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Must-See RVA! — Watts House

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.

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AKA, Isaac T. Smith House
1206 Apperson Street
Built, 1850

A mysterious house on Fulton Hill.

(LOC) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate N

Off Williamsburg Road, past the crest of the hill, stands a huge, unassuming house that was once the centerpiece of a much larger estate. According to Beers, the main entrance to Isaac T. Smith’s property lay on Williamsburg Road. It sported a circular drive and had several outbuildings, including a two-story barn which still stands.

May 2017

This would lead you to think that the house was somewhat grand, but in person, it has the modesty of a country farm house, with little exterior ornamentation. If that’s the case, building this large, sturdy structure in brick indicates that it was a farmer of some means.

May 2017

The exterior is largely spartan, except for a corbelled cornice that defines the roof-line of the central structure and wings, but the interior is rich with a number refinements, such as corner treatments on the stairs.

The owners were told that the house had served as a hospital during the Civil War. Weighing in at 2886 square feet of finished living space, it’s certainly big enough to have accommodated such a purpose.

May 2017

And yet, all of the usual sources that describe old houses in Greater Richmond are silent on the Watts House. Not Mary Wingfield Scott, not Jeffrey O’Dell, not the historic registries — bupkis. Nor is it mentioned in Richmond’s Wartime Hospitals, which focuses strictly on the locations in the city.

May 2017

It seems odd that a property with such a backstory would fall out of the public ken, but there you have it. Despite being represented in the 1877 Beers atlas, Fulton and Fulton Hill were a bit of a gray area with respect to the City of RIchmond. Neither the Baist (1889) or Sanborn maps (1905) include them.

(ProQuest® Sanborn Maps Geo Edition™) — Sanborn Insurance Maps of Richmond (1924-1925 Volume 2) — Plate 269

So here’s a plea to the reading public: you got something on this place? Bring it! If there’s anyone out there who has the skinny on this wonderful old house, please share your knowledge, so we can tell the rest of the story.


Rocket Werks thanks Sonny Fleming and his wife Ellen, who graciously permitted a tour of the grounds of Watts House.


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