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Lost Architecture - Davis House

Frank Landrum provided the following information about the Davis House and the Davis family. Mr. Landrum is the grandson of Dr. Wray Wythe Davis, owner of the Davis House. According to Mr. Landrum, the Davis family was distantly related to Jefferson Davis.

Vintage photo of Davis House, a Henrico County, Virginia structure that no longer exists.

The Davis House, previously located on W. Davista and Penick Road, was demolished in the spring of 2004. Built around 1912, the house was one of a few structures of that era left in the Dumbarton section of Henrico County. It was a two-story frame house with a commanding front entrance and interesting architectural detail in the exterior trim, including a balustrade framing the upper level. It was originally the home of Dr. Wray Wythe Davis (b. July 30, 1866-d. Feb. 8, 1940) and Mary Hopkins Davis (b. Oct. 31, 1873-d. Feb. 4, 1940). Dr. and Mrs. Davis had four children: James Hopkins Davis, Hugh Wythe Davis (served as a Henrico County Magistrate), Mary Elizabeth (Davis) Landrum, and Wray Wythe Davis.

The late Dr. Wray Davis, dentist and resident of Henrico County, Virginia.

Dr. Wray Wythe Davis was a well-known dentist in Henrico County and his father, Dr. Hugh Wythe Davis was a noted physician that served as a a surgeon in the Confederate hospital service. The father of Dr. Hugh Davis, John Fleming Davis, gave his horse to, according to an eye witness report, one of the last Confederates to cross the Mayo Bridge before Richmond burned.

Davis House pictured on a spring day; this home was a Henrico County, Virginia structure that no longer exists. Side view of Davis House, Henrico County, Virginia structure that no longer exists.

The two top images and the lower left image display the front and side views of the Davis House. The pictures were taken a few years before the house was demolished.

Davis House pictured on a fall day; this home was a Henrico County, Virginia structure that no longer exists. Davis House Outbuilding still survives in Henrico County, Virginia.

Nestled in the middle of very old and towering trees, one of the outbuildings and the foundation of another remain on the property, where it is said that Dr. Davis generated his own electricity. That was quite a luxury for the period of time in which the house was built considering it would have been in a somewhat rural area.

Below is the obituary of Dr. Hugh Wythe Davis, who died Monday, June 29, 1914. Dr. Hugh Wythe Davis was the father of Dr. Wray Wythe Davis, the owner of the now-demolished Davis House described above.

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Hugh Davis, M.D., who was a physician in the Confederacy and had his own practice in Henrico County, Virginia for more than 50 years.

After being in ill health a number of months, Dr. Hugh Wythe Davis about 74 years old; who served with distinction in the Confederate hospital service under Surgeon General Samuel Preston Moore, and who was for more than fifty years, a successful practicing physician, died this morning at 6:15 o'clock in his home, 110 West Grace Street.

The funeral will take place Wednesday morning at 10 o'clock from the home. The service will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Lloyd T. Wilson, pastor of Grace Street Baptist Church and the burial will be in Hollywood.

Dr. Davis married Miss Mary Elizabeth Apperson of New Kent County, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Dr. Norwood in Monumental Church Feb. 15, 1865. She died June 4, 1900. He is survived by five daughters - Mrs. H. Seldon Taylor, Jr., Mrs. W. G. Bragg, Mrs. Eva T. Moore, Miss Susie T. Davis, and Miss Edna S. Davis, and his two sons, Dr. Wray Wythe Davis and John A. Davis.

Dr. Davis was a brother of the late Brigadier-General Wirt Davis, who died last February. He leaves two brothers, Dr. E. S. Davis of Cameron, W. VA. and B. T. Davis of Huntington, W. VA.

The career of Dr. Davis was a most honorable one. He was born in Richmond Sept. 30, 1840, being a son of John F. and Mrs. Delight Thomas Davis. He received his education in the schools here, attending Richmond College and the Medical College of Virginia. He graduated in medicine, March 1, 1861.

Not long after Dr. Davis received his diploma as a physician he enlisted for Confederate hospital service, being a close personal friend of Surgeon-General Samuel Preston Moore and also remained his family physician after the war between the state(s). He rendered extensive field service and was on duty for a while in Richmond College while that institution was used as a hospital.

After the war, Dr. Davis was associated in the practice of his profession with his uncle, Dr. Creed Thomas, a schoolmate of Edgar Allen Poe. Dr. Davis was a trustee of Richmond College, the Baptist Home for Aged Women, deacon of First Baptist Church, member of the Medical examining board of the United States recruiting station, and held other positions. He was for a long time a member of the Medical Society of Virginia, in which he took an active interest. He was regarded as a typical Virginia physician of the old school, a man deeply attached to all that pertained to Confederate history, and a loyal citizen of RICHMOND.

The following is an article that appeared in the Richmond Dispatch newspaper on April 6, 1897. It makes note of John F. Davis, father of Dr. Hugh Wythe Davis and grandfather of Dr. Wray Wythe Davis.

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The Evacuation of Richmond

An Account of it by an Eye-witness

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

During part of the month of February and during March, 1865, the Second Battalion of Virginia Reserves (boys between 16 and 18, and old men between 45 and 50, commanded by the undersigned) were stationed in the city of Richmond on guard duty, having been withdrawn from the lines nearly opposite Fort Harrison, about the 15th of February. On the afternoon of Saturday, the 1st of April, 1865, I went down on a small steamer to "Wilton", the home of my friend, Colonel W. C. Knight, and spent Sunday with him and his family. I expected to return to Richmond early Monday morning. During Sunday all was quiet on the north side of the James river, but away to the south we could hear sounds that indicated a serious engagement. The Colonel and myself walked down nearly opposite Drewry's Bluff, when a steamer - the one I came down on Saturday - passed down loaded, as we thought, with Federal prisoners. As it passed by rapidly we heard from the boat that Richmond was to be evacuated, and that was the last trip the boat would make. As all was so very quiet in our neighborhood, we did not credit this report. About 10 o'clock P.M. Sunday I retired, and before I had fallen asleep the Colonel came to my door, knocked, and informed me that the lines on the north side were being evacuated; that all of his horses and wagons had been just then impressed, and were to be used in moving stores, etc. I was then about nine miles from the city, and my quarters were out in the neighborhood of what was formerly known as Buchanan Spring, so there was nothing for me to do but walk about twelve miles. It was then 11 o'clock at night. I placed in my haversack a small piece of hambone and a loaf of bread, which good Mrs. Knight gave me, little dreaming that I would get nothing more to eat for more than three days.

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Reaching my quarters in the city about 2 o'clock A.M. of the 3rd, my Adjutant Linden Kent, a youth about 18 (who afterwards became a distinguished lawyer in Washington city, and died a few years since), showed me an order from General Ewell, directing all the tobacco warehouses, then full of tobacco, to be burned at a certain signal. He and Capton Herron, of Orange, the ranking officer in my absence (Capton W. T. Early, of Albemarle, and Major James Strange, of Fluvanna, then being absent, sick), had made all the arrangements necessary to carry this order into effect. I directed Captain Herron and Adjutant Kent, so soon as the signal was given, to fire these buildings, then pass over the river on Mayo's bridge, and follow the army. Being dead tired, I threw myself down to rest, fell asleep, and did not waken until the arsenal exploded. This woke me most effectually. I threw my blanket over my shoulder, sword and haversack on one side, and canteen, with a little brandy, on the other. I struck out for Mayo's bridge, some one or two miles distant. The streets were quiet and apparently deserted. When I reached Mayo's bridge the small bridge over the canal connecting the basin with the dock was on fire on one side, a burning canal-boat having drifted up against it.

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John Davis.

As I was passing over the bridge a few cavalry videttes passed me, I shall ever believe we were the last Confederates who crossed the bridge, for that had also been fired and was now in flames on one side. As I climbed the slope beyond the bridge, the rising sun was just beginning to peep over the eastern hills. I turned and looked back; the city of Richmond was in flames. From all the windows of the Gailego Mills tongues of flame were bursting out; dense clouds of smoke, sparks, and flames were reaching skyward. Were I a painter, even now, after thirty-two years, I could paint the scene. The sight was awfully grand. I felt the end was nigh. After gazing on this sublime spectacle for a time, I trudged on in pursuit of my command. After proceeding about a mile, I met Mr. Davis, father of Dr. H. Wythe Davis* of your city, and brother-in-law of Colonel Knight, who lived nearly opposite Wilton. He was on horseback, and insisted upon my taking his horse. I declined to do so at first, but he remarked that I had better take him, because if I did not the Yankees certainly would. He had dismounted and tendered me the bridle. I took it, mounted; we shook hands and parted - he to return to his home, and I to follow and overtake my command. About 1 o'clock P.M. I overtook them, and we proceeded together with other commands, things being a good deal mixed.

R.T.W. Duke
Late Lieutenant - Colonel Second Battalion, Virginia Reserves

*The other sons of Mr. John F. Davis are: Colonel Wirt Davis, U.S.A.; B.T. Davis, Huntington, W. VA; Dr. John R. Davis, Moundsville, W. VA, and Dr. E. S. Davis, Cameron, W. VA.

  • (Mr. Landrum is the grandson of Dr. Wray Wythe Davis)
  • (Richmond Dispatch newspaper on April 6, 1897)

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