shop front produced by Richmond architectural ironworker Asa Snyder. The four-story Donnan-Asher Iron-Front Building at 1207-1211 East Main Street from 1866, the year following the evacuation fire, is one of Richmond’s most impressive iron-fronted buildings. It is in an Italianate style reminiscent of Venetian Renaissance palaces. Other notable buildings are the former Ladybird Hat Factory of 1907 at 140 Virginia Street, recently renovated for office and restaurant use; and, at 125 South 14th Street, a circa 1910 industrial building housing a contemporary furniture store.
Shockoe Slip Historic District is located from 12th St. to 15th St. and Main St. to Dock St. on the southeastern outskirts of Richmond’s central business district. Shockoe Slip Historic District is Richmond’s oldest mercantile center and home to a lively assortment of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues in close proximity to the Canal Walk and Capitol Square. For information, visit the Richmond River District website. A number of buildings in the Shockoe Slip Historic District have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District
Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District lies between Shockoe Hill and Church Hill at the southern end of Shockoe Valley. The district is the site of the earliest settlement of Richmond and the first residential, commercial, and manufacturing development. Richmond architectural historian Mary Wingfield Scott proclaimed this area the “Valley Where Richmond Began.” The district takes its name from Shockoe Creek, once the western boundary of the original settlement. The now enclosed creek ran up the valley from the James River more or less along the line of present-day 15th Street. Shockoe is the Native American term for flat rock, in this case referring to the large flat rock where Shockoe Creek entered the James River.
A trading post was in this vicinity in the late 17th century. In the 1730s, William Byrd III founded the town of Richmond and commissioned William Mayo to survey the new town. Mayo’s plan of 1737 covered the area bounded by Shockoe Creek on the west, present-day Broad Street on the north, present-day 25th St. to the east, and a town commons along the James River to the south. The right-angled streets of the Mayo Plan provided the plan axis (orientation) for the future expansion of Richmond, and the squares (city blocks) of four ½-acre lots became a module used in future expansions of Richmond.
The oldest building in Richmond, the Old Stone House (now the Poe Museum), may date from this period. The Ege family, pioneering Richmond settlers, constructed this vernacular stone building. In the 1750s, Henrico County built the first of three courthouses at the corner of 22nd and Main Streets. The third jail and courthouse, at 2117 and 2127 East Main Street, is a Romanesque building, which architect Carl Ruhermund designed in 1892. Another important early building in the neighborhood is Mason’s Hall, a Palladian Masonic lodge dating from 1785-87. This handsome building at 1805-1807 East Franklin Street is the oldest Masonic lodge in the United States, and one of the oldest continuously used Masonic lodges in the world.
Main Street served as the route for travelers passing east and west through Richmond, and early on taverns, inns, and shops grew up along this street. The construction of a public market building in 1796 at 17th and Main Streets boosted the commercial vitality of the area. The present market building is the fourth on the site where farmers and food vendors have sold their wares on market days for more than 200 years. The district around the market and Main Street developed as Richmond’s first major commercial area in the 18th and 19th centuries and contains a wide variety of antebellum to late 19th and 20th-century commercial buildings. They are located on the 00 and 100 blocks of North 17th and 18th Streets and the 1700 and 1800 blocks of East Main and Franklin Streets. These two and three-story brick buildings have granite, wood, and iron storefronts, and often pressed metal cornices.
Franklin and Grace became important residential streets early in the history of the neighborhood. One of the oldest houses in Richmond is the Adam Craig House at 1812 East Grace Street. Built in 1785, this large frame house has an 1822 brick kitchen and slave quarter and is situated on an original ½-acre lot. The neighborhood around the Craig House includes the best examples of early residential buildings in the neighborhood. Across Grace Street from the Craig House are brick and frame double houses from the first decades of the 19th century. At 19th and Broad Streets is Elmtree Row, a fine example of a Greek Revival row dating to 1853-1854. The Pace-King House at 205 North 19th Street is an outstanding Italianate mansion with an ornate bracketed cornice and cast iron porch. The house is noteworthy because of the large slave quarters in the rear of the property. It marks the end of residential development in the neighborhood. The Greek Revival and Italianate buildings at 202-208 North 19th Street date from the 1840s to the 1870s. Once threatened with demolition, the front portions of these buildings became part of the recording studio on the site in 1996.
The tobacco industry began in the district in the 18th century with the establishment of tobacco inspection warehouses, where farmers bought their hogsheads of tobacco for storage and inspection. Certificates from the warehouses were a medium of exchange with local tobacco merchants. In the early 19th century, the nature of the tobacco business changed from exporting cured tobacco to the North or Europe as a raw product to manufacturing chewing tobacco in Richmond factories. In tobacco factories such as the William Grant Factory, at 1900 East Franklin Street, slave workers stemmed tobacco leaves and pressed them into cakes of chewing tobacco. The tobacco industry continued to grow in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tobacco factories and warehouse from the 1880-1930 periods are throughout the district. The finest grouping of these is “Tobacco Row” on the north side of Cary Street from the 1800 to the 2600 blocks. These buildings range from traditional brick and wood frame construction of the 19th century to the sleek steel and concrete buildings that date from after 1910. None of the Tobacco Row buildings is an operating factory today. Like most of the industrial buildings in the area, they have been or are being converted to office or residential use.
Improvements in transportation made possible the industrial development of the neighborhood. The Richmond Navigation or Ship Canal was the earliest of the improvements. The canal allowed sailing vessels to come up into the center of Richmond and, with the Tidewater Connection, provided access to canal boats from the canal turning basin. At one time, many warehouses were along the canal where the Richmond Flood Wall now stands. Starting in the 1860s with the Virginia Central Railroad and continued by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad after the Civil War, railroads began to shape the character and economy of the neighborhood. Elevated railroad tracks were a part of the improvements to the railroad network. The confluence of so many railroads prompted construction of Main Street Station in 1902 at 1520 East Main Street. The elevated railroad tracks along the western and southern boundaries of the district date from the same time period as Main Street Station.
The railroad boom in the area prompted construction of buildings to serve the transient population of the city. The Railroad YMCA of 1902, at 1552 East Main Street, served railroad workers. Baltimore architects Archer and Allen designed another building from this era, the Branch Public Baths from 1909 at 1801 East Broad Street. The Kenneseth Israel Synagogue at 209 North 19th by D. Wiley Anderson and the Jewish Settlement House at 215 North 19th Street from the same period were for Richmond’s Jewish immigrants. All of these buildings have been adaptively reused for commercial and residential purposes.
Richmond’s transportation network further helped to develop Shockoe Valley as a warehouse and distribution area early in the 20th century. Two freight depots in the district: the Chesapeake and Ohio at 18th and Marshall Streets from around 1880, and the Seaboard Airline Depot from around 1919 at 15th and Franklin Streets. The Richmond Cold Storage complex in the 200 Block of North 18th, c. 1910, and the Virginia Bonded Warehouses Scarborough and Howell designed at 17th and Cary Streets of 1911 were a part of the specialized warehousing developed during this period. Other warehouse buildings from this period are on Oliver Hill Way and North 18th Streets.
The Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District is Richmond’s oldest neighborhood, dating back to the very founding of the city. The many layers of the neighborhood’s history and the varied styles and types of buildings make it one of the most interesting historic districts in Richmond.
Shockoe Valley and Tobacco Row Historic District is roughly bounded by 15th St. to the west, Broad and Franklin Sts. to the north, Pear St. to the east, and Dock St. to the south. The district is an urban neighborhood that is accessible for viewing at any time. Many of the buildings are open to the public. For information on when the farmers’ market is open, visit the 17th Street Farmers Market website. The Poe Museum website has its hours of operation. A number of buildings in the district have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Forest Hill Park
Forest Hill Park is a 105-acre urban park located on the south side of the James River in Richmond amidst the neighborhoods of Forest Hill, Woodland Heights, and Westover Hills. The park contains a dramatic landscape consisting of steep heights, wooded areas, open spaces, former stone quarries, and streams. The area’s dramatic terrain, which slopes towards the James River, is one of the park’s most appealing attributes. Located on the “heights” above the river, the area was once touted for its healthful atmosphere and cooling breezes. In addition to these natural features, the park contains several notable buildings.
During the 19th century, Holden Rhodes, a locally prominent businessman, lawyer, and teacher, owned the land that now makes up the park. Between 1836 and 1843, he constructed his Greek Revival style home, Boscobel, using granite quarried from the land. This 1½-story granite house, now often referred to as the Stone House, continues to be a focal point in the park.
After Rhodes’ death, the land passed through several owners including the Southside Land & Improvement Company, which renamed it Forest Hill Park and began selling off land east and north of the park in the Woodland Heights suburb. By 1890, the Richmond and Manchester Railway Company owned the property, using it as the terminus of the company’s electric streetcar line and constructing an amusement park with rides and other attractions. The company altered the Stone House to house a penny arcade. Accessible by trolley, the park was popular for year-round entertainment with activities such as ice skating, sledding, fishing, and swimming.
By about 1930, the trolley line was no longer in use, and the amusement park closed. In 1932, the Forest Hill Community Library opened and moved into the Stone House. The City of Richmond acquired the parkland in 1934, restored the Stone House using Civil Works Administration funds under the Emergency Relief Administration, and built stone and brick walkways, picnic shelters, and other amenities. Since that time, the park has remained an area of picturesque natural beauty. In 1938, the Forest Hill Garden Club received an award from the National Council of State Garden Clubs for establishing a 10-acre tract in Forest Hill Park as a wildflower preserve and bird sanctuary. The project was enthusiastically described as “the most outstanding piece of civic achievement accomplished by a garden club in the nation.” Today, the park is popular for picnics, walking, running, and mountain biking on a network of trails that connect to the James River Park System. The park is second in size only to Joseph Bryan Park and Byrd Park – the “grand dame” of the Richmond city park system.
Forest Hill Park is located south of the James River between Riverside Dr. and Forest Hill Ave. and 42nd and 34th Sts. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and has hiking and biking trails, picnic shelters, and tennis courts. The Stone House can be reserved for community and civic group meetings open to the public for modest fees. Contact the City of Richmond, Department of Parks and Recreation, Permits and Scheduling Office at 804-636-0761 to reserve a picnic shelter or the Stone House. For further information, visit the Forest Hill Park website.
Manchester Industrial Historic District
Manchester Industrial Historic District is located at the falls of the James River on the south bank. The industrial area of Manchester developed between 1880 and 1949 with a wide variety of high quality masonry buildings, solidly constructed and handsomely detailed. The district is significant for its pattern of uninterrupted commercial and industrial enterprise historically associated with the former independent city of Manchester.
As early as the 1730s, developers, who recognized the commercial potential in the vicinity of the falls, built textile, tobacco, and flour mills, and warehouses along the James River. The Manchester Commons, mill ruins, and segments of the canal and millraces survive as tangible reminders of the progressive industrial development that has characterized the area for more than three centuries. The steady industrial development of Manchester is not surprising given its numerous commercial advantages: easy access to a deep-river port, an abundant supply of raw materials, the early establishment of railroad depots, a continuous influx of immigrants who provided cheap labor, and a growing statewide population that constituted a market for manufactured goods. The Manchester Industrial Historic District also symbolizes Richmond’s effort to industrialize and diversify the region’s agrarian economy in the wake of the devastation the city experienced because of the Civil War. The buildings in the district exemplify Richmond’s emergence as an industrial city of the New South.
Most of the buildings date the period between 1880 to 1949 and are fine examples of commerical and industrial architecture of this period. Visually cohesive in scale and materials, the district's high quality masonry historic buildings reflect a variety of architectural styles. A majority have finely articulated brickwork and distinctive architectural detailing. Styles represented in the area include Art Deco, Beaux Arts Classicism, Commercial, Italianate, Moderne, and Queen Anne. Most buildings have few alterations on their exteriors since the time of their construction.
Built in 1880 for the William G. Green Carriage & Wagon Makers, a business that enjoyed a relatively long-lived prosperity, the oldest surviving building in the district is at 18 West 7th Street. This two-story brick building has a hipped roof, simple wood cornice, segmental arches, and six-over-six wood, double-hung sash windows. The carriage door is filled in with brick, but the attached outhouse remains intact. A faint but legible shadow of the Green Carriage & Wagon advertisement is visible on the west elevation façade.
Organized in 1894, the Southern Railroad was the third
railway system in Richmond. The elegant c. 1919 Queen Anne style
Southern Railroad Depot is at 102 Hull Street. The one-story depot
has fine Flemish bond brickwork with glazed headers, as well as quoins
at the corners, and a splayed tile roof supported by decorative brackets.
Architectural details include corbelled chimneys, three-course brick arches
over windows, stone sills, and unusual sixteen-over-two wood double-hung
sash windows. The primary north elevation has symmetrical entrance
doors separated by the original ticket window. After the depot closed,
the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society became
the building’s owner.
A handsome collection of brick industrial buildings lies in the area bounded
by Hull, Decatur, 2nd and 4th Streets. Constructed for the Crawford
Manufacturing Company, a diversified manufacturer specializing in fabric
novelties, awnings, marine textiles, and automobile seat covers, the buildings
at 17, 27, and 104 East 2nd and 300 Decatur date from between 1915 and
The A. S. Kratz Folding Paper Box Factory at 320 Hull Street from 1915
centers around a vast, single-story manufacturing area bracketed by two
three-story corner blocks containing office space. The company expanded
the building to the south and west as business grew. Additions include
the 1949 shipping and finishing room at the rear of the original warehouse
and a second addition on the west side dating from c. 1955. Today,
the building recalls two distinct moments in the history of Manchester’s
industrial architecture: the early 20th century when companies relied
on a traditional vocabulary of stringcourses and pediments to reflect
their success, and the mid-20th century when sleek lines, machine-made
brick, and fixed-pane aluminum windows placed a fresh emphasis on foresight
and technical innovations.
Many buildings in the district continue to this day to serve industrial
purposes, but a growing number are being adapted for residential uses.
A burgeoning community of artists now is established in the area, renewing
public interest in the historic resources in the neighborhood.
The Manchester Industrial Historic District is adjacent to Highway 301 roughly bounded to the north by the James River, to the east by Stockton and Everett Sts., by McDonough and Perry Sts. to the west, and Commerce Rd. and 7th St. to the south. The district is located across the James River from downtown and is accessible via crossings at 9th and 14th Sts.
Manchester Residential & Commercial Historic District
Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District is on a rise above the south bank of the James River in what was Manchester, a separate city that became a part of Richmond in 1910. The Lee, Mayo, and Manchester Bridges link the district, sometimes referred to as Old Manchester, to Richmond’s central business district. Manchester began as an English settlement called “Rocky Ridge” in the 17th century and in the 18th century became a trading center at the falls of the James River, with Richmond across the river to the north. Tobacco trade was at the center of its development. Manchester incorporated in 1874, becoming the seat of Chesterfield County at the time. Manchester’s historic properties illustrate its growth from a scattered settlement to a thriving port and manufacturing center. The district contains a significant concentration of mid-19th and early-20th century residential and commercial buildings in a variety of styles.
In the early 18th century, Manchester was primarily along the James River and Manchester Canal, an area now within the adjacent Manchester Industrial Historic District. Later, outward development to the south and west brought scattered residential and commercial development, primarily wood frame buildings. More substantial buildings gradually replaced these earlier buildings beginning in the late 19th century. Hull Street, the main east-west thoroughfare, which runs along the southern edge of the district, has primarily commercial and civic buildings. Bainbridge, Porter, and Perry Streets, parallel to and north of Hull Street, are predominantly residential in character with a scattering of historic churches and schools.
The earliest building in the district is the Archibald Freeland House at 1015 Bainbridge Street. Built before 1797, this two-story Georgian-style brick dwelling has a Victorian era porch on the façade that replaced the original two-story porch. The district also contains a number of mid-19th century Greek Revival style buildings. Bainbridge Baptist Church dating from 1857 and remodeled in 1901 is at 1101 Bainbridge Street, the Turner-BaldwinHouse (pre-1859) at 1209 Porter Street, and the John B. Anderson House (pre-1860) at 12-14 East 12th Street. The Anderson House, which stands on the property of the former Farmer’s Tavern demolished c. 1913, is a surviving example of the wood frame buildings that were once more common throughout Manchester.
Most buildings date from after the Civil War from the period between 1866 and 1917. Recovery and reconstruction in the years following the Civil War came slowly. Manchester's working class community consisted of 3,207 white and 1,935 black citizens by 1874, and its population had grown to 9,246 by 1890. Manchester’s mills widely exported the flour they produced. This, in conjunction with the railroad, and shipping and manufacturing industries, helped generate prosperity in the area. The first business directory of Manchester in 1906 documents that whites owned all the boarding houses and black citizens owned all the eating houses and 16 of the grocery businesses, and that three of the 14 physicians were African Americans.
Along Bainbridge, Porter, Perry, and the numbered cross streets residences are the predominant historic building type, with a few scattered schools and churches. The Ingram House from 1876 at 1201 Porter Street is the earliest Italianate style dwelling remaining in the area. Its full-width cast iron front porch is one of only two surviving in the Manchester historic district. The other is another brick Italianate house at 1109 Bainbridge Street that dates from 1886. Examples of the well-represented Queen Anne style include the 1300 block of Bainbridge, the Ligouri House at 1415 Perry Street (with a nearly identical neighbor at 1417 Perry Street), the 1500 block of Perry Street, and the 1100 and 1400 blocks of Porter Street. The Church of the Sacred Heart at 1401 Perry Street, dating from 1901, is a brick 1½-story Renaissance Revival style building that Joseph Hubert McGuire designed.
Hull Street has long been the commercial artery serving Manchester and connecting southside Virginia with Richmond and trade on the James River. Commercial buildings in the Hull Street corridor form a dense urban landscape punctuated by governmental buildings clustered in a block or at a major intersection. In contrast with the earlier wood frame dwellings, the commercial buildings tend to be attached brick buildings in the Italianate, Colonial Revival, and commercial vernacular styles.
Architect D. Wiley Anderson designed The Beattie Block at 1119 to 1125 Hull Street, the earliest commercial building in the district. Even though its storefront is altered, the building still has a stone in the center of the brick Italianate façade inscribed with “The Beattie Block 1887.” Other historic commercial buildings include the Baldwin Building, a brick Italianate department store dating from 1905 at 1209 Hull Street and 1309-1311 Hull Street, a brick building from 1895. This Beaux Arts style building with a metal storefront featuring cast iron Corinthian columns is one of the few of its type in the district.
Banks include the Classical Revival Bank of Commerce and Trusts at 1128 Hull Street from 1921, and the Art Deco American Bank and Trust at 1518 Hull Street from 1930. Built in 1871 and individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Manchester Courthouse dominates the entire 900 block on the south side of Hull Street. Designed by architect Albert West, this one-story brick Colonial Revival building has a Tuscan-style portico with paired columns. The Manchester Post Office, a brick and stone Georgian Revival building built at 1019 Hull Street in 1910 is another significant government building.
The area is currently seeing a surge in redevelopment and rehabilitation of historic buildings, especially along the Hull Street corridor. Plant Zero Art Center at 0 East 4th Street is an anchor.
Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District roughly includes the area bounded by 9th St., McDonough St., Cowardin Ave., and Stockton St., and 1211-17, 1301-1305 and 1418 McDonough St., 310-12 W. 12th St., 309 W. 13th St., and 314 and 400 W. 14th St. Some buildings are open to the public including the Manchester County Courthouse and churches open for services.
Richmond’s Agecroft is a large manor house influenced by the Tudor and early Stuart periods. The estate is important for its architectural splendor and gardens and as a reflection of the social and aesthetic ideals of Virginia’s upper class citizens in the 1920’s. They appreciated Anglo-Saxon heritage and saw themselves as heirs of the landed gentry.
Originally built in Lancashire, England in the late 15th century, Agecroft Hall was for several centuries the dignified home of England's aristocratic Langley and Dauntesey families. At the end of the 19th century, the estate fell into disrepair. The property sold at auction in 1925 to the high bidder, Thomas C. Williams, Jr. of Richmond, who ambitiously had it dismantled, crated, and shipped across the ocean. Between 1926 and 1928, he had the central portion of the originally sprawling building reassembled in Richmond’s west end in the prosperous Windsor Farms neighborhood. Its present-day setting on rolling bluffs above the James River is said to be reminiscent of the original site on Lancashire's Irwell River.
Although not a reconstruction, the grand Tudor Revival house incorporates many of the decorative features and some of the structural elements of the original Agecroft Hall and a stairway from 16th century Warwick Priory, another English house. The building boasts a Great Hall with a large leaded-glass window transported intact from England. The ornately paneled wood interior has carved staircases, a 1610 lantern clock, and paintings and furnishings dating from 1485 to 1660 that include a 1566 portrait of William Dauntesey and a 17th-century painted wood bedstead.
The grounds around Agecroft are as appealing to visitors as the building itself. Noted American landscape architect Charles Gillette designed the site, which embodies both the order and splendor of English gardens. The pond garden at England's Hampton Court Palace provided inspiration for the sunken garden full of blooming annuals. According to Agecroft’s website, “A walk through these gardens feels much like a stroll back in time, with elaborately clipped herbs of the knot garden, a collection of exotic plants once recorded by John Tradescant the Younger, and a living exhibit of medicinal, flavoring and aromatic plants.”
Agecroft is located at 4305 Sulgrave Road in Windsor Farms, a short drive from downtown Richmond with convenient access from Interstates 95 and 64. The house and gardens are open to the public for a fee Tuesday –Saturday 10:00pm to 4:00pm, Sunday 12:30 to 5:00pm (closed on Mondays and national holidays). The admission charge includes an introductory film and guided tour of the museum (garden tours are self-guided). Reduced admission fees are available for seniors, children, and students. Group tours and educational tours may be scheduled by appointment. Call 804-353-4241. Visit the Agecroft Hall and Gardens website for more information.
Boulevard Historic District and Confederate Memorial Chapel for Needy Confederate Women
Boulevard Historic District is a grand avenue that connects
one of Richmond’s largest parks, Byrd Park, on the south, to Broad
Street, a major transportation corridor on the north. In the center
of this historic corridor is the cultural campus the Virginia Museum of
Fine Arts and the Virginia Historical Society. Lining the rest of
the street are mostly town houses and apartments in a variety of architectural
styles dating from 1915 to 1930.
The Sydney subdivision of 1817 provided the initial impetus for the development
of the neighborhood. This large speculative subdivision provided
the layout of the streets and blocks in a large portion of the West End
of Richmond. Sydney became a rural enclave of country homes and
farms. The farms included the large tract of land north of Grove
Avenue that Anthony Robinson and his heirs owned from the 1820’s
to 1879. The Robinson house of 1860, expanded in the 1870s
to the present three stories, remains on the grounds of the Virginia Museum
of Fine Arts. It took nearly 100 years for this area to become a
built out urban neighborhood.
The first real step toward the development of the neighborhood came with
the establishment of Reservoir Park, now Byrd Park, in 1873. By
1890 the designer of the park, City Engineer Wilfred Cutshaw reconfigured
Clover Street as the Boulevard. This broad avenue extended from
the reservoir in the park to West Broad Street providing a grand formal
approach to the park.
In 1884, the Commonwealth of Virginia chartered the Robert E. Lee Camp
# 1, a home for needy Confederate Civil War veterans, and purchased the
Robinson family estate to accommodate this residential facility.
In addition to reusing the Robinson House, the state constructed cabins
for veterans from various southern states. The state demolished
the cabins in the 1930’s, but with the Robinson House, the Confederate
Memorial Chapel of the Lee Camp from 1887 that Marion Dimmock designed
The Boulevard as an urban neighborhood really began to take form with
the building of the Confederate Battle Abbey, now the Center for Virginia
History, which is the home of the Virginia Historical Society. Philadelphia
architects Bisell and Sinkler designed the original portion of this complex,
a temple dating from 1911, as a home for Confederate-themed art and records
of the Southern Confederacy.
Shortly after Battle Abbey's construction, Richmond entered a period of
tremendous growth and development. The neighborhood of the Battle
Abbey became the focus of Richmond developers. The Davis Brothers,
a design and build firm, became the largest and most successful developer
on the Boulevard. The firm created common floor plans for
town houses and large apartment buildings. The fevered pitch of
speculative development by the Davis Brothers and others resulted in the
building out of the neighborhood between 1915 and 1930.
Both apartments and town houses of this era were of brick
and filled nearly the full width of each lot. Because of their density,
only narrow side passages separated the buildings making the sides and
rears of the buildings difficult to see. This provided a rationale
for constructing the sides and rear of each building in an unadorned manner
with plain common brick. The distinctive architecture of each building
came in the ornamental facades in one or a fusion of the following styles:
- Colonial Revival with Flemish bond brickwork and classical details.
- Arts and Crafts with steep-pitched gables, fine brickwork, and half
timbering characteristic of British Arts and Crafts architecture.
- Spanish Eclectic with stucco cladding and tile roofs that evoke the
architecture of the Mediterranean.
The town houses of the Boulevard were generally groupings of architecturally
unified rows of detached side-hall town houses that speculators built.
Each town house typically has a full-width porch deck covered with
either a full width porch, a one-bay entrance porch, or a cantilevered
The typically three story apartment buildings tend to dwarf the town houses
of the street. Massive porches, often with large classical columns,
provided exterior porch rooms for the units fronting the Boulevard. These
buildings represented a new kind of fashionable urban living. Their
distinctive names such as “William Byrd” and “Lakeview”
signified the cache of Boulevard apartment living during that era.
One of the largest apartment developments is the Tuscan Villa, a block-long
Italian influenced courtyard apartments dating from 1920, at 501 to 515
When the Boulevard became an attractive
residential district, houses of worship chose to locate there. Richmond
architect Albert L. West designed the Boulevard Methodist Church at 321
North Boulevard in 1919 with its distinctive Ionic Portico.
The Gothic Revival Grace Baptist Church, now a Jewish synagogue, at North
Boulevard and Grove Avenue, dates from 1923. St. Marks Episcopal
Church, which Noland and Baskervill designed at 20 North Boulevard, is
a grand Colonial Revival with a portico, multi-staged tower, and a spire
in the manner of British Georgian architect James Gibbs.
As the Confederate veterans began to die off, the site of the Robert E.
Lee Camp developed as an institutional campus. The Home for
Needy Confederate Women, a home for the elderly widows and daughters of
Confederate veterans, is an elegant Neoclassical building Merrill Lee
designed in 1932. Located at 301 North Belmont, the building is
now a part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The original section
of the Virginia Museum of fine Arts at the northeast corner of Boulevard
and Grove Avenue dates from 1936 and is an outstanding Colonial Revival
building, with a grand stair hall. The architects were Eggers and Higgins
of New York with Peebles and Ferguson of Norfolk. The last of these
institutional buildings is the international headquarters of the United
Daughters of the Confederacy, a modernist building the Richmond architectural
firm of Ballou and Justice did the plans for in 1955 at 300 North Boulevard.
The Boulevard is an outstanding collection of architecture primarily from
the second and third decades of the 20th century. The district has
distinct entrances on the north and south, an instructional campus in
the center, and a unified array of religious buildings, residences, and
apartments that tie the avenue together into a unified harmonious landscape.
The Boulevard Historic District is located at 10—300 S. Boulevard and 10—800 N. Boulevard between Idlewood Ave. on the south and W. Broad St. on the north. It is about two miles west of downtown Richmond in the West End and is accessible by the Boulevard exits of the Downtown Expressway and Interstates 64 and 95. The individually National Register listed Confederate Memorial Chapel and Home for Needy Confederate Women are located at 2900 Grove Ave. and 301 N. Sheppard St. respectively.
Well-known American architect John Russell Pope designed the Branch House in 1916 as a winter residence for John Kerr Branch, a wealthy financier from a distinguished Virginia family. Pope also designed Broad Street Station, now Richmond's Science Museum, as well as the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Branch House is the only property individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places on Monument Avenue, which is a prestigious National Historic Landmark district. Completed in 1919, the mansion is one of the earliest surviving examples of Tudor Revival architecture in Virginia and the only house designed by John Russell Pope in this style that still has its historic interior intact. Pope’s partner, Otto R. Eggers, helped design the house. The home contains a sprawling 27,000 square feet of space, dispersed over 11 discrete levels (some only partial), and its timeless exterior belies an underlying construction that was undeniably modern with elements such as fireproof concrete floors.
When he had the house built, Branch was a partner in the investment firm Thomas Branch and Company, president of the Merchants National Bank, and director of both the Petersburg Savings Insurance and Continental Insurance companies. He was an avid collector and intended his Richmond house to be an exhibition space for his collection of Italian Renaissance objects. Its imposing size and Tudor Revival style provided an appropriately impressive setting for his collection of furniture, woodwork, tapestries, textiles, and even armor. Branch’s choice of style was in accord with social and aesthetic preferences of wealthy Virginians of English descent during the first decades of the 20th century.
Notable features of the house include its surrounding brick privacy wall, the weathered brick and sandstone exterior, leaded windows, and interior ceilings with decorative plaster molding. The design incorporated an original Italian door and carved wood gallery screen from England, both dating to the Renaissance and part of Branch’s collection. The property remained in the Branch family until the 1950s, when the family bequeathed it to the United Givers Fund, a precursor to United Way. In 1982, the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company bought it to use for its Richmond office. In that same year, the new owner donated a preservation easement to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
In 2003 after a period of sporadic use and neglect, the Virginia Center for Architecture acquired the house. Following two years of substantial rehabilitation, the Center opened in 2005, making the Branch House accessible to the public for the first time ever as one of the country's few architecture museums. Designed to house Branch’s collection of art and antiquities, the rooms on the ground floor of the building are of a scale well suited for use as a gallery space. Exhibitions are displayed in two large rooms – a long gallery hall along the northern wall of the house and, behind that, a “great hall”, which was the former living room. In addition to these two primary gallery spaces, the ground floor of the building houses a wonderful museum shop. A smaller room originally used as a chapel may eventually house a permanent exhibit on Monument Avenue.
The Branch House is located at 2501 Monument Ave. and is now the Virginia Center for Architecture museum. It is accessible to the public free of charge Monday-Friday 10:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Call 804-644-3041 for information or visit the website. The Branch House has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey as part of the 2500 Block on Monument Avenue.
Broad Street Station
The only railroad station distinguished American architect John Russell Pope ever designed, this Neoclassical masterpiece served the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad lines from its completion in 1919 until 1975. The former Broad Street Station now serves as the Science Museum of Virginia, which recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation that retained the bulk of the building’s historic character. The history of Broad Street Station goes as far back as 1904, when RF&P bought the old fairgrounds at Broad and Davis Streets. The site was once the location of Civil War military encampments, hosted the annual state fair, and was home to ballparks for some of the country's first professional baseball teams. The railroad company first developed the site as the Hermitage Country Club, to encourage leisurely Richmonders to take the train on excursions out to what was then the western edge of the city.
As Richmond grew, RF&P hoped to convert the old fairground property into a fashionable residential neighborhood akin to the then-new Fan District that was developing on the other side of Broad Street. The scheme for residential development never came to pass. In 1913, RF&P and the Richmond and Petersburg Railway (R &P), which cooperatively shared connecting rail lines, held an international competition for the design of a new "Union" Station. Later that year, they selected New York architect John Russell Pope as the designer. Pope, one of the most prominent architects of his time, had designed many government buildings, monuments, and private homes. Although he had never designed a commercial building before, his Neoclassical design for the new station made an impression. Pope’s legendary work includes the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as the one-of-a-kind Branch House in Richmond.
Groundbreaking for the project began on January 6, 1917. Scheduled to take 18 months and projected to cost just over $1 million, the project suffered from a lack of skilled workers and increases in material prices due to World War I. After alteration and simplification of the plans, Union Station opened six months late and almost $2 million over budget. The first train pulled out at 1:07pm on January 6, 1919, two years to the day after the station's groundbreaking. Locally, the station quickly took on the name Broad Street Station and became increasingly busy over the next 25 years, peaking during World War II with an average of 57 trains a day. Following World War II, passenger rail traffic through Richmond steadily decreased, and slowly the city's railroad stations began to close. In 1958, the remaining Seaboard passenger trains shifted from Main Street Station to Broad Street Station. In 1971, Amtrak took over the remaining passenger trains in Richmond, and in 1972 moved operations to a new station off Staples Mill Road, west of the city. At 4:58 AM on November 15, 1975, the last passenger train rolled out of Broad Street Station.
Broad Street Station is yet another of Richmond’s notable buildings that narrowly averted destruction; in 1976 RF&P sold the property to the State of Virginia, which began to make plans to demolish the station. Rather than spend the money necessary to convert the historic train station into modern office space, the state planned to clear the land and construct new buildings for a satellite office park. Fortunately, efforts to save the building proved effective. In 1976, the state allowed the nascent Science Museum to temporarily move into part of the old station while plans for the new office park were still on the drawing boards. The museum’s presence quickly became permanent, and the state subsequently agreed to build its office park around the building rather than destroy it. On January 6, 1977, Governor Godwin presided over the dedication of the Science Museum's first exhibit gallery, The Discovery Room. The event celebrated the 58th anniversary of the building, the rebirth of Broad Street Station, and the culmination of over 70 years of effort to establish the Science Museum of Virginia. Today, the station’s central copper dome and Doric portico in Indiana limestone continue to provide a prominent and lasting landmark along West Broad Street.
Broad Street Station is located at 2500 W. Broad St. The Science Museum of Virginia, which is housed in the building, includes an IMAX Theater. The museum is open Monday–Saturday, 9:30am to 5:00pm and Sunday, 11:30am to 5:00pm. Call 804-864-1400 or 800-659-1727 or visit the museum's website. An admission fee is charged. The Science Museum is adjacent to the recently-developed Children's Museum of Richmond.
Byrd Park Pump House
The Byrd Park Pump House, also called the New Pump-House, is a wonderfully executed late 19th-century example of the Gothic Revival style, applied to a municipal industrial building whose purpose was to house the Richmond city waterworks. The building, which served as the city’s waterworks from 1883 until 1924, is conveniently situated to draw water from the James River and Kanawha Canal as well as its own smaller canal. The facility pumped water uphill from the canals to the Byrd Park Reservoir, the city’s main water supply. Far from being entirely utilitarian, however, the pump house was also a popular gathering place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pump house is in a scenic location at the Three-Mile Locks of the canal system. The site inspired Colonel Wilfred Emory Cutshaw, Richmond’s City Engineer from 1874 until 1907, to design the building as a social venue as well as a waterworks. He included an open-air dance hall, or pavilion, on the second floor above the equipment room. The pump house had the reputation of being one of the only buildings in the country designed and used as both a public utilities building and a social hall.
The solid and impressive pump house is made of local granite. It has Gothic features such as pointed arches, lancet windows, and steep gables. The high level of craftsmanship and refinement of the design make the pump house a fine example of the Gothic Revival style and belie its primary purpose as a municipal water-pumping facility.
Wilfred Emory Cutshaw, who oversaw the building's design and construction, was a grand figure in the development of Richmond. During his 34-year tenure as City Engineer, Cutshaw's endeavors included roads, sidewalks, schools, armories, parks, markets, and the construction of Old City Hall, one of the city’s most magnificent buildings. He was an advocate for tree planting along streets, and oversaw the creation of a tree nursery at the Byrd Park Reservoir. In 1907, a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote that "Cutshaw's greatest ambition was to turn every available foot of space into recreation resorts for the public." Cutshaw received some criticism for the cost that the pump house pavilion added to the city-funded project, but the pavilion would become wildly popular.
During the late 19th century, the pump house pavilion was a favorite destination for parties. Well-dressed Richmonders could board a flat-bottomed boat at Seventh Street and take a leisurely ride up the canal to the pump house and its festive ballroom overlooking the woods and water below. Sadly, the building closed in 1924, and had its machinery sold off for scrap metal before the outbreak of World War II. The city slated the pump house for demolition in the 1950s but sold it to First Presbyterian Church for one dollar instead. The city has regained ownership and is currently looking to rehabilitate the building for use as offices and a headquarters and interpretive center for the James River Park System.
The Byrd Park Pump House (New Pump-House) is located at 1708 Pump House Dr. at the southern tip of Byrd Park next to the remains of the first operating canal system in the country, the James River and Kanawha Canal. The building is not open to the public. For information, call the City of Richmond Parks and Recreation at 804-646-5733. The New Pump-House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
The Byrd Theatre is an outstanding example of the grand movie palaces constructed in Richmond and around the country during the early 20th century. When it opened on Christmas Eve in 1928, the Byrd Theatre was comparable to the famed Paramount and Roxy theatres in New York City. The theatre opened with Waterfront and remained a showcase for major studios such as RKO, Universal, Fox, Disney, Paramount, First National, and Warner Brothers. While the limited backstage area would not support stage productions, major film stars appeared on stage to celebrate the Richmond premiers of their pictures.
Significant not only for its role in the history of the motion picture industry, the theatre is also an architectural gem. Richmond’s Fred Bishop was the architect and contractor for the million dollar building that follows the Renaissance Revival style. The Brouet Studios of New York did the decoration and artwork. Highly decorative terra cotta ornamentation dresses up the smooth façade and is evidence of the popular extravagance of the 1920s. The plain but impressive box office is black Italian marble, a material also used in framing the main entrance. The numerous plate glass doors lining the front of the building have frames of brass.
The interior of the Byrd Theatre is arguably more impressive than its exterior. The ceiling of the main lobby is 25 feet high, vaulted, and heavy with gold-leaf plaster decoration. A large crystal chandelier sheds light on the walls that have veined marble covering them half way to the ceiling. Three hand-painted murals, which the Brounet Studios executed, line one wall, while the other three sides open onto a mezzanine lounge heavily decorated with gold-leaf plaster, crystal chandeliers, wall brackets, and solid bronze handrails.
The auditorium recalls an Italian opera house in the elegant and flamboyant Rococo style, expressed in a superabundance of marble, crystal, gold leaf, crimson velvet, and elaborate plaster decorations. The 1,396-seat room is spacious, yet retains a feeling of intimacy and elegance. A two-ton Czechoslovakian chandelier with 4,000 hand-cut crystals hangs from the central dome. Another eight smaller chandeliers provide light throughout the auditorium. Six hand-painted murals line the sidewalls and niches, and large murals flank each side of the stage, forming a background to the opera-style boxes that display a grand piano and harp.
The Byrd Theatre has continuously operated seven days a week, 365 days a year since its grand opening in 1928. The “Mighty Wurlitzer,” the theatre’s historic organ, is played every Saturday night for the enjoyment of theater patrons. The theatre has a full schedule of second-run movies and is home to special events such as the Virginia Commonwealth University film festival. The Byrd Theatre Foundation recently purchased the theatre and is planning to restore the interior and exterior.
The Byrd Theatre is located at 2908 W. Cary St., right in the heart of Carytown. Easily accessible from highway 195, the theatre has two film showings every night and runs matinees on the weekend. Tickets for second-run showings are available for only $1.99. For additional information, visit the Byrd Theatre website.
Carver Residential and Industrial Historic Districts
Settled as a working-class neighborhood in the 1840s and '50s, the Carver Residential Historic District sometimes went by the name of Sheep Hill. Located to the northwest of Richmond’s central business district, the area remained largely undeveloped until the mid-19th century, which saw the construction of modest brick dwellings for small shop owners, tradesmen, and their families. The residents of Carver were reputed to be among the city's hardest-working skilled laborers, and the neighborhood gave rise to many of Richmond's most successful industrial businesses, which supplied much of the millwork and bricks that built Victorian Richmond. Blue collar Jewish and German tradesmen first settled Carver, which became a thriving African American community by the turn of the 20th century.
The creation of the Richmond Turnpike (later Broad Street) in 1804 opened the western hinterlands of the city for suburban development. Prior to that time, a single family, the Buchanans, held the property that today comprises the Carver district. Buchanan’s Spring cut a deep gully through the heart of the area as it flowed north toward Bacon Quarter Branch. In 1810, Parson John Buchanan began to subdivide and sell off the 500-acre estate centered around his home, Gielston, which stood near the 1000 block of present-day West Broad Street. Although the house disappeared in the second half of the 19th century, the name Buchanan’s Spring persisted. The spring provided water for a brewery near the property. By 1867, it was the Eagle Brewery, which became the Home Brewing Company in 1897, makers of Richbrau beer. The old Richbrau Brewery building still stands at 1201 West Clay Street.
Carver’s 19th century houses were mostly attached frame or brick buildings in the Italianate style, with storefront buildings located at or near street corners. Detached frame dwellings, brick row and double houses, and a few tenements date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The dwellings are generally spaced close together, with small front and side yards on narrow parcels running from the street front to a rear alley– a pattern that is common throughout many of Richmond’s older historic neighborhoods. Carver contains examples of Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne style buildings, although many are vernacular because of the use of traditional building forms and restrained ornamentation. Some of Carver’s notable nonresidential buildings include the Bethany Baptist Church at 900 Catherine Street, Moore Street Baptist Church at 1408 West Leigh Street, and the Maggie Walker Governor's School at 1000 North Lombardy Street.
The Carver Industrial Historic District lies at the western end of Carver in a 6½-block, predominantly industrial area that developed between 1890 and 1930 along the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad. This was a period of rapid economic growth in the city, a time when the railroad was the dominant means of transporting goods to and from Richmond. The district contains a number of skillfully crafted and finely detailed brick buildings representing a variety of architectural styles including the Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Romanesque, Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance, and Art Deco.
Unlike the early industrial development in the eastern part of the neighborhood, these industrial buildings were large, often three to four stories in height covering as much as half a block. The scale, materials, and details for the industrial buildings appear to follow the precedent of several large brick buildings constructed by the RF&P Railroad. All of the buildings are brick and display a wide variety of intricate brickwork. Other than those constructed by the railroad, the largest industrial buildings were part of the c. 1891 complex of the Peter Stumpf Brewing Company, which also owned and operated the Home Brewery located in the Carver Residential Historic District. The offices of the Peter Stumpf Brewing Company were at 1125 West Clay Street in a Second Empire-inspired brick building with a false mansard roof, twin projecting bays, and rough-hewn stone windowsills and lintels. The decorative brickwork on this building is typical of that found throughout the district.
Carver’s industrial sector was home to a wide range of businesses including the Baughman Stationery Company, the Consumers Ice Company, the American Tobacco Company, the Eagle Paper Company, the Pin Money Pickles Company, the Virginia Railroad and Power Company, Export Leaf Tobacco Company, Cusson May & Co., Haines Jones & Cadbury Co., and the Saunders Oil Company. The National Park Service listed both of the Carver Historic Districts in the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, and the area has received many benefits from the incentives offered by the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credit programs.
Carver Residential Historic District is located in the 700-1500 blocks of W. Leigh, 700-1400 blocks of W. Catherine, Clay, and Marshall Sts., and 909-1011 W. Marshall St. Carver Industrial District is roughly bounded by Harrison St. on the east, W. Marshall St. on the south, N. Lombardy St. on the west, and W. Leigh and W. Clay Sts. on the north. The districts are adjacent to Virginia Commonwealth University. The districts include private homes and buildings with commercial and light industrial/ manufacturing uses. Visit Richmond’s Neighborhoods in Bloom website for Carver for more information.
Fan Area Historic District
The Fan Area Historic District is a large late 19th and early 20th-century residential neighborhood west of Richmond’s downtown commercial district. The neighborhood is unquestionably one of the city’s greatest cultural and architectural assets. Within its boundaries lies a rich, cohesive collection of historic buildings in a variety of architectural styles such as Italianate, Richardsonian Romaneque, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Art Deco. The district developed largely from c. 1890 to c. 1930, a period of general economic prosperity for the City of Richmond and one of gradual westward expansion from its commercial center.
The Fan has its roots in the Harvie family estate. The family subdivided part of its estate into streets and lots in 1817 naming an area to the north of Spring Street Sidney and an area to the south Belvidere. Little in the way of development occurred in the first half of the 19th century, and the neighborhood remained an unincorporated rural enclave. The Sidney stood at an angle to the original city grid. Today, the angling of certain city streets on the east and west sides of Belvidere Street near Monroe Park illustrates that original plan. Most of the Fan area now follows a strict grid pattern of linear streets and square blocks.
The name of the district refers to the way in which certain streets radiate or “fan” westward from Monroe Park. Several of these streets originated as 18th and 19th-century turnpikes or trade routes leading westward from Richmond, like Scuffletown Road (now Park Avenue), the Westham Turnpike (now Cary Street), and the Richmond Turnpike (now Broad Street). These roads later became part of the grid pattern of blocks and streets extending west, as development of the area increased after 1900.
Architecturally, most buildings in the district are brick row houses and semidetached or detached town houses, usually 2½ stories in height with a porch or stoop fronting the sidewalk. The historic density averages 12 houses per block, creating a rhythmic streetscape that is rarely broken by modern intrusions. The playful irregularity of rooflines, turrets, dormers, bay windows, cornices, projecting porches, and recessed entrances of the houses adds to the Fan's unique visual interest and charm. Guided by a deliberate plan of development with many buildings designed by the same architects or built by the same contractors, the Fan is remarkably cohesive.
Most of the houses date from between c. 1900 and c. 1915, a period of economic prosperity in Richmond, when building contractors and real estate developers actively promoted the construction and sale of whole blocks of well-designed and fashionable residences for Richmond’s growing population. By the early 1920s, the area had many of the physical characteristics of the inner city neighborhood it still has today: a streetscape often characterized by repetition in scale, mass, height, building material, and ornamentation, with seemingly endless blocks of brick town houses and row houses.
Originally containing predominantly middle-class houses, the Fan quickly became a desirable place to live, remaining so until World War II. The area thrives again today with many restaurants, corner stores, small businesses, and churches interspersed throughout the dense tree-lined residential neighborhood.
Two antebellum houses in the district individually are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: the 1857 John Whitworth House, a frame house at 2221 West Main Street and on the same block at 2226 West Main Street, the 1859 William W. Morien House. Also individually listed is the Hospital of St. Sophia, Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor at 1401 Floyd Avenue. It initially was a brick house in the 1830s but became a larger Italianate and Second Empire building between c. 1880 and c. 1900. The building is now the Warsaw Condominiums. Another individually designated building is the former Stonewall Jackson School, dating from between 1886 and 1887, at 1520 West Main Street. This two-story brick building is an excellent example of the Victorian Italianate style. Sacred Heart School at 1122 Floyd Avenue is illustrative of the same style. The district includes two early 20th-century schools, the William Fox School at 2300 Hanover Avenue and the Binford School, a fine example of Tudor/Gothic Revival architecture, at 1701 Floyd Avenue.
During the c. 1890 to c. 1910 period when the Queen Anne style emerged as the most fashionable and popular architectural style in America, architect-contractors designed and built entire blocks of buildings in this style along the principal streets in the district. Attractive to members of the middle class and conveniently located in proximity to Richmond’s new electric trolley system, these row houses offered an eclectic range of architectural diversity. The impressive Old Dominion Row in the 1500 block of Grove Avenue contains 12 two-story brick row houses with alternating turrets, towers, gables, and porches with decorative woodwork. Built by the Old Dominion Building and Loan Association in 1895 and attributed to architects B.W. Poindexter and C.K. Bryant, the row was an ambitious construction project for the 1890s.
In the Fan area, as elsewhere in the city, a new architectural style, the Colonial Revival, emerged as the preference of builders and clients in the early 20th century. This style became popular because of renewed interest in the colonial American past. Davis Brothers Inc. built the three nearly identical Colonial Revival houses at 1903, 1905, and 1909 Stuart Avenue. Although the overwhelming majority of its buildings are residential, the Fan contains several excellent examples of late 19th and early 20th-century commercial architecture. Mostly located along the commercial corridors–West Main, North Lombardy, North Robinson, and Strawberry Streets–these buildings served the commercial needs of area residents. Most continue to operate as small businesses. Some of the oldest surviving commercial buildings retaining their original storefronts and upper façade treatments are at 1203, 1301, 1303, 1307, 1502, and 2215 West Main Street, and 6 North Robinson Street.
The Fan Area Historic District is located roughly between Park Ave. on the north, W. Main St. on the south, N. Harrison St. on the east, and Boulevard on the west. The district is accessible by vehicle or on foot, and some buildings other than private residences are open to the public.
Maggie L. Walker High School
Maggie L. Walker High School has played an important role in the African American community and in secondary education in Richmond. Partially funded by Roosevelt’s Administration of Public Works, Maggie Walker was the first vocational high school built for the city’s black youth, the only high school named for a Richmonder, and the first school in Richmond to have an African American principal and faculty. The school is also a significant work of architecture.
Throughout much of the period of segregated public education, Richmond had only one high school to serve African Americans, Armstrong High School. The 1920s and 1930s were a period of rapid growth for the city’s population, and the Richmond Public School System responded by building new school facilities. One of these was the Maggie L. Walker High School.
A series of events in the 1930s prompted the creation of the new high school. In 1931, Hartshorn College, an institution of higher learning for African American women, merged with Virginia Union University. A marker on the school grounds notes this early history. The relocation of Hartshorn’s students and faculty made the 6½-acre campus available for purchase by the Richmond Public School System. In 1934, the great Richmond African American leader Maggie Lena Walker died. The school system, seeking to provide a badly needed second high school for African Americans and a memorial for Walker, purchased the Hartshorn campus in 1937.
The School Board commissioned the prominent Richmond firm of Carneal, Johnston, and Wright to design the new Art Deco style high school. Much of the funding for the school came from the Federal Administration of Public Works. In 1938, the city completed construction and opened the new school, which offered vocational training for Richmond’s black youth. Despite the fact that Maggie Walker was a segregated school for African Americans built during the “Jim Crow” era, it was a very well designed facility.
The school is three stories with projecting wings, monumentally located on Lombardy Street. The original footprint of the building consisted of two Y’s joined at the base. The gymnasium and auditorium are on the west side of the building. Carneal and Johnston designed the three-story symmetrical wings at the north and south ends of the building and one story additions on either side of the auditorium that were part of a 1963 expansion of the high school.
Adorned with stylish Art Deco ornamentation, the building has a facing of dark red brick, dark green tile inlays, and exposed concrete. The central bays of the entry façade, the parapet of the building, and many of the windowsills are of limestone. The structure of the building is made of poured concrete, and the fenestration consists of groupings of steel windows.
Maggie L. Walker High School was an exclusively African American school until the Civil Rights era. It continued as a high school after the desegregation of public education in Richmond in 1964. Because of the slow pace of integration and the school’s location in a neighborhood of African Americans, most of its students continued to be African American until 1979, when it ceased operating as a comprehensive high school. In 2002, after a major renovation, the building became the home of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, a regional school for gifted children.
Maggie L. Walker High School is located at 1000 N. Lombardy St. The school has restricted access. To arrange a visit, call 804-354-6800. For information about the school, see the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies website.
Maymont, a 100-acre public park adjacent to the James River, was once the estate of Major James H. Dooley and his wife, Sallie May. Dooley, a wealthy industrialist and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, commissioned Edgerton Stewart Rogers to design an elaborate mansion for the couple. Constructed in 1893, the main house was soon joined by several outbuildings, all of which still stand today. As an avid horticulturist, Mrs. Dooley oversaw care and the development of the gardens. The estate landscape, including formal Japanese and Italian gardens, and other original features, is historically significant. The original buildings and gardens remain unaltered since the death of the Dooleys in the 1920s.
The restored 12,000 square foot mansion combines both Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque stylistic elements. The three-story building of broken course sandstone has narrow windows with stained glass “eyebrows.” The rough stone, circular and polygonal corner towers and the one-story porch on the western façade convey the strength of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The southern façade includes a porte-cochere leading to a front hall lighted by a large Tiffany stained-glass window.
The first floor of the interior of the house has a spacious entrance hall, dining room and adjacent butler’s pantry, two drawing rooms, and several small reception rooms. Lavish furnishings that the Dooley family owned decorate the rooms. The recently restored basement floor of the mansion includes servants’ quarters, a kitchen, a wine cellar, pantries, and other work rooms. The restored second floor includes bedrooms, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and the morning room. The family had a large household staff, nearly all African Americans. Their work and that of 22 grounds workers was essential to running the large estate.
Noland and Baskervill designed the carriage house, a three-storied stone barn, the water tower, and other outbuildings, most dating from the early 20th century. The grounds of the estate were landscaped as informal parkland, as pastoral scenes were highly popular at the time. Two formal gardens lie just south of the mansion. Noland and Baskervill designed the Italian parterre garden. Completed in 1910, the Italian garden features a columned pergola and an elaborate cascade surrounded by a serpentine stone staircase. The ease and flow of the Japanese garden further south on the grounds contrasts starkly with the rigid formality of the Italian garden. Designed and executed by Japanese master gardener, Muto, the Japanese garden includes waterways, arched stone bridges, and ornamental pavillions.
Major and Mrs. Dooley died in the 1920s bequeathing the house and grounds at Maymont to the City of Richmond for use as a public park and museum. Outdoor animal exhibits and an elaborate nature center, completed in 1999, have become popular additions to the grounds. Maymont continues to be treasured by Richmond residents as one of the city’s most valuable environmental and cultural resources.
Maymont is located in the city’s near west end, about two miles from downtown Richmond. Maymont House museum and gardens are accessible from the Hampton Street entrance at 1700 Hampton St. The entrance at the corner of Spottswood Rd. and Shirley Ln. provides easy access to the Children’s Farm and other wildlife exhibits. The Robins Nature and Visitor Center is located at 2201 Shields Lake Dr. bordering Byrd Park.
The visitor center, grounds, and wildlife exhibits are open daily, 10:00am to 5:00pm, and several of the entrances to the park are open until 7:00pm, weather permitting. Maymont House Museum and the Nature Center are open Tuesday-Sunday 12:00pm to 5:00pm. Entrance into Maymont is free, but a suggested donation of $5 per person is encouraged. For more information, visit the Maymont website.
Monroe Park Historic District
Monroe Park Historic District is an outstanding collection of monumental religious, institutional, and apartment buildings surrounding one of the oldest municipal parks in the United States. The neighborhood includes significant streetscapes and an important and unique urban park. The district marks the beginning of the Fan neighborhood and the diverging street patterns that inspired the name of this area. Franklin Street, running southeast to northwest, follows the axis of streets in downtown Richmond laid out in 1780, and the streets south and west of Monroe Park follow the east-west axis of the historic Sidney subdivision planned in 1817. These diverging street patterns created the unusual shape of Monroe Park, a five-sided polygon.
Monroe Park, originally known as Western Square, was in 1851 the first property the city acquired for a system of municipal public squares. The Trust for Public Land lists Monroe Park, the oldest municipal park in Richmond, as one of the 100 oldest city parks in the United States. After serving as the state fairgrounds in the 1850s and a military encampment during the Civil War, the City of Richmond developed Monroe Park as a landscaped public square in the 1870s. The formal plan of the park, with its radial arrangement of walks, dates to 1877, and was the design of the Richmond City Engineer’s Office under the direction of Wilfred Emory Cutshaw. The paths connect the seven park entrances to each other and the central fountain plaza, the focal point of the park. A master plan is at present being prepared to encourage a greater diversity of uses of the park and preserve its historic character.
With the extensive planting of trees along the perimeter and all of the walks, the park had 26 species and nearly 320 individual trees by 1904. The walks and trees effectively framed vistas of the landmarks within and surrounding the park. The current cast iron fountain by the J.W. Fiske Company of New York replaced the original granite rockwork fountain around 1900. The 1938 park house replaced a wooden Victorian park house from around 1890. Four monuments in the park honor Richmond notables William Wickham and Joseph Bryan, the Spanish American War, and World War II veterans.
After the city's annexation of the area west of Belvidere Street in 1867, the Monroe Park neighborhood became one of the most fashionable residential enclaves in Richmond. Surviving late 19th and early 20th-century dwellings reflect the high-quality residences in Richmond’s west end. Remaining residential enclaves sit along South Cathedral Place, at the northwest corner of Laurel Street and Cathedral Place, and at Belvidere and West Franklin Streets. One of most interesting groups of buildings is the Second Empire style row in the 800 Block of South Cathedral Place. In the early 20th century, religious, institutional, and high-rise buildings would literally overshadow the earlier residential architecture of the district.
The Monroe Park neighborhood has two good examples of early steel frame high-rise apartment buildings from the first decades of the 20th century. The Monroe Terrace Apartments building (now Virginia Commonwealth University’s Johnson Hall) is at 26 North Laurel Street. Alfred Bossom designed this Jacobean Revival high-rise apartment building overlooking Monroe Park, which dates from 1923. Prestwould, another Bossom high-rise built in 1923, is at 610 W. Franklin Street. This dark brick castellated courtyard building has slate gable roofs.
The attractive setting prompted construction of some of the finest religious architecture in Richmond. The oldest house of worship, Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 8 North Laurel Street, is an 1870 building expanded in 1895. Its façade of random ashlar granite from a local quarry has three lancet windows set in a gable flanked by a tower reduced in size by a tornado in the 1950’s.
Constructed between 1903 and 1906, the individually listed Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is another monumental building in Monroe Park. The Richmond Catholic diocese acquired the triangular site of the cathedral in 1867, but it stood vacant until the commissioning of a new cathedral. Virginia-born Wall Street financier Thomas Fortune Ryan provided the funds to build the Italian Renaissance design of architect Joseph H. McGuire. The hexastyle Corinthian portico of the building faces Monroe Park. Two bell towers with tent form roofs with cross finials flank the portico. The plan of the cathedral is a Latin cross topped by a lantern dome. The transepts have large ornamental rose windows. A majestic interior corresponds to the dramatic exterior. The former Bishop’s House and Priest’s House, an attachment to the rear of the building, now serve as offices and meeting spaces for the cathedral. The cathedral is completing a major restoration in recognition of its centennial.
The Landmark Theater at 4 North Laurel Street is the lone monumental public building in the district. Designed by Marcellus Wright Sr. and Charles M. Robinson in 1926 and originally known as the Acca Shrine Mosque, the building is a whimsical example of Moorish Revival architecture, with a large Saracenic arch and tiled faux minarets. The interior is arguably even more lavish than the exterior in its Moorish decoration with extensive tile and polychrome ornaments. The building contains meeting rooms, an Egyptian Revival ballroom in the basement, and a large auditorium. The building served as the headquarters for Virginia’s Shriners, and since its acquisition by the city in 1940 functions as Richmond’s municipal auditorium.
Monroe Park Historic District includes some of the finest examples of apartment and religious architecture in the City of Richmond. Virginia Commonwealth University adaptively reuses many of its residential buildings. The architecture in the district is even more impressive against the backdrop of Monroe Park.
Monroe Park Historic District is roughly bounded by North Belvidere, W. Main, Cherry, Park, Laurel and Franklin Sts. The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is on a triangular plot at the intersection of Laurel, South Cathedral Place (Floyd Ave.) and Cathedral Place. The neighborhood is located at the eastern edge of the Fan District abutting downtown Richmond. Consult the Monroe Park website for additional information about the park. Landmark Theater hosts a variety of events: Broadway, symphony, ballet, children’s theater, lectures, concerts, school commencements, fashion shows and the Richmond Forum. See the Landmark Theater website for a schedule of events. For information and a schedule for services, consult the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart website. The Virginia Commonwealth University Monroe Park Campus website has photographs and the addresses of historic buildings in the district the university uses. The park is free and open to the public.
Monument Avenue Historic District
Monument Avenue Historic District shares the distinction with Jackson Ward of being one of only two National Historic Landmark districts within the City of Richmond. Monument Avenue is the nation’s only grand residential boulevard with monuments of its scale surviving almost unaltered to the present day. The district is nationally significant for its architecture and as an example of city planning. A broad residential tree-lined street extending for some five miles from inner city Richmond westward into Henrico County, the avenue takes its name from the series of monumental statues that mark its major intersections, generally in the center of traffic circles. For many years, the street was Richmond’s ceremonial parade route. Included among those who have journeyed to the Governor’s Mansion along “The Avenue” are Marshall Foch, Commander Richard Evelyn Byrd, Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower, and Queen Elizabeth. The district contains some of the city’s finest residences and continues to be a fashionable neighborhood for Richmond’s elite.
The earliest proposal for creating a broad avenue in Richmond to honor Confederate heroes appears on an 1888 plat showing the subdivision of the Allen Estate west of the present intersection of Franklin and Lombardy Streets. The 1890 unveiling of Jean Antoine Mercie’s great equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee revealed the first major element on this unique memorial street. Afterwards, Monument Avenue seemed the logical place to erect more statues to Civil War heroes. The Lee Monument is the largest and grandest of the statues on Monument Avenue, with a 12-ton, 21’ high bronze statue sitting on a 40’ high granite pedestal designed by French architect Paul Pujot.
No houses appeared on the avenue before 1903, but in 1906 Richmond’s City Council approved the extension of the avenue west to Boulevard from its original terminus at Allison Street. As soon as Monument Avenue’s traffic lanes began to be paved with their distinctive asphalt paving blocks in 1907, the street came to be one of the most fashionable places to live in Richmond. Unveiled in May of 1907, the equestrian monument to James Ewell Brown (“Jeb”) Stuart, by local sculptor Frederick Moynihan, is at Monument Avenue and Lombardy Street. The statue is located in the center of Stuart Circle. Several large historic buildings front the circle, including Stuart Circle Hospital (1914, now condominiums) at 421 Stuart Circle; the Stuart Court apartment building (c. 1924) at 1600 Monument Avenue; First English Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1605 Monument Avenue; and St. John’s United Church of Christ at 503 Stuart Circle. June of 1907 saw the erection of the Jefferson Davis Monument at the intersection of Monument and Davis Avenues. Designed by Richmond architect William C. Noland and sculptor Edward V. Valentine, it features 13 Doric columns representing the 11 southern states that seceded from the Union plus the two states that sent delegates to the Confederate Congress. In October 1919, the Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson statue was unveiled at Monument Avenue and the Boulevard. F. William Sievers designed it as well as the Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument at Monument Avenue and Belmont Street, made public on Armistice Day, November 11, 1929. The sixth and last statue, the Arthur Ashe Statue, stands at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road on the last block of the historic district. The dedication in 1996 of this monument to Richmond’s native humanitarian, scholar, and athlete on Ashe’s birthday, July 10, drew thousands of spectators.
Over a period of some 30 years, Monument Avenue became the site of a splendid series of architecturally dignified town houses and apartment buildings. These reflect the achievements of many prominent architects, such as John Russell Pope, William Lawrence Bottomley, Duncan Lee, D. Wiley Anderson, and Richmond’s Marion J. Dimmock and Baskervill & Lambert. The various housing types along the avenue demonstrate the vitality of urban living and a diversity of taste and means. At the denser eastern end of the district sit closely spaced town houses with five feet or less between buildings. They provide a contrast to the attached row houses predominating in other neighborhoods in the city. Progressing westward, these narrow town houses are interspersed amongst mansions and apartment buildings on wide lots; eventually they give way to more modest mansions and smaller cottages. A significant number of freestanding Colonial Revival mansions date from the 1920s. Where lots were not spacious enough to accommodate these statements of affluence the “two-thirds house” made its debut. As the name implies, these more modest suburban mansions for the growing middle class were a smaller version of their neighbors based on the same plan of a central hall flanked by two rooms.
While both clients and architects seemed to prefer the Colonial Revival style for Monument Avenue, they also experimented with Spanish Colonial, Tudor Revival, French Renaissance, and Italian Renaissance styles. Famous American architect John Russell Pope designed the Branch House (1917), a large Tudor Revival mansion at 2501 Monument Avenue that now houses the Virginia Center for Architecture. Jaquelin P. Taylor designed the atypical but grand 1902 Italian Renaissance-style villa at 2315 Monument for Duncan Lee. Duncan Lee was also responsible for, amongst other homes, a large three-story Mediterranean villa at 2325 Monument. Well-known architect William Lawrence Bottomley did the designs for the Colonial Revival houses at 2301, 2309, 2320, and 2324 Monument Avenue and a Mediterranean-inspired building at 2315. At 2327 Monument Avenue facing the Davis monument stands a commanding 1913 plantation-style home with a two-story portico. Architect Walter D. Blair designed the building six years after the unveiling of the Davis monument. New York architects Carneal and Johnston did the designs for the two houses on the same block, a Tudor Revival mansion at 2312 and the house at 2304, one of the most expensive buildings on the avenue. A local doctor built this house basing it on Mompesson House in Salibury, England. Carneal and Johnston also designed an eclectic 1911 house at 3201 Monument on a triangular lot. This home is known largely for its association with novelist James Branch Cabell, who resided there with his wife Priscilla beginning in 1925.
Monument Avenue also has numerous apartment buildings. Large, architect-designed low-rise apartment houses, frequently with Anglo-Saxon Protestant names such as Stratford Court (2512 Monument Avenue) or Lord Fairfax Apartments (3100 block), proliferated on the avenue in the 1920s and 30s. Many are west of the Boulevard, particularly on the 2900 and 3000 blocks of Monument. Some apartment buildings are not in the more typical Colonial Revival style such as Stuart Circle Hospital, built in 1914 at 421 Stuart Circle and now converted to condominiums. Across the circle at 1600 Monument Avenue stands the Stuart Court apartment building, a c. 1924 high-rise that, at 11 stories, is the tallest building on the avenue and in the entire Fan neighborhood. Originally unpainted red brick, the building was later painted white, accentuating the Mediterranean flavor of its architecture.
Although the district is mostly composed of houses, institutional buildings, primarily churches, visually dominate portions of Monument Avenue. Most often designed in the Gothic or Classical Revival styles, they generally sit on spacious sites and create an architectural impact while buffering the surrounding residential neighborhood. Richmond firm Noland and Baskervill designed St. James Episcopal Church and Parish House at 1205 West Franklin Street. Other examples include First Church of Christ, Scientist at 2201 Monument, St. James Episcopal Church at 1205 West Franklin Street, and First Baptist Church at 2709 Monument (intersection of Monument and Boulevard). Two churches front Stuart Circle: St. John’s United Church of Christ (ca. 1900) at 503 Stuart Circle and First English Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1605 Monument Avenue.
Monument Avenue Historic District encompasses the stretch of “The Avenue” between Stuart Circle in the east and Roseneath Rd. in the west, plus the adjoining 1200 block and 3100-3300 blocks of West Franklin St., and the 1500 block of West Ave. The portion of the Monument Avenue Historic District facing Monument Ave. from the 1200 block of W. Franklin St. to the intersection of Monument and Roseneath Rd. has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Some of the buildings in the district are open to the public. The Branch House at 2501 Monument Avenue houses the Virginia Center for Architecture, which is free (suggested documentation $5) and open to the public Monday-Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 1:00pm to 5:00pm. For information, call 804-644-3041 or visit the Virginia Center for Architecture website. Much of the Monument Avenue Historic District has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.
Scott's Addition Historic District
Scott’s Addition Historic District is one of the larger industrial and commercial districts in Richmond. The district contains brick and frame buildings in a variety of architectural styles, including Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Mission, International Style, and Art Deco. Several skillfully crafted Moderne buildings are reflections of a style rarely seen in Richmond. The area remained largely undeveloped until the early 1900s, when it saw the construction of modest dwellings and businesses. A second wave of development occurred between the 1930s and 1950s with the building of large industrial plants, commercial buildings, and warehouses amongst the existing dwellings. The second phase of development largely defines the types of buildings located at present in the district.
Named for General Winfield Scott, Scott’s Addition was a part of the vast, 600-acre Hermitage estate that Scott inherited in 1818 from his father-in-law, Colonel John Mayo. The portion of land known as Scott’s Addition remained in the family until the late 19th
century. The earliest subdivision plan dating from November of 1890 called for residential development of the area. Subsequent plans followed this trend until the railroad emerged as a driving force in growth of the locality.
Passenger and freight traffic for the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) increased dramatically in the early decades of the 20th century, and by 1916, the city decided to change some of the railroad traffic patterns. The Broad Street Station opened in January 1919, coinciding with the closure of other tracks and crossings in Richmond. The location of the railroad tracks along the north and west sides of Scott’s Addition and the nearby Acca freight yard made the undeveloped land in the area ideal for industrial development. The railroad extended spur lines into the area. Despite excellent rail service, Scott’s Addition was slow to emerge as an industrial area because of the residential nature of the original plats. It was not until the adoption of the 1927 Zoning Ordinance, which designated the area for industrial use, that construction of factories and plants began in the district. The advent of the federal highway system in the 1950s further reinforced industrial and commercial growth in Scott’s Addition.
Scott’s Addition Historic District is still a thriving light industrial and commercial district for the city. One of Scott’s Addition’s greatest assets is its central location and convenient access. Along with its location and access, the size, variety, and affordability of buildings in the area make the district as attractive today for new businesses as it was 50 years ago. Many of the original companies that constructed buildings in the district are still in operation there. The auto repair shops and showrooms that were a staple of the district’s early development are still present. The names have changed, but auto-related businesses still play a vital role in the district.
Today, Scott’s Addition is home to a diverse mix of businesses, including film studios, graphics and marketing companies, advertising groups, and architectural firms. Adaptive reuse and other preservation efforts have made this neighborhood attractive to not only businesses, but to residents as well, and the area has received renewed attention in recent years.
Scott’s Addition Historic District is bounded roughly by The Boulevard to the east, the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad to the north and west, and Cutshaw Ave. to the south. The district is 1.6 miles away from downtown Richmond. For more information, click on the link to the Scott's Addition Business Association website.
Built for Alexander and Virginia Weddell and completed in 1928 just months before the onset of the Great Depression, Virginia House is a fine Tudor-style mansion that incorporates reconstructed components of three separate English houses. The grand estate is on a hillside overlooking the James River in the Windsor Farms area of western Richmond. The eclectic house blends three English Tudor designs in what was for its time a thoroughly modern home complete with seven full baths, central heat, modern kitchen, and commodious closets. Expansive and asymmetrical, the two-story stone and stucco building is truly a composite of several centuries of predominantly English architectural heritage: 12th century Anglo-Norman, 15th century Tudor, 17th century Dutch, and 1940s Classical Revival.
Much of the history of Virginia House goes back more than 400 years and across the Atlantic Ocean. In the late 16th century, a man named Thomas Hawkins bought the property known as the Priory at Warwick and built a Tudor manor house set in a landscaped park. The house enjoyed such esteemed visitors as the newly crowned Elizabeth I. Subsequent owners of the property included Henry Wise, Royal Gardener to Queen Anne, who acquired the house in 1709. In the mid-19th century, the Lloyd banking family purchased the property but sold it in the early 20th century.
Determined to rescue Warwick Priory from destruction, Americans Alexander and Virginia Weddell bought the house at a demolition sale in 1925 after it suffered years of decline and neglect. The Weddell’s plan to dismantle the house and ship its parts to Richmond for reassembly was controversial. The English press reported their purchase sparking a public outcry that the Weddells were pulling down an ancient landmark to reerect it in America. A member of the House of Commons even proposed a bill to invalidate the sale as an act of vandalism, but the bill did not pass. Others appreciated the Weddell’s rescue of the building’s components.
Documentation shows that the company originally hired to demolish the priory thought that most of the building’s stonework would be too fragile to ship to America. Their dubious approach was to set off an explosion in the center of the building and salvage only the masonry that remained intact. Surprisingly, a majority of the stones survived. The Weddells had the stones and more fragile building components packed in boxes with sand to cushion them and shipped them to Richmond.
New York architect Henry Grant Morse designed Virginia House to reflect three English houses. The central bays incorporated two Flemish gables salvaged from the demolition of the Thomas Hawkins’ priory in Warwickshire. The eastern bay is a reconstruction of the gate tower of Wormleighton Manor, ancestral home of the Spencers. The exterior of the west wing of the house is a replica of Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, England, which once belonged to Lawrence Washington, an ancestor George Washington. The Weddells planned for the west wing to serve as a museum for the Virginia Historical Society, keeping in mind that the remainder of the house would one day serve as the Society's headquarters. In 1929, they deeded the house to the Virginia Historical Society, although they were tenants for the rest of their lives. The house remains much as it was when the Weddells lived there.
Noted landscape architect Charles F. Gillette designed the plan for the elaborate landscape garden that cascades behind the house down toward the James River. Conceived by Gillette as a Tudor-style garden, the landscaping scheme complements the romantic, early Anglican character of the manor house.
Virginia House is located at 4301 Sulgrave Rd. It is owned by the Virginia Historical Society and is open to the public as a museum. Tours of the house are offered for a fee Friday-Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm, Sunday 12:30pm to 5:00pm. The last Friday and Saturday tours are at 3:00pm, and the last Sunday tour is at 4:00pm. The gardens and grounds are open Monday-Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm, Sunday 12:30 to 5:00pm. For information, call 804-353-4251 or visit the Virginia Historical Society website.
West of Boulevard Historic District
West of Boulevard Historic District is a 69-block residential neighborhood in the West End of the city. Developed from about 1895 until about 1940, the district conforms to an irregular grid pattern of broad tree-shaded east-west avenues and narrower north-south side streets. Here one of Richmond’s most significant collections of early-20th century architecture conveys a uniformity of scale, materials, and setbacks while reflecting a rich variety of architectural styles of the period. Compact rows of brick row houses, detached town houses, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, three churches, a synagogue, and five schools are in the district. Architectural styles include Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Craftsman, Mediterranean, Tudor Revival, and Art Deco.
Western development in the city halted after the nationwide recession in 1873, but Richmond’s economy soon rebounded. City population rose from 63,600 in 1880 to 81,388 by 1890 creating a demand for more housing. Developers looked west beyond the city limits as a likely area of development. The arrival of the electric streetcar after 1888 allowed for the rapid expansion of residential development in the suburbs surrounding the central city. No streetcar lines extended into the West of the Boulevard area until 1909. In that year, the Virginia Railway and Power Company extended the Broad Street line west to Sheppard Street and then south along Sheppard and Belmont Avenue to West Cary Street. A streetcar line also extended along Floyd Avenue west of Robinson Street.
Before the arrival of the streetcar lines, only small pockets of residences, mostly modest two-story frame dwellings, were in the West of Boulevard Historic District area. After 1900, development along Monument Avenue significantly affected the concurrent development of much of the West of Boulevard neighborhood, and the architecture for the district started to imitate the elegant brick and stone residences along the more prominent avenue. While Monument Avenue boasted upper-class residents who headed large corporations, the West of Boulevard area was home to middle-class individuals with more modest occupations.
The oldest buildings in the district appear to be the three granite-faced dwellings at 2905, 2911, and 2915 Grove Avenue. Built in the late 1890s, these highly original interpretations of the Queen Anne style are among Richmond’s most interesting examples of late Victorian architecture. Each house has a lively outline with angled projections and a corner tower. Nearby, twin brick houses, at 2818 and 2902 Ellwood Avenue, are Queen Anne and Italianate inspired compositions local architect D. Wiley Anderson designed. Built around 1895, each house has projections, gables, a corner pyramidal-roofed tower, modillion cornices, decorative woodwork, and a porch with turned posts.
Another D. Wiley Anderson-designed the dwelling is at 2904 Floyd Avenue. An unusual brick building with a slate mansard roof, decorative brick cornice, and gables flanked by pinnacles, it has Romanesque Revival features such as round-arched windows and a heavy stone-trimmed arched porch. Another Romanesque Revival-style building from 1907 is at 2821 Floyd Avenue.
Notable individual examples of the Colonial Revival style dating from the 1910s include the dwellings at 3319 and 3321 Ellwood; 2815 and 2817 Floyd, local architect Isaac T. Skinner designed; 400 North Sheppard; and two houses at 2909 and 2921 Floyd. An unusually large frame Colonial Revival house is at 303 Grove Avenue. Built in 1914, it features an Ionic-columned porch and an entrance with fanlight and flanking sidelights.
Fine collections of Colonial Revival houses dating from 1913 and 1914 are in the 2800 and 2900 blocks of Ellwood Avenue. Impressive rows of dwellings on both sides of the 500 block of North Sheppard date from 1917 and 1918, and several examples local contractor O. J. Davis built between 1912 and 1914 are in the 3100 block of Floyd. Another fine collection is in the 3100 block of Grove Avenue. Local contractor A. D. Sprinkle constructed four Colonial Revival houses at 3107-3113 Grove in 1912, and Matthias Kayhoe built three (3101-3105) dwellings in the same block the following year. Muhleman & Kayhoe built four similar houses in 1915 at 3101-3107 Stuart Avenue, and four houses with second-story bay windows at 3216-22 Stuart (builder unknown) are from 1917.
City school architect Charles M. Robinson designed two schools in the district. Robert E. Lee Middle School at 3101 Kensington Avenue dates from 1919 and is unique to the city. This Colonial Revival building has a large flat-roof, parapeted central section embellished with engaged Corinthian columns, a modillion and dentil cornice, and tall round-arched windows. Three-story square towers lie at either end of the central section, each topped by a copper dome above a bracketed frieze and dentil cornice. Small two-story wings with grouped windows flank the towers.
Robinson also designed the Albert H. Hill Middle School at 3400 Patterson Avenue. Constructed in 1926, this building is also unique in Richmond. Mediterranean in style, it consists of a three-story, flat-roofed, and parapeted central section skirted by a pantile pent roof supported by metal brackets. This section also contains three double doors, each topped by a fanlight. The central section has flanking two-story wings with rows of windows and projecting end pavilions. Colorful tile and terra cotta wall and parapet decorations adorn both the end pavilions and the central section.
The elegant, largely intact collection of early 20th-century architecture makes the West of Boulevard Historic District a highly prized residential community in Richmond. Its close proximity to renowned museums and unique shopping experiences makes this neighborhood one of the more dynamic parts of town.
West of Boulevard Historic District is generally bounded by Colonial Ave. to the east, W. Grace St. and Cutshaw Ave. to the north, Thompson St. to the west, and Ellwood Ave. to the south and is 1.5 miles west of downtown. Private homes are not open to the public.
Constructed between 1750 and 1753, Wilton is an impressive example of a colonial-era plantation house that once hosted esteemed guests such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Originally located on a 2,000-acre tobacco plantation several miles downriver from Richmond, the large two-story brick house is one of the most significant of the James River plantation mansions. Associated with the Randolphs, a family prominent in colonial Virginia affairs, Wilton is among an important group of mid-18th century houses with architectural designs related by plan or detail. The others include Westover, Elsing Green, and the Nelson House, although Wilton has the distinction of having the only known fully paneled interior in Virginia. Its plan and dimensions are similar to nearby Westover, which dates from approximately 20 years earlier.
The Randolphs played an active role in Virginia life beginning with their arrival and settlement at Turkey Island in present-day Henrico County c. 1645. William Randolph III built Wilton between 1750 and 1753. Randolph’s son Peyton was the second owner. William Randolph III’s cousin, also named Peyton, is the most famous member of the Randolph family. He was a key figure in early Revolutionary politics in Virginia, serving as Speaker of the House of Burgesses from the 1760s until his death in Philadelphia in 1775. He presided over the first informal meeting regarding non-importation agreements in 1767, was chairman of the First Virginia Convention, and was elected president of the First Continental Congress. In the words of one scholar, he was “president of every important Revolutionary assemblage in Virginia.” Peyton Randolph married Lucy Harrison, whose father Benjamin Harrison (occupant of Berkeley Plantation) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
William Randolph’s son Peyton’s daughters inherited the house in 1775 when he died. The Randolph family owned the property until the mid-19th century when Colonel William Carter Knight bought it. The house sat vacant for some time. In 1933, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia moved Wilton to its present site on a bluff overlooking the James River in response to the development of the area surrounding its original location. Contractor and restoration consultant Herbert Claiborne oversaw the move.
The property opened to the public as the Wilton House Museum in 1952. Its largely original interior showcases 200 years of American history with a collection of 18th and 19th-century furnishings, textiles, glass, ceramics, and silver. The museum’s mission statement is “to preserve the circa 1753 historic house, its collections and environs as an example of the late Colonial and early National periods in Virginia by sharing the stories of those who contributed to the history of Wilton Plantation during the first three generations of Wilton Randolphs.”
Wilton is located on the north bank of the James River at 215 S. Wilton Rd. in the West End of Richmond nestled in a residential neighborhood of hills and large homes. The Wilton House Museum is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-4:30, Sunday 1:30pm to 4:30pm. Regular admission is $10, seniors/AAA/students $8, adult group tours $6, student group tours $2.50-$5, and children 6 and under free. For information call 804-282-5936 or visit the Wilton House Museum website.
Richmond National Battlefield
Richmond National Battlefield Park consists of several separate Civil War battlefields east and south of Richmond. Richmond stood as the capital of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. The city also became the industrial and political center of the fledgling nation. Northern generals repeatedly planned their campaigns to threaten Richmond. Consequently, the armies fought battles outside the city in May, June, and July 1862. They returned in May 1864 and remained nearly continuously until April 1865.
Historians view the Seven Days battles in 1862 as one of the most significant campaigns of the entire Civil War. The Union army under General George B. McClellan had pushed within sight of Richmond and threatened to capture the capital. In June, Robert E. Lee ascended to command of the Confederate army and in an audacious series of maneuvers not only lessened McClellan's grip on the city but also actually drove the Northern army 25 miles south. The battles of Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines's Mill, Glendale/Frayser's Farm, and Malvern Hill were the four most severe fights of the Seven Days battles. The national park at Richmond preserves ground at all four sites, including approximately 1000 acres at Malvern Hill.
Two years later General Ulysses Grant brought the Federal army back to the outskirts of Richmond. Lee blocked him at Totopotomoy Creek and then defeated Grant in a famous battle at Cold Harbor in June 1864. Undeterred, Grant positioned his army south of Richmond and threatened the city through the summer months and into the winter of 1864-65. His repeated jabs from that direction produced many battles below the city. When the town of Petersburg fell to Grant's army in April 1865, Confederate authorities abandoned Richmond without a further fight.
Visitors to the Richmond area battlefields have a variety of options and combinations from which to choose. The park's primary visitor center is in the city at the Tredegar Iron Works. An extensive self-guided automobile tour proceeds out of town and through the surviving battlefields. Although separated by public roads, the national park's individual units are connected by signs and a driving tour map. Cold Harbor includes a visitor center that is open daily, with electric battle maps that address not only the 1864 battle there, but also the adjacent Gaines's Mill battlefield from 1862.
Every stop along the driving tour contains modern signs that help visitors understand their surroundings and the events that occurred there in the 1860's. Most sites have walking trails through the battlefields. The southernmost sites in the park connect nicely with the northernmost destinations in Petersburg National Battlefield. The two national parks are best seen in tandem, time permitting.
Richmond National Battlefield Park is located in central Virginia approximately 100 miles south of Washington, D.C. The park encompasses a large area with battlefield sites and visitor centers located in the City of Richmond, and Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield Counties. A driving tour of the battlefields outlined on the park map includes 13 separate sites with four visitor centers along an 80-mile route. A full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park.
Visitors are urged to begin their visit at the National Park Service Civil War Visitor Center at Richmond's Tredegar Iron Works. For further information, call the National Park Service Civil War Visitor Center at 804-771-2145. The park also operates the the Chimborazo Medical Museum and visitor center at 3215 E. Broad St. in the Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District. The Tredegar, Chimborazo, and Cold Harbor visitor centers are open year round daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Visitor centers at Glendale and Fort Harrison are operated seasonally from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The battlefields generally are accessible from dawn until dusk year round. All visitor centers and sites within Richmond National Battlefield Park are free.
Visit the National Park Service Richmond National Battlefield Park website for detailed information about the battlefields and activities in the park. For further details, contact the park's headquarters at 804-226-1981, ext. 23. Visit the National Park Service Petersburg National Battlefield website for information to help plan a visit.
James River Plantations Travel Itinerary
By clicking on these links, you can go directly
to particular sections:
Relevant History, Tourism, and Preservation Websites
Richmond Tourism Information
Things to Do
Places to Eat
Places to Stay
Other Relevant Websites
Links to Websites Pertaining to Places Featured
in the Itinerary
Selected Bibliography for Richmond
of Richmond The official government site for the City of
Richmond provides information on historic preservation and a neighborhood
of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities
The official website for the City of Richmond parks department provides
information on park facilities and the Passport to Fun program as well
of interest, such as the City Hall Observation Deck.
Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau
promotes tourism in the metropolitan Richmond area.
Valentine Richmond History Center maintains a renowned collection
of archives, books, artifacts, textiles, and documents pertaining to Richmond
history and operates the Wickham-Valentine House and the Valentine Sculpture
Richmond provides information on arts, culture, sports, and
festivals and events.
Tourism Corporation The Commonwealth of Virginia’s
official web page for tourism with up to date information on Richmond.
Things to Do
In addition to the numerous historic places to visit described in the
itinerary, Richmond has a plethora of other activities to enrich your
visit. Click on a link below for a specific activity.
Historic Theaters and Performance Venues
and Performance Venues
Theatre Richmond’s landmark movie palace shows
second run movies and weekend midnight movies, and hosts special events.
Theatre/Richmond Center Stage Under construction at
present, Center Stage plans to present a full program is scheduled for
Empire Theatre Theatre IV at the historic Empire
Theatre offers a season of plays for children.
Firehouse Theatre The Firehouse Theatre Project produces
contemporary theater of the United States in an authentic urban space,
the historic former Station House #10 of the Richmond Fire Department.
Landmark Theater Richmond’s landmark
theater, built in 1926 as the Acca Shrine “Mosque,” plays
host to a variety of events: Broadway, symphony, ballet, children’s
theater, lectures, concerts, school commencements, fashion shows, and
the Richmond Forum.
National Theater This historic theater, constructed
in 1923, is being converted to a new music performance space.
Civil War Center This museum in the Tredegar Iron Works
presents the story of the Civil War, its causes, and its legacies from
the viewpoints of Unionists, Confederates, and African Americans.
Agecroft The restored house and grounds of Agecroft
Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives A museum of Richmond’s
Jewish history in the Beth Ahabah Synagogue.
Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
A museum of Virginia’s African American history in the Jackson Ward
Children's Museum of Richmond A modern museum
building dedicated to children’s programming.
Library of Virginia The LVA mounts exhibits on Virginia
history from its collection.
Museum of the Confederacy The White House of the
Confederacy house museum and an adjoining collection and archives building.
Poe Museum Housed in the 18th century Old Stone House,
the museum boasts a collection of Edgar Allan Poe's manuscripts, letters,
first editions, memorabilia, and personal belongings.
Science Museum of Virginia Located in historic Broad
Street Station, the Science Museum houses a wide array of science exhibits
St. John's Church This museum interprets the
history of Richmond's oldest church, St. John's, constructed in 1742.
The Valentine Richmond History Center maintains a
renowned collection of archives, books, artifacts, textiles and documents
pertaining to Richmond history and operates the Wickham-Valentine
House and the Valentine Sculpture Studio.
Virginia Center for Architecture invites the public
to explore the power and importance of architecture through exhibitions,
educational programs, publications, and its stewardship of a historic
Virginia Historical Society A museum dedicated to all aspect
of Virginia's history, located in the 1911 Battle Abbey building.
Virginia Holocaust Museum Virginia’s museum
dedicated to the Jewish Holocaust, housed in a historic tobacco warehouse.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts One of the largest fine
arts museums in the South with a diverse collection.
Virginia State Capitol The Capitol is open for tours. The
Commonwealth of Virginia is developing exhibits on the history of the
Virginia Telephone Museum is maintained by the Richmond
Life Member Club of the Old Dominion Chapter #43, Telecom Pioneers of
America, which collects, stores, processes, and displays items of importance
to the heritage of the telephone.
Virginia House A significant house with collections
and gardens of note.
Wilton is a historic house museum.
City of Richmond Parks and Recreation lists city parks and
Street Farmers Market continues a tradition of public markets
in the Shockoe Valley/Tobacco Row Historic District going back to the
Canal Cruises/Canal Walk The history of the James River and
Kanawha Canal is interpreted with the historic canal walk and cruises
on the lower section of the canal.
Carytown Merchants Association Carytown is one of Richmond’s
most successful older commercial areas.
Discover Richmond is an annual publication of the Richmond
Times-Dispatch, offering a guide to the metro area.
First Fridays/Artwalk First Fridays is a highly successful
arts event in the Broad Street Commercial Historic District and other
portions of downtown Richmond.
Friday Cheers on Brown's Island Friday Cheers
is a summer music series on Brown’s Island in the James River.
River Plantations Travel Itinerary This National Park Service
Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itinerary explores a collection of
33 historic plantations that still overlook the tidal portion of the James
River below the falls in Richmond. Explore the plantations in conjunction
with a visit to Richmond.
Richmond Folk Festival Richmond
completed a successful three-year hosting of the National Folk Festival
and now has a Richmond Folk Festival to supersede the national event.
Richmond Shakespeare Festival Richmond Shakespeare
holds a summer season at Agecroft Hall and a regular season at Second
Richmond Sports Backers is a group that promotes sporting
events in Richmond.
Places to Eat
There are plenty of good places to eat in or near National Register of
Historic Places listings. The following guides can help locate local
in-Rich.com Restaurant Guide includes a search engine
that allows searching by area, location, and types of meals served.
Richmond.com Check out the Eat Beat section for restaurant
reviews and food-related happenings.
Style Weekly/Food Section A good guide to local eating
with a list organized by part of town.
Places to Stay
Richmond has abundant accommodations. Historic hotels and bed and breakfasts
provide a way to get a sense of Richmond’s past and the flavor of
Two of Richmond’s most distinctive lodgings, The
Jefferson Hotel and Linden
Row Inn, are featured in the itinerary. The Jefferson Hotel
is one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic
Hotels of America.
and Breakfast Association of Virginia A statewide guide to
bed and breakfasts that are members of this association.
Richmond is located at the intersections of Interstates 95 and 64 in central
Virginia and can be reached by car, train, plane, or bus.
Richmond International Airport is just east of the city in
Henrico County and is a short drive from the center of Richmond.
Greater Richmond Transit Corporation (GRTC) is the public
transit system in the Richmond area. GRTC provides service to Main
Street Station, Richmond International Airport, and many of the places
included in this travel itinerary. The Trip Planner on the site allows
easy planning of trips on the system.
Main Street Station is individually listed in the
National Register of Historic Places and is located in the Shockoe Valley
area of the city. The station is the Amtrack connection to downtown
Richmond and accessible by walking and public transportation.
Amtrak This is the official Amtrak website. A search
for Richmond will provide information on the main Amtrak station in the
Richmond area, Staples Mill, located in Henrico County outside of Richmond
Greyhound Bus Lines The Greyhound station
is located in the near west end of Richmond at 2910 N. Boulevard near
the intersection of Interstate 64 and Boulevard. Call 804-254-5910 for
This is the Richmond Airport listing for taxis in the Richmond area.
to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (A.C.O.R.N.) An advocate
for the preservation of Richmond’s historic neighborhoods.
Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Preservation
Virginia The Association for the Preservation
of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) is the oldest statewide preservation organization
in the United States.
Civil War Richmond This site is dedicated to Richmond
Civil War History and has many historic images of Richmond.
Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce This site contains
information on the many businesses located in the greater Richmond area,
along with information on promotions and events within the central business
Heritage Documentation Programs in the American Memory: Built
in America Heritage Documentation Programs, National Park
Service, administers HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey), the Federal
Government’s oldest operating preservation program, and companion
programs, HAER (Historic American Engineering Record), HALS (Historic
American Landscapes Survey), and CRGIS (Cultural Resources Geographic
Information Systems). Drawings, maps, photographs, and historical reports
produced through the programs and archived at the Library of Congress
constitute the nation’s largest collection of historical architectural,
engineering, and landscape documentation.
Hotels of America A feature of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation's Heritage Traveler program that provides information on
historic hotels and package tours in the vicinity of this itinerary.
Historic Richmond Foundation This 50+ year old group
is dedicated to preservation advocacy and education throughout Richmond.
James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives,
Virginia Commonwealth University, houses rare books and manuscript collections.
River Plantations Travel Itinerary
Library of Virginia The Commonwealth of Virginia’s
depository for historical documents.
National Historic Landmarks National Historic Landmarks are
nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of
the Interior, because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating
or interpreting the heritage of the United States. They are all listed
in National Register of Historic Places.
National Park Service The main National Park Service
website is the gateway to national parks, information on preserving America’s
history and culture in parks and communities, and a vast amount of other
useful information on National Park Service programs, history and culture,
nature and science, education, and other topics. Visit the National Parks
in the Richmond area: Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site and Richmond
National Battlefield Park, visit the other National Parks in Virginia:
Appalachian National Scenic Trail,
Appomattox Court House National Historical
Park, Arlington House-The Robert
E. Lee Memorial National Memorial, Assateague
Island National Seashore, Blue
Ridge Parkway, Booker T. Washington
National Monument, Cape Henry Memorial,
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National
Historic Trail, Cedar Creek &
Belle Grove National Historical Park, Chesapeake
Bay Gateways Network, Claude Moore
Colonial Farm, Colonial National
Historical Park, Fredericksburg
& Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park,
George Washington Memorial Parkway,
George Washington Birthplace National
Monument, Great Falls Park,
Green Springs National Historic Landmark
District, Historic Jamestowne,
Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove
on the Potomac National Memorial, Maggie
L. Walker National Historic Site, Manassas
National Battlefield Park, Overmountain
Victory National Historic Trail, Petersburg
National Battlefield, Potomac Heritage
National Scenic Trail, Prince William
Forest Park, Richmond National
Battlefield Park, Shenandoah National
Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island
National Memorial, Wolf Trap National
Park for the Performing Arts, and Yorktown
National Park Service Office
of Tourism National Parks have been interwoven with tourism
from their earliest days. This website highlights the ways in which the
National Park Service promotes and supports sustainable,
responsible, informed and managed visitor use through cooperation and
coordination with the tourism industry.
National Register of Historic Places The National
Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official inventory of
historic places worthy of preservation. Districts, sites, buildings, structures,
and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology,
engineering, and culture are included in the National Register, which
is expanded and maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). The National
Register website is the gateway to information on authentic registered
historic places, the benefits of recognition, and how to become involved
in identifying, nominating to the National Register, and protecting these
irreplaceable reminders of our heritage.
National Scenic Byways Program This website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, includes information on state and nationally designated byway routes throughout America based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities. Visit the America’s Byways Colonial Parkway website for more ideas
Trust for Historic Preservation The National Trust for
Historic Preservation is a United States Congress-chartered non-profit
group that preserves historic places, publishes information about preservation,
and operates preservation initiatives. Learn about the programs and membership
in the oldest national nonprofit preservation organization.
Rarely Seen Richmond: a Virginia Commonwealth University Digital
Collection Rarely Seen Richmond: Early twentieth century
Richmond, Virginia as seen through vintage postcards.
Richmond National Register of Historic Places files
Electronic copies of all National Register nominations maintained by the
Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Richmond Then & Now; a photo history Scrolling
down this page allows one to see historic and contemporary images of Richmond.
Teaching with Historic Places Teaching with Historic
Places is a program of the National Park Service that offers a series
of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places and
other resources to help teachers and students use historic places in the
The Valentine Richmond History Center maintains a
renowned collection of archives, books, artifacts, textiles and documents
pertaining to Richmond history and operates the Wickham-Valentine
House and the Valentine Sculpture Studio.
Virginia Department of Historic Resources The State
Historic Preservation Office, whose mission is to foster, encourage, and
support the stewardship of Virginia’s significant historic, architectural,
archaeological, and cultural resources.
Virginia Historical Society The Virginia Historic
Society maintains substantial book, manuscript, and artifact collections
on Virginia History.
to Websites Pertaining to Places Featured in Itinerary
Street Farmers Market
Hall and Gardens
Civil War Center
for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Preservation Virginia, The
John Marshall House
Ahaba Museum and Archives
History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
of the Sacred Heart
United Methodist Church
Church Hill Association
for St. John's Church
of Richmond Cemeteries
of Richmond James River Park System
of Richmond Old and Historic Properties
African Baptist Church
Garden Club of Virginia
Park Residents' Association
Court End Neighborhood
Jackson Ward Association
Marshall Foundation/The John Marshall House
Ginter Recreation Association
L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies
Maggie L. Walker National Historic
of the Confederacy
Zero Art Center
Richmond National Battlefield
Neighborhoods in Bloom
Science Museum of Virginia
Addition Business Association
Views of Negro Enterprises and Residences in Richmond
Paul's Episcopal Church
Valentine Richmond History Center
Center for Architecture Museum
Commonwealth University Monroe Park Campus
Museum of Fine Arts
Virginia State Capitol
Berman, Myron. Richmond's Jewry, 1769-1976 :
Shabbat in Shockoe. Charlottesville: Published for the Jewish
Community Federation of Richmond, 1979.
Bondurant, Agnes M. Poe's Richmond. Richmond: Garrett & Massie,
Brownell, Charles E. et al. The Making of Virginia Architecture.
Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1992.
Calcutt, Rebecca Barbour. Richmond's Wartime Hospitals. Gretna:
Pelican Publishing Co., 2005.
Carneal, Drew St. J. Richmond’s Fan District. Richmond:
The Council of Historic Richmond Foundation, 1996.
Cheek, Richard. Old Richmond Today. Richmond: The Council
of Historic Richmond Foundation, 1988.
City of Richmond Commission of Architectural Review. Old and
Historic District of Richmond, Virginia: Handbook and Design Review Guidelines.
Richmond: City of Richmond Department of Community Development, 2006.
Clinger, David M. The Glories and Ghosts of Monroe Park Richmond,
Virginia: A Sesquicentennial History. Richmond: Dietz Press, 1998.
Chesson, Michael B. Richmond After the War, 1865-1890. Richmond:
Virginia State Library, 1981.
Crumley, Marguerite, and John G. Zehmer. Church Hill: The St. John's
Church Historic District Richmond: The Council of Historic
Richmond Foundation, 1991.
Christian, W. Asbury. Richmond, Her Past and Present. Reprint
Spartanburg: The Reprint Co., 1973; originally published Richmond: 1912.
Davis, Veronica A. Here I Lay My Burdens Down : A History of the Black
Cemeteries of Richmond, Virginia. Richmond: Dietz Press, 2003.
Dementi, Elisabeth, ed. Celebrate Richmond. Richmond: Dietz Press,
Dew, Charles B. Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and
the Tredegar Iron Works. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1999.
Driggs, Sarah Shields, Richard Guy Wilson, and Robert P Winthrop. Richmond's
Monument Avenue. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
Driggs, Sarah Shields and John L. Orrock. Save Outdoor Sculpture!:
A Survey of Sculpture in Virginia. Richmond: Virginia Department
of Historic Resources, 1996.
Dulaney, Paul Summers. The Architecture of Historic Richmond.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976.
Duke, Maurice and Daniel P. Jordan, eds. A Richmond Reader,
1733-1983. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
Furgurson, Ernest B. Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
George, Lynne Ann. An Illustrated History of Forest Hill Park.
Richmond: Friends of Forest Hill Park, 1999.
Green, Bryan Clark, Calder Loth, and William M. S. Rasmussen. Lost
Virginia: Vanished Architecture of the Old Dominion. Charlottesville:
Howell Press, 2001.
Kimball, Fiske. The Capitol of Virginia: A Landmark of American
Architecture. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2002.
Kimball, Gregg D. American City, Southern Place: A Cultural History
of Antebellum Richmond. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.
Kollatz, Harry. True Richmond Stories: Historical Tales from Virginia’s
Capital. Charleston: History Press, 2007.
Lee, Richard M. General Lee's City: An Illustrated Guide to the Historic
Sites of Confederate Richmond. McLean: EPM Publications, 1987.
Little, John Peyton. History of Richmond. Richmond: Dietz Printing
Co., 1933.; Reprint from Southern Literary Messenger, 1851
Longest, George C. Genius in the Garden: Charles F. Gillette
& Landscape Architecture in Virginia. Richmond: Virginia State
Library and Archives, 1992.
Loth, Calder, ed. Virginia Landmarks of Black History: Sites on the
Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995.
Loth, Calder, Ed. The Virginia Landmarks Register. Charlottesville:
University Press of Virginia, 1999.
Tyler-McGraw, Marie. At the Falls: Richmond, Virginia and Its
People. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
McKenney, Carlton Norris. Rails in Richmond. Glendale: Interurban
Michie, Peter S. Richmond, Virginia 1865. [Reprint of 1865
Map] Richmond: Richmond Civil War Centennial Commission, 1965.
Mitchell, Mary H. Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine.
Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1985.
Mordecai, Samuel. Richmond in By-Gone Days. Richmond: Dietz
Press, 1946, Reprint, original Richmond: 1856.
Munford, Robert Beverley, Richmond Homes and Memories. Richmond:
Garrett and Massie, incorporated, c1936.
Pember, Phoebe Yates. A Southern Woman's Story New York: G. W.
Carleston & Co., 1879.
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Richmond, Virginia, 1782-1865. Charlottesville: University Press
of Virginia, 1999.
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White, Ralph R. Seeing the Scars of Slavery in the Natural Environment:
An Interpretive Guide to the Manchester Slave Trail along the James River
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The Richmond Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itinerary was produced by the National Park Service's Heritage Education Services, the City of Richmond, the Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. The Richmond travel itinerary is based primarily on registration information on historic places in the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks collections. These archives are kept at 1201 Eye St., NW, Washington, D.C. and are open to the public. Some of the collection is online. All of the registration forms are also accessible online through the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The Virginia Landmarks Register was another source of information.
The itinerary was conceptualized by Michael C.Yengling, Historic Preservation
Planner with the City of Richmond’s Planning and Preservation Division,
and written mostly by Mr. Yengling and Tyler Potterfield, Architectural
Historian and Senior Planner in the same division. Catherine Easterling,
Intern, now Planner I with the City of Richmond's Preservation and Planning
Division, provided support and editing, as well as writing several of
the entries. With the support of Cynthia MacLeod, National Park
Service Superintendent of Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie
L. Walker National Historic Site, Bob Krick of Richmond National Battlefield
Park wrote or edited the sections of the itinerary that relate to units
of the National Park System. Acting Superintendent Dave Ruth provided advice and support. From the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, State Historic Preservation Officer Kathleen Kilpatrick provided advice and suggested additions and revisions, while Calder Loth,
Senior Architectural Historian, wrote the descriptions of several historic places and Elizabeth Tune of the Department's staff provided additional details. Lesley Howson Bruno, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Valentine Richmond History Center provided the description of the Wickham-Valentine House and editorial revisions for several other sites. Mr. Yengling, Mr. Potterfield, and
Ms. Easterling took most of the contemporary photographs or obtained them
from Historic Richmond Foundation. Richmond National Battlefield
Park and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site also provided photographs, as did the Valentine Richmond History Center and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The majority of historic images, used with permission, are from
the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries digital collection, “Rarely
Seen Richmond: Early twentieth century Richmond, Virginia as seen through
vintage postcards.” Carol Shull, Chief, Heritage Education
Services, National Park Service edited and managed production of the itinerary.
Kathryn Warnes, graduate student at George Washington University’s
School of Business, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management assisted
in editing and making final corrections, and programmed the itinerary. Jaclyn
Wright, graduate student in the American University Public History Program,
also assisted in programming and making final corrections. Hyejung Kwon
designed the computer template for the itineraries as the practicum for
her Masters of Tourism Administration (MTA) at George Washington University’s
School of Business, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The itinerary was produced with the support of the National Park Service's Jon Smith, Assistant Associate Director for Heritage Preservation Services; Bryan Mitchell, Chief, Heritage Preservation Services; Paul Loether, Chief, National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks; and Richard O’Connor, Chief, Historical Documentation Programs. Assistant Associate Director for Historical Documentation Programs, Antoinette Lee provided suggestions on the content. Shannon Davis, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers contractor, assigned to the NPS Battlefield Protection Program under Paul Hawke, and Jeff Joeckel of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks staff provided advice and assistance in the development of the itinerary. John Knoerl, Deidre McCarthy, James Stein, and Matthew Stutts of NPS's Cultural Resources Geographic Information Systems, Historical Documentation Programs under John Knoerl provided training and advice concerning Geographic Information System (GIS) maps used in the itinerary. Amber Young, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers contractor with the NPS Museum Management Program under Lynn Black also provided advice and assistance.
Thank you to John F. Berry, Jr. President and CEO, and Jennifer H. Carnam,
Vice President of Marketing of the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and
Visitors Bureau for their advice on the contents and for supporting and
hosting the itinerary's launch. Thank you also to Rachel O’Dwyer
Flynn, Director of the City of Richmond’s Department of Community
Development; Historic Richmond Foundation, and the William Byrd
Branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities;
the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods; Ryan Ramsey of Richmond
City Watch; Ray Bonis, Special Collections archivist, VCU Libraries; the Library
of Virginia; the City of Richmond Commission of Architectural Review;
Doug Welsh, Project Coordinator for the National Historic Landmark John
Marshall House; Edwin Slipek Jr., architectural critic for Style Weekly;
Megan E. Stagg, Public Relations Specialist, The Museum of the Confederacy; and many others for their ongoing encouragement and support for
the acknowledgement and preservation of Richmond’s cultural and
architectural heritage and in some cases their help in improving the content of the itinerary. Thanks must also go out to the people of
Richmond for sharing their historic places.
Photo Captions for Homepage: The Virginia
State Capitol, Congo Relief of Belgian Building, Broad Street Station,
courtesy of Tyler Potterfield of the City of Richmond Department of Community
Development; Gaines Mill Gun House, courtesy of Richmond National Battlefield
Park; Leigh Street view of Maggie L. Walker House, courtesy of Tyler Potterfield
of the City of Richmond Department of Community Development; Tredegar
Iron Works, courtesy of National Park Service’s Richmond’s
Visitors Center; Monument Avenue, Wickham-Valentine House Garden, and
Belle Isle courtesy of Tyler Potterfield of the City of Richmond Department
of Community Development.