RVA Legends — Richmond Female Seminary

RVA Legends — Richmond Female Seminary

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

[RVCJ93] — 3 East Grace Street circa 1893

AKA, Mrs. Mead’s School
3 East Grace Street
Established, 1841, 1873

Proper escort required!

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — Mrs. Anna Marie Mead Chalmers

On October 4, 1841, with the help of several clergymen, [Anna Maria Mead] opened a Richmond boarding and day school for girls. For twelve years, even through the death of her only daughter in December 1843, she was principal of Mrs. Mead’s School, one of the larger and better private schools in the city. She initially employed one other female teacher and two male teachers, but the success of the school was such that within two years she added other members to the faculty and in 1843 began the session with more than 130 pupils.

[RVCJ93] — All Saints Episcopal Church circa 1893, which used to stand at 316 West Franklin Street

The curriculum was demanding, comparable to the best available in academies for the sons of prominent Virginia families. The offerings included ancient and modern languages, astronomy, chemistry, history, literature, mathematics, music, philosophy, and theology, specifically including poetry with Christian messages. Mead expected her students to attend Episcopal services with her unless their parents provided a proper escort to another church.

[RVCJ93] — John H. Powell
By 1852, Mrs. Mead transitioned herself out of the school and moved on to other activities. Her role was assumed by one of her former faculty members and continued as before, but by 1873, the leadership changed again, and it took on a new name. (Encyclopedia Virginia)

The Richmond Female Seminary, of which John H. Powell is principal, and Mrs. T. G. Peyton, associate principal, occupies a building at 3 East Grace Street, which has been appointed throughout in modern fashion especially for the purpose to which it is devoted. It has accommodations for thirty -five boarders, and this is the number at present domiciled in it. It has an attendance of 170 in all. These are chiefly daughters of the first families in this State, West Virginia and the Carolinas, but it has some also from other States, and even from as far as the State of California.

[TVSM] — advertisement in The Virginia Seminary Magazine — February 1892

This school was established in 1873. In its methods and aims it has no superior among the best of the female seminaries of the country. Its management is in capable hands, and its work efficiently done. It has remained under the same management from its establishment, and the same corps of assistants, in the main, has been employed for many years. Mr. it covers two acres. The Academy buildings, three in number, are of interest from the fact that they are old time mansions reconstructed and enlarged to suit the purposes of the school.

(LOC) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 90

One of them was built in the last century and was the scene of much festivity in the good old Revolutionary days. The spacious grounds surrounding these buildings are planted with fruits and flowers; the young ladies of the school are permitted to cultivate their favorites of the garden, and have especial allotments for that purpose. [RVCJ93]

February 2019 — 3 East Grace Street today

That was then. This corner of Grace Street has been a parking lot for decades, a permutation that’s not likely to change any time soon.

(Richmond Female Seminary is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.
  • [TVSM] The Virginia Seminary Magazine, Volume 5. February 1892.


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