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Must-See RVA! — Palmer House

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




June 2019

211 West Franklin Street
Built, 1852
June 2019

This beautifully preserved example of late Greek Revival was built on a corner of the old Robert Greenhow place, for many years the home of Joseph Mayo. This house was built in 1852 by the trustees for Mrs. Sarah Howard. From 1854 to 1860 it was the property and home of Anthony Robinson Jr., and from 1868 to 1880 it belonged to Z. W. Pickrell, president both of a large lumber company and of the Citizens’ Bank.

[RVCJ03] — City Bank of Richmond president, Colonel William. H. Palmer

[RVCJ03] — City Bank of Richmond president, Colonel William. H. Palmer

In 1880 it was bought by William H. Palmer, head of the Southern Fertilizing Company, whose daughter, Mrs. W. O. Young, still occupies it. Having been in the same family for over sixty years, the house is most readily associated with the Palmers.

The house is a typical example of the three-story dwelling of this period. What chiefly distinguishes it (in addition to its perfect condition) is the entrance porch, which is of the purest type of classic revival.



In some of these late neo-Greek residences the builders seem to have lost the memory of what Greek orders were like, and the result is often a debased attempt at suitable columns, capitals, and entablature. The Palmer house porch is a delight, in perfect proportion to the size of the house. The only noticeable change is the large panes of glass which have been put in the elongated windows of the first floor.

June 2019 — showing a detail of the porch canopy

June 2019 — showing a detail of the porch canopy

Palmer himself appears to be one of those busy bee executives in the manner of Norman Randolph that Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James carefully depicts at length.

Not only did he lead Southern Fertilizing Company, but he was also President of the City Bank of Richmond and Virginia Fire & Marine Insurance Company and at one time or another served as a Director of the National Bank of Virginia, J. L. Hill Printing Company, and the Richmond Locomotive and Machine Works. Must have been nice to be so well connected. Convenient too; the two banks and the insurance company stood just a few yards away from each other on Main Street.

(Palmer House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)

Print Sources

  • [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.
  • [RVCJ03] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1903.


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