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RVA Legends — Ben Green Row

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

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22-30 Maiden Lane
Built 1838

Though the name Oregon Hill is now loosely used of the whole section south of Cary and east of Hollywood, Oregon Hill proper is a very small neighborhood, occupying the V between the two entrances to the Robert E. Lee Bridge.

(LOC) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate P — Maiden Lane, between Belvidere & South First Streets

Belvidere Street forms the dividing-line between it and Sydney. In deeds of the ’forties the whole promontory is called Belvidera Hill, from Belvidere, the home of the third William Byrd of which we shall say more in the next chapter.

June 2016 — Rowe & South First Streets looking SE

The excitement in 1845 over the boundaries of Oregon (“Fifty-four-forty-or-fight”) that almost drew the United States into war with Great Britain led some wag to dub the remote and barely accessible development Oregon Hill, and the name stuck.

June 2016 — South First Street facing north

The first division into small lots of the land on Belvidere Hill took place in 1817. This, however, was west of Belvidere Street. In 1838 Lewis E. Harvie sold two acres east of Belvidere and south of the Penitentiary to that remarkable adventurer, Benjamin Green, who in the same year built nineteen small brick houses.

June 2016 — Former location Maiden Lane

Five of these are still standing, numbers 22-30 Maiden Lane. This little row is very picturesque, especially when viewed from the rear, since all but one of the houses is masked in front by a modern porch. Ben Green may be considered the first to determine the character of the buildings on Oregon Hill as modest three or four room dwellings. South of his row are three small frame houses a few years later in date.

[ORN]

8 and 10 Maiden Lane
Built 1846 and 1848

The fact that 8 Maiden Lane, which we are tempted to call the “cutest” house in Richmond, sold in 1936 for $200, and in 1948 for $2,000, gives a measure of how cheap real estate on Oregon Hill remained before the post-war housing shortage. [ORN]


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