NE corner, Sixth & Leigh Streets
Built, before 1796
A long block separated Clay from the street north of it to which in 1844 the name of Benjamin Watkins Leigh was given.
At that time a deep ravine lay between Clay and Leigh streets as far west as Sixth, the stream in this gulley flowing east into Shockoe Creek.
Being more remote from the centre of the city, Leigh Street saw fewer of its early buildings replaced by rows, and retained more of them until relatively recent times, though most of them have now been replaced by storage-garages.
The earliest house that we can find a photograph of was a frame cottage that stood at the northeast corner of Sixth. Built at an undetermined date before 1792, it was, like the Copland house at Eleventh and Broad, evidently a composite, the oldest part being the cottage on the corner, to which two wings had been added in the rear. The earliest occupant known to us was Col. John Steele, who migrated to Mississippi in 1804 or earlier. At that time the house was purchased by Anderson Barret, a builder, who spent his last years in a house on the west side of Sixth, north of Leigh. As a youth he had worked on the Capitol, in 1816 he built the Archer Anderson house, and in his old age he supervised the construction of his cousin William Barret’s mansion at Fifth and Cary. He died in 1857, aged eighty-four.
His son-in-law, Logan Waller, lived in the house at Sixth and Leigh from 1832 through the ’sixties, and here in 1832 was born Linden Waller, who at the request of Mr. E. V. Valentine wrote a lively memoir of his recollections of Richmond covering two-thirds of the nineteenth century.
Mr. Waller says that when the old house was pulled down, a tablet was found in the chimney giving the date as June 25, 1740. This would be difficult to verify, but if the original cottage was really as old as that, it was no doubt part of the farm-buildings of a place then fairly remote from the newly founded village of Richmond. [ORN]
(Waller House is part of the Atlas RVA Project)
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