AKA First Brockenbrough House, Brokenbrough-Caskie House
1100 East Clay Street
AKA Bruce-Lancaster House
1112 East Clay Street
Demolished, before 1912
The buildings where MCV’s competition lived.
In 1810-11 Dr. John Brockenbrough, at first cashier and later president of the Bank of Virginia, built a mansion at the northeast corner of Eleventh and Clay Streets. It was a two-story dwelling, sixty-three feet long, with a two-story portico in front, and numerous outbuildings, including a long wing on Eleventh in which the kitchen, laundry, and carriage-house were located.
Here Dr. Brockenbrough entertained Richard Channing Moore, who had come to Richmond to be rector of the new Monumental Church and at the same time Bishop of Virginia. Of the hospitality there Bishop Moore wrote in June, 1814: “I am at present at the house of my valued friend Dr. B. St. Paul, in his excursions, was never better received, nor more affectionately treated.”
Why Dr. Brockenbrough was dissatisfied with this handsome dwelling, whether he desired a better view over nearby Shockoe Valley, or whether he was tempted by the architectural genius of Robert Mills, who had come to Richmond to design the new church, we do not know. But in 1816 Brockenbrough sold this house, purchased a lot one block away, and built the mansion we call the White House of the Confederacy.
In 1882 the Brockenbrough house was bought by John A. Lancaster. Mr. Lancaster himself lived in the former Bruce mansion at the eastern end of the block. Buying a strip between the two, he erected in 1883 the long wing east of the Brockenbrough house, taking pains to match the details with the old part of the house. This wing made a double house out of the building, the two parts being occupied in the ’eighties by the Luckes and the John S. Elletts.
Under the leadership of Dr. Hunter McGuire, a new medical college was chartered in Richmond in 1893. Finding that city water could not be had at Duncan Lodge, where the institution was expected to be, the College of Physicians and Surgeons bought the whole block from Eleventh to Twelfth on Clay.
Classes and administrative offices were in the Bruce-Lancaster house, the hospital in the Brockenbrough-Caskie house. The growth of the institution was phenomenal; the corresponding changes in the Brockenbrough mansion were no less so.
The Virginia Hospital, as it was called, was enlarged in every direction, including skyward. A third story and several wings were added. Gardens and outbuildings, the circular bay in the back, all disappeared in the ever-expanding hospital. The interior was even more changed than the exterior. Of its former beauty only three fine doors opening on the highpitched entrance hall remain.
Outside, it is much easier to imagine the house as Dr. Brockenbrough built it, in spite of the disfiguring third story and the not unpleasing wing added by Mr. Lancaster. Altered as it has been, the house retains its dignity and is a not unworthy neighbor to the Wickham house, diagonally across the street.
Since the medical school combined with the Medical College of Virginia, the former hospital has been used for various purposes, including an out-patient department of the college and a W. P. A. headquarters. [HOR]
Sadly, neither building would last. Founded in 1893, the University College of Medicine would quickly outgrow its space, and the former Bruce-Lancaster House was razed to make way for the spiffy new McGuire Hall in 1912. Even that space proved too small, and a fourth floor was added in 1941.
Then, of course, the Medical College of Virginia and University College of Medicine merged in 1913, prompting the need for all kinds of space. The enlarged McGuire Hall was deemed too spare by 1956, and thus Virginia Hospital was pulled down in favor of the McGuire Hall Annex. (Scholars Compass)
VCU’s need for elbow room has always been voracious, but to-date, both Hall and Annex remain.
(Virginia Hospital & University College of Medicine are part of the Atlas RVA Project)
RVA Legends is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!