Henrico County Historical Society
PO Box 90775   Henrico, VA 23273   (804)501-5682   hchsinfo@yahoo.com
Open by appointment only

Henrico County Historical Society's motto, which is Preserving the Past in the Present for the FutureSkipwith Academy in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.Log Cabin in Tuckahoe District, Henrico County, Virginia.Mankin Mansion in Fairfield District, Henrico County, Virginia.Dorey Barn in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.Bethlehem Church in Brookland District, Henrico County, Virginia.



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Past Preservation - All Sites

Cedar Hill and Armour House

The photo below shows the current state of Cedar Hill reflects boarded windows as the result of vandalism.

Cedar Hill in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

In the year 2000, The Henrico County Historical Society deeded Cedar Hill to Henrico County after having acquired it from St. Paul’s Baptist Church whose plans to build a new sanctuary on the original property threatened the historic structure with demolition and it was moved to its present location. Dr. Henry Nelson was instrumental in this preservation effort. (Read about other past preservation projects by Henrico County Historical Society.)

In 2003 the Henrico County Historical Society and the Henrico County Board of Supervisors received an Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC) Award of Merit for efforts to save and preserve Cedar Hill.

One of few surviving 19th century farmhouses in Henrico County, Cedar Hill represents a legacy of history.

During the Civil War, Cedar Hill was owned by the Vaughan family. James D. Vaughan served in the Virginia Militia and the 10th Regiment of the Virginia Cavalry. Along the original Creighton Road (which connected Richmond and Tappahannock) there were a number of troop camps during the Seven Days Battle. In 1862, units of Dershaws Division of the Army of the Confederate States set up camp on the property of Cedar Hill. Produce was consumed from the estate, as well as timber used to build a hospital, cabins, and fortifications. James Vaughan petitioned the Confederate Government for damages totaling $1,102.00 on October 20,1862.

The structure was in a deteriorating state when it was moved. An architect was hired to draft plans for its restoration to reflect the original structures appearance. The exterior features period reconstructed chimneys, weather boarding, beaded trim, louvered shutters, dramatic nine over nine window sashes across the facade, a vernacular front porch done in a simple Greek Revival style, and paint colors were chosen to reflect colors common to the nineteenth century. The restoration thus far has been related to the exterior of the house.

The interior, which has not yet been restored, has an early nineteenth century stairway that features a hand carved fan motif, and an upstairs that features original floor boards, door trim and doors.

An HPAC status report states that there is no funding for the completion of the interior restoration however it is a priority project in the CIP budget (see related article on Capital Improvement Program). The report also states that there may be major structural issues that need to be addressed before finishing the renovation of the house. Architects are moving forward with construction drawings.

Plans for Cedar Hill will eventually be included in the 400 acre Meadowview Park project underway in the Varina District of Henrico County. Also included in this project is the Armour House, pictured below.

Front view of Armour House in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia. Back view of Armour House in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

Archeologists identified two areas of prehistoric Native American occupation in Meadowview Park. In the early 19th century, a country residence of Chief Justice John Marshall stood nearby, known as Chickahominy Farm. Confederate General Robert E. Lee observed the beginnings of the Seven Day’s Battle from the bluff at Meadowview. Edmund Christian built the house at Meadowview in 1915.

Built between 1915 and 1918, the Armour House and Gardens at Meadowview Park are located directly behind Arthur Ashe Elementary School. This Victorian style home is rich in Henrico family history. The surrounding property boasts a scenic walking trail, tennis courts, gardens, a flowing fountain surrounded by arbors with blooming vines, and children’s gardens and play areas.

Available for rental, The Armour House and Gardens are an ideal setting for small gatherings, celebrations, meetings, or retreats. A large shelter facility with a fireplace is also available for rent.

In addition, a variety of classes and events are offered for both children and adults.

  • Publicly owned.
  • (Henrico County)

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Curles Neck

Manor House of Curles Neck, today, in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

Located on New Market Road (Route 5). "The name Curles is derived from the "Curles or meanders in the James River", which defines the broad flat peninsula known as Curles Neck. The property has passed through a number of hands, but the Randolf family, who acquired the land in 1698, had by far the longest tenure. Earlier, from 1674 to his death in 1676, Nathaniel Bacon lived at Curles. Through the years, various names have been applied to different sections of this vast tract, viz., "Raleigh", "Bailey's", "Tillmans", "The Slashes", "Bremo", and "Strawberry Plains."

The property was originally referred to by early settlers as “Longfield”. It is easy to see how the name Longfield originated. It is a noticeably wide expanse of open land along historic route 5 in the Varina District of Henrico County with trees apparent only at either end.

This property is among the most significant properties in Henrico County covering almost four centuries in American history. It is thought that the name Curles derived from the “curles” or meanders of the James River, which defines the broad flat peninsula known as Curles Neck. Researchers have also found the family name of Curle recorded in various grants over a span of one hundred years in the books at the State Land Registry Office.

“Curle’s” with an apostrophe was used on early documents prior to the Civil War, later dropped as in modern usage. A prominent representative of that family was the patriot Wilson Roscow Curle of the Revolutionary era. The first “Curles” patent was recorded in November of 1635 when a tract of 750 acres land “commonly known as Longfield” was granted to Captain Thomas Harris, 100 acres of which was due him as “an Ancient planter & adventurer in the time of Sir Thomas Dale”.

“Of particular interest are the ruins found during the excavations at Curles Neck in eastern Henrico along the James. Archaeologists uncovered the Thomas Harris house foundation, one of the oldest homes found in Virginia dating between 1635-1654. Thomas Harris served as Burgess for Curles Neck. The archaeologists noted that the framing posts of this house sat in the full basement and some were enclosed by bricks which was unique in the Chesapeake area. A large centrally located chimney suggests that there was a lobby entrance. Built later in the early 1700’s, adjacent to this structure, was the home of Nathaniel Bacon, the leader of the rebellion against the English authorities. Landscape features include intricate terraces and traces of underground tunnels down to the James River which could be used as an escape route from potential Indian invasions.” (Inventory of Early Architecture County of Henrico, Virginia)

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After Nathaniel Bacon was found guilty of treason his property was confiscated by the crown and later acquired by William Randolph. The grand Georgian plantation built by the Randolph family was probably destroyed during the Civil War.

The property has been in continuous use since the 1600s and changed owners many times with many prominent names in early American history associated with it well documented.

John Pleasants donated the first Quaker meeting house at Curles Neck and was one of the trustees appointed to represent the newly formed town of Richmond. Following a successful case before the Virginia Court of Appeals in 1777, the slaves of John Pleasants were allowed to follow the dictates of his 1771 will and were freed. (HC-17)

Curles Neck barns, circa 1930, in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia. Curles Neck Barns Curles Neck barns, circa 1930, in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

1930 G.B. Lorraine Collection

In 1852 Charles Senff, a New York sugar merchant, purchased the then 3,250 acre Curles tract along with the adjoining farms of Bremo (home of Richard Cocke) and Strawberry Plains. Seniff built the 15-room brick Georgian Revival mansion that exists today to replace the pre-Civil War house owned by William Allen which had fallen into disrepair.

C.K.G. Billings bought the property in 1913 and built it into one of the most important horse breeding farms in the country.

The next owner, A. B. Ruddock, started Curles Neck Dairy, which began retail operations in 1933 and became one of the leading dairy suppliers in the East under the ownership of Fred E. Watkins in 1943.

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Vintage announcement of Easter egg hunt at Curles Neck Dairies in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

Virginia Commonwealth University conducted a number of archaeological digs at Curles Neck during summer sessions and a Richmond Times Dispatch article written by Overton McGehee, dated May 13, 1985, quoted L. Daniel Mouer, director of the VCU Archaeology Research Center, as saying they had “found the entire gamut of American history.” They identified the outlines of two building sites from Bacon’s period and five sites from the Randolph’s plantation. Some of the pieces of ceramics found at the site were from the late 1600s. The evidence in the ground also matched an 1806 Mutual Assurance Society document description of six buildings. They found bricks jutting out of the soil where the chimneys once stood and identifiable pieces of steps remaining. The survey team also found pottery fragments and a wine bottle seal marked “Richard Randolph 1735.”

List of buildings on Curles Neck farm, circa 1930s, in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

Mouer was also excited about a site that predated the 1622 massacre of colonists by Indians. Clay pipe stems found there indicated the approximate age of the site. “The archaeological walk through time may eventually go from a 5,000 year-old Indian site to a Quaker meeting house that may have been a stop on the underground railroad in the mid-1800’s”.

An article written by Kent Miller, dated July 30, 1987 in the Henrico County Line, stated that the archaeological excavation project uncovered more than 100,000 artifacts. Evidence found from the ruins indicated that the Randolph Mansion began as an early 18th century house. The house was probably expanded to double its length in mid-century by Richard Randolph II. Either Richard Randolph III or Henry Heth, who had purchased Curles by 1799, added an enlarged Greek Revival porch on the front of the house. The house appeared to have been dismantled by Union Soldiers during the civil War. Civil War related artifacts were found at the site including a bent bayonet that may have been used to pry bricks loose from the walls of the house.

List of Buildings on Farm - 1930s

An artist's reconstruction of Curles Neck manor house in the 1700s, Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.

An artist’s reconstruction of the Curles Plantation manor house in the 18th century.

Henrico County Line

According to an article written by Courtney Morano from Virginia Press Services News Clipping Bureau, The Village Mill, dated August 14, 1995, VCU finished its 11th field school at Curles Plantation. The article confirmed the identification of the house belonging to Captain Thomas Harris and also Nathanial Bacon’s plantation found adjacent to the Harris house. It is believed from their findings that the Harris house burned in the 1650s. Some of the artifacts found included an Elizabethan six-pence dated 1573, part of an armor breastplate pottery shards, part of glass wine bottles with a Randolph seal, smoking pipes, nails, an ax head, and a curtain ring.

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Presently the surrounding land at Curles Neck is being excavated by sand and gravel mining. Centuries of historical artifacts are certainly being destroyed every day. Most of the barns that once represented the dairy industry for which Curles Neck was most recognized in the 20th century have been demolished.

The Curles Neck property, consisting of 5,513 acres, was on the market for a couple of years and the asking price was $24 million. The owners were Richard E. Watkins and Betsy W. Short, the children of the late Fred E. Watkins. Leases for farming, hunting, and the sand-and-gravel mining produce $1 million a year in annual income.

Bald eagles, a large heron colony, and many other species of birds whose numbers are in decline, nest or migrate there for the winter. Conservationists have been looking for ways to protect Curles Neck.

This property represents the history of many people and the very beginning of our nation. Native Americans, early American settlers, as well as African Americans have left imprints in the soil at Curles Neck.

For sale since 2002, the house was purchased by three investors/new owners in 2006. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the Manor House is being restored by the new owners.

  • Privately owned.
  • (Inventory of Early Architecture County of Henrico)

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Leake House

Leake House, which was moved from Henrico County, Virginia to New Kent County, Virginia.

There are not many sites left that reflect the once rural character of Short Pump in western Henrico County. The Leake House was possibly the last example of a log constructed home in Henrico County. There is another in the Tuckahoe District but they don't know if it was used as a home or outbuilding.

Leake House was formerly located on Pouncey Tract Road. Listed in the "Inventory of Early Architecture County of Henrico" - reference number 43-256:

Log siding of Leake House, which was moved from Henrico County, Virginia to New Kent County, Virginia.

"Built of logs, the earliest portion of this house features a two -room plan with a central chimney built in the late 19th or early 20th century. The house may well have evolved from a one-room plan dwelling, but interior evidence indicates that it received its two-room, central chimney configuration at an early date."

Leake House was moved in 2006 in order to save it from demolition by Kerry Shackelford of Museum Resources, Inc. The original log exterior was exposed after siding that was later added to the house was removed (photo courtesy of Kerry Shackelford). It was thought to be one of the last remaining log structures in Henrico County. It was decided that the house will be reconstructed in New Kent County after efforts to keep the structure in Henrico failed.

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Pembroke Leake

Pembroke Leake is the gentleman seated in this picture.

As an interesting sidenote, below is a letter written by Pembroke Leake to his sister, Mollie on May 30, 1864. Pembroke Leake, seated in the picture, served as a Sergeant during the Civil War with the Richmond Howitzers and later transferred to Captain Osmond Taylor's Company (artillery) serving in Longstreet's Corp. His two brothers, Thaddeus Leake and Walter Leake also served. All three brothers survived the war. Pembroke and much of his family are buried at Shady Grove Church.

Transcript of a letter written by the late Mr. P.S. Leake, while he was serving in the War Between the States, at the age of 20.

Camp near Mechanicsville, VA, May 30th, 1864

My dear Sister: (Mollie)

Your letter dated May 26th was received yesterday and I was very glad to hear that you were well. I wrote you the day before we left Hanover Junction. I suppose you have received it before this time. I was very sorry about Sam. He left us yesterday near a week ago to go to Mr. Duke’s. He was very much complaining when he left. He said he would be back the next day unless he felt worse than he did. When he left I told him he had better remain at Mr. Duke’s until he got well but as I have not heard anything from him I am very much afraid that he is taken prisoner as the Yankees went very near to Mr. Duke’s, if they did not get there. If you all have heard anything from him I wish you would write me word immediately for I am very anxious to hear what has become of him. I started Henry down home on the 25th from Hanover Junction with Mr. Cauthorne and I told him to be sure and come back with him, but he did not do it. Mr. Cauthorne got back yesterday and he told me that he had not seen anything of Henry, so if he is at home I wish you would send him down here. We are about 9 miles from Richmond near Mechanicsville. Thad knows where it is very well. I guess we will have one of the largest fights about here than we ever had since the commencement of the war and the sooner it comes off the better for I am getting very tired of lying waiting for them to fight us. Mollie, I was very sorry to hear that Ben Nuckols was dead and Captain Vansurson also. I saw Billy Bowers a day or two ago and he told me that Ben Nuckols and Captain Vansurson were very badly wounded. Peter Bowles is at home sick. I am very much afraid that the Yankees will make a raid down through this neighborhood while we are down here. I have heard that they destroyed a good many houses in Carolina County. I received a letter from Bill this morning. He was in Loudon County, when the letter was written. He seems to be having a good time of it. He said he had received a letter from you. Mr. Adams, who has a son in this company, says he will take this letter by Ben’s for me so you will get it pretty soon. Be sure to answer this immediately. Tell Thad he should write to me. Tell Sister Nannie I will answer her letter soon. I have hardly time to write more at this time. I must close by asking you to give my love to Mama and kiss her for me and love also to Sallie, Sister Nanny, Lou, Sister Bettie and all the children, and also to Thad. Mollie has Miss Ella and Miss Florence gotton back from Stafford County. If they have not, the Yankees have them in their possession. I hope they have gotten back. I remain your devoted Brother.

P. S. Leake

  • (Inventory of Early Architecture County of Henrico, Virginia)

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Nuckols House - Kent

Nuckols House, which was moved from Henrico County, Virginia to New Kent County, Virginia.

The Association for the Preservation of Henrico Antiquities (APHA) purchased the Nuckols Farm from the developer, Wilton Development Corporation, who worked with them until a buyer could be found that would be willing to restore the house. They listed the property on a nationwide Historic Property website and a buyer was found. APHA and the Wilton Development Corporation both received Historic Preservation Advisory Committee Awards of Merit in 2004 as a result of this project.

The farmhouse, an early 19th century Henrico County dwelling, is a classic example of a house which has seen so many changes through the years that its original form was completely obscured. Much original interior detailing remained, including an enclosed winding stair and simple Federal mantels with plain architrave surrounds. To the rear of the house stood the ruins of a sandstone rubble chimney belonging to the former detached kitchen. The house was inhabited by five generations of the Nuckols family. The house was formerly located on Shady Grove Road, nearby to Nuckols Road, which was named for T. M. Nuckols, who owned the farm in the early part of the 20th century. The farmhouse was disassembled; it will be re-assembled in New Kent County, VA.

  • (County of Henrico)
  • (Henrico County Historical Society newsletter)

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Nuckols House - Three Chopt

Nuckols House, today, in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.

This circa 1750 home of Israel Richmond Nuckols and Jane W. Nuckols who purchased it in 1849. In 1920 it was a dairy farm. The property has been surrounded by development. April Sullivan, along with fellow Three Chopt neighbors Michelle Keller and Paul Szatkowski, recognized the historical importance of the property. Later in this webpage is the history about the Nuckols family supplied by April Sullivan. Three Chopt district residents appealed to the County to save the house from demolition. The preservation efforts initiated by Three Chopt district residents and supported by various groups have saved this structure; this appeared in a story, a copy of which is below, by Meredith Bonny, Staff Writer, in the Saturday, March 11, 2005 edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. There are plans to use the property as a park with the possible use of the house as a museum. The Association for the Preservation of Henrico Antiquities also generously matched the amount of $2562.00 donated by the Henrico County Historical Society for the restoration of Nuckols Farm.

History of Nuckols Family:

Source: April Sullivan

Nuckols House, circa 1930s or 1940s, in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia. Nuckols House, today, in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.

The Nuckols House in the 1930s or 1940s.................and the Nuckols House today.

The Nuckols Family itself traces back to the 1600's, but this branch of the family begins with James Nuckolls and Susannah Pouncey who had a son who became known as William "The Patriot" Nuckols (1710 - ?). He was an early Virginia Baptist and, apparently, to distance himself from family members who were still loyal to the crown, he dropped the second "L" in his last name and became known as Nuckols. He is recognized by the DAR as having provided beef and other supplies to the Continental Army in Goochland County. This is called Patriotic Service rather than Military Service, but is acceptable for membership in to the DAR.

William's family included 8 children, one of whom was Samuel Nuckols. Samuel Nuckols married Eleanor Knight and they had a son, Israel Richmond Nuckols (1796-1859), who purchased the home and farm in 1849. Six generations of the Nuckols family lived in the house. Situated in the Tuckahoe Creek Valley near Henrico's border with Goochland, the house is a hall-and-parlor style house. The property also has an exterior, 19th century barn and family cemetery.

Israel Richmond Nuckols married Jane Woodson (1798-1874) and they had four children in the Civil War as part of Company G, 4th Virginia Cavalry out of Hanover County, Virginia. Alongside Jacob Woodson (Nuckols) in Company G were his brothers Henry Knight Nuckols and Thomas Nuckols. In fact, there were so many Nuckols cousins serving in that regiment that it became known as the "Nuckols Regiment". Jacob Woodson was wounded at Spotsylvania Courthouse May 8, 1864.

Jacob Woodson's (Nuckols) wife, Mildred Hester Jordon (1832-1902), is also buried in the cemetery on the property, along with their son Courtland Jerome Nuckols and his wife Harriet A. Nuckols (1877-1930) and their daughter MIldred (1904-1919), who died in the flu epidemic. Courtland Jerome Nuckols owned the farm called Erin Shades on the land that is now Innsbrook at Cox and Broad Streets.

Jacob Woodson (Nuckols) and Mildred had several children themselves, one of whom, Oscar Newton Nuckols, was the first chairman of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors when the county turned to a count-manager form of government.

April Sullivan, along with neighbors Michelle Keller and Paul Szatkowski, recognized the historical importance of the property and appealed to the County to save it from demolition.

Nuckols Family, circa 1906.

19 members of 3 generations lived at the Farmhouse, then called Locust Grove, at the time this photo was taken in 1906. Sitting in the center of the second row is Jake Nuckols. Sitting next to him to the right is his 2nd wife, Alice Clark Nuckols.

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Park plan gets supervisors' approval. Neighbors had sought to save site where Nuckols house sits.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
Saturday, March 11, 2005
Meredith Bonny, Staff Writer.

Dee Dee Sullivan next the Nuckols Farm in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.

Dee Dee Sullivan and her western Henrico County neighbors thought county officials would laugh at them.

In fact, when they first suggested asking the county to buy the historic property across from their homes and transform it into a park, they tossed it out there as a joke.

"We totally did not expect this to work out the way it did," Sullivan said. "They like to build out here."

To Sullivan's surprise, the Henrico Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to spend $388,000 to purchase about 3 acres at 3501 Gayton Hills Lane.

Located in the Three Chopt District, the home on the site, called the Nuckols house, is believed to be one of the oldest buildings still standing in the county. Israel Nuckols bought the property in 1849, and six generations of the Nuckols family lived there.

Fearing that a developer who had purchased the property would get approval to build town homes or single-family residential houses there and that the historical value of the home would be lost, Sullivan and others in the Graham Meadows and Gayton Station communities got involved.

It took nearly a year, but this week Sullivan and her neighbors celebrated.

"The county gets a piece of history. The developer is not losing a huge piece of land. And people are happy that they won't have houses in their backyards," Sullivan said.

According to county records, the property is assessed at $316,300. It was purchased by Gayton Hills LLC on April 27, 2004 for $250,000.

Board members said the people who worked to save the site will have a say in how the park is developed. Many believe it should remain passive, with possibly a few picnic tables and have the house be the focus of the park by possibly transforming it into a museum.

Supervisor David Kaechele, who represents the Three Chopt District, praised the neighborhood and the developer, Skip Gelletly, who planned to build on the the site, for his cooperation.

"This will be a great credit to the county in the future," Kaechele said.

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  • Private residence recently purchased by the government of Henrico County.
  • (Inventory of Early Architecture County of Henrico, Richmond Times-Dispatch, April Sullivan)

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Springfield Baptist Church

Springfield Baptist Church, which was moved from Henrico County, Virginia to Goochland County, Virginia.

Springfield Baptist Church’s origin goes back to 1882. This church was destined for the bulldozer until HCHS representatives made connections with the Field Day of the Past organization and APVA Preservation Virginia who negotiated with the developer, Atlantic Development. The property had been purchased three years ago by Atlantic Development for the purpose of developing a small shopping center. The saving of Springfield Baptist Church was the result of a community working together to preserve part of its heritage.

Springfield Baptist Church, dismantled building being moved on a flatbed truck from Henrico County, Virginia to Goochland County, Virginia.

In early 2007, the church, roof on one flatbed truck and the building on another, made the trek down West Broad Street to its new home at Field Day of the Past show grounds on Ashland Road in Goochland County. The project relied solely on volunteer labor and cooperatives weather, and involved removing the roof, bell tower and steeple in addition to building a stabilizing wall.

The church sold the property three years ago and now meets at J. R. Parker High School, with hopes of eventually building a new sanctuary.

Church members have mixed emotions about moving their beloved church from the site but knew selling the church made the most sense for the congregation. The Springfield Baptist Church continues to maintain the cemetery on the grounds and is guaranteed access in perpetuity.

Audrey Winston, who has been referred to as Springfield Baptist Church’s historian, said she looks forward to visiting the Goochland site next month to discuss how the church should be interpreted. Winston was quoted as saying, “Having to leave was an emotional time, and to realize it is going to be restored and placed on some historical property was a relief. We know it will always be there.”

The church is a fine addition to the Field Day show grounds. It will sit proudly among other period buildings and be one of only a few predominantly African-American churches from its era that remain locally.

  • (Henrico County Historical Society August 2007 newsletter)

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Springfield Schoolhouse

Springfield School was built for African-American children in the 1920s. It was a two-room schoolhouse attended by 40 students per year.

Once its purpose as a schoolhouse passed, it was used for many years as a private residence.

As time passed by, the area changed, including development of neighborhoods near the old school. The historic school was saved from the fate of demolition.

On April 3, 2011, Ace House Movers, Inc. moved the historic school to its new location: Pouncey Tract Park, next to Short Pump Middle School. It should be open to the public once the school building has been restored. Target date for restoration and how the building will be used are not yet known. Henrico County government has allotted $250,000 to cover both the moving and restoration costs. Springfield School is one of only two remaining African-American schools in Henrico County.

The moving of the school and interviews with past students and residents of the old structure have been captured on video for posterity by and thanks to Trevor Dickerson, HCHS member, who reported on the moving of the school and uploaded the video, available above, to YouTube.

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Museum and White House of the Confederacy

Vintage photo of White House of the Confederacy, Virginia.

In the June 14th, 2005 edition of the The Richmond Times Dispatch, Janet Caggiano, Staff Writer, reported The Museum and White House of the Confederacy may be moved to a new location due to the growth of Virginia Commonwealth University in downtown Richmond.

Located on the southwest corner of Twelfth and Clay Streets, the building was originally the residence of Dr. John Brockenbrough, President of the Bank fo Virginia, built in 1816-1818 after a design by Rober Mills. The house was owned by several prominent families until purchased by the city coucil in 1861 as a residence for Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. After the city was occupied on April 3, 1865, the house served as headquarters for the Federal commander until 1870 when military rule came to an end. In 1871 the house was converted into a school and became Central School. It continued as a school until 1894 when it was given by the city to the ladies of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society who wished to preserve the house as a museum and library. On February 22, 1896, the house was formally opened as the Confederate Museum.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, the White House of the Confederacy is one of the nation's finest historic, architectural and decorative treasures. The Washington Post has written that the White House of the Confederacy "is a meticulously restored neoclassical masterpiece that, in terms of quality, historical associations and authenticity, probably is second only to Mount Vernon among restorations of historic American dwellings.

Jefferson Davis was married to Varina Howell. Their first child, Samuel Emory, died before their arrival in Richmond. Margaret, Jefferson, Jr., and Joseph Evan moved into the large nursery and in addition William and Varina Anne, who were born in the Confederate White House. Visitors to the home were likely to hear ringing laughter and screams of bedlam from the playing children, who were infamous for having unbridled spirits and unbroken wills. Tragically, Davis lost his young son, Joseph, "his hope and greatest joy in life" when the five-year-old fell from the east portico on April 30, 1864 and died within an hour. In the decades after the war, three more Davis children died and ultimately, only one daughter, Margaret, survived her parents.

Visitation at the museum and White House has declined steadily, from a high of 92,000 in the early 1990s to fewer than 54,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2004. The museum ended fiscal year 2004 with a deficit of about $393,000.

The Virginia Commonwealth University continues to grow in downtown Richmond. It has acquired the area immediately surrounding the White House and museum. Waite Rawls, executive director of the museum, reported in 2004 that VCU not interested in acquiring the property on which the White House of the Confederacy resides.

Below is a reference to another historic property that was moved from Clay Street, as reported by the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods: (the link has been removed as the website is not valid).

In 1992, MCV/VCU expansion forced a one-block move of the historic Maupin-Maury House, built in 1846, from 11th and Clay to 10th and Clay streets. The MCV Alumni Association, which owns the house, wanted to move the house intact. But engineering studies revealed that an old streambed runs under Clay Street, which raised fears that the street could not withstand the weight of the brick building. There was concern the weight might cause the house to tip over during transport. Consequently, the house was dismantled and a facsimile constructed at 10th and Clay (one block from the White House) where it had neither the integrity of location nor of materials. The result was its removal from the State and National Register of Historic Places - one less historic structure to provide a context for an important old Richmond neighborhood and nearby Capitol Square.

The Henrico County Historical Society was concerned that the fate experienced by Maupin-Maury House would be the same fate awaiting the White House of the Confederacy if it was moved from its original location.

Members of Henrico County Historical Society and other organizations spoke before the Richmond legislative committee to express opposition to the proposal of relocating the White House of the Conferacy. After hearing expressed concern from the public, the legislative committee decided that the White House of the Confederacy should remain in its present location. The Henrico County Historical Society considers this a major preservation success. The latest announcement relating to the museum collection is that it will be displayed at three locations: Appomattox, Chancellorsville, and Fort Monroe. The administrative offices and a small collection of artifacts will remain at the present location in the Museum building behind the White House.

  • (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  • (Richmondneighborhoods.org)
  • (Henrico County Historical Society)

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Past Preservation Sites: All Sites
Cedar Hill-Armour House | Curles Neck | Leake House | Nuckols House-Kent |
Nuckols House-Three Chopt | Springfield Baptist Church | Springfield School |
White House-Confederacy

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