- 1015 Bainbridge Street
Built, circa 1770
A grand Colonial house in the heart of Old Manchester, and one of the oldest in the city.
Whether this handsome house was built by Archibald Freeland or before he owned the property, it is thus far impossible to say. We know that he bought the lot, then numbered 133, from John Murchie in or before 1805, but the deed was in the records of the Richmond District Court, which were burned in the Evacuation Fire. That the house was by no means new in 1805 is evident from the first insurance policy, taken out by Freeland in that year. The four buildings-house, kitchen, stable, and smokehouse—are valued at $8900, a depreciation of $500 being allowed, which would suggest that they were at least five years old.
Archibald Freeland, ancestor of many Virginians of today, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1757. Emigrating to Virginia about 1780, he owned tobacco warehouses at Warwick, one of which was burned by Benedict Arnold. He was in the tobacco exporting business and also invested heavily in lands both in Chesterfield County and in Kentucky. His affairs became involved, and in 1819 he mortgaged his house to his son-in-law, James Scott, of whom we shall hear again in connection with the house he built long afterwards on Fifth Street. Meanwhile Scott lived in the Freeland or Murchie house.
In 1853 he sold it to the trustee for Mrs. S. S. Walke. It was owned by the Walkes down to 1889. In 1907 it was purchased by Manchester Lodge Number 843 of the B. P. O. E. and was an Elks’ Club for nearly thirty years. In 1938 its present owner acquired for $3100 the only mansion still standing in Richmond on the south side of the James River.
An exterior view of this house is deceptive, since it has been spoiled by the long veranda and by the large panes of glass in the windows. The outbuildings are all gone; so is the balustrade around the top. Its location on an eminence and the proportions are all that suggest how handsome it could easily be made.
The windows on the Eleventh Street side have curious keystones, made of bricks set in relief and not covered with plaster. Inside, one is much more immediately impressed. The staircase is a very unusual one, with a low-swung curve quite different from the long curve of the Wickham house stair, but no less beautiful, though the balusters and newel post seem to have been changed in Victorian times. The small room to the right of the door seems an afterthought also.
The most magnificent feature is the paneling in the rooms to the left of the entrance, which extends across that end of the building and can be compared only with that of the Marshall house. The back room originally extended all the way across the back of the house. A graceful arch between the two halves has recently been filled in. All the doors, practically, are of the six-panel “witches’ door” type. The mantels are varied and interesting, three having a curious pattern that looks like the “shelf-paper” formerly used for kitchens and pantries. In spite of some alterations necessary to make it into a two-family dwelling, the interior on the whole is well preserved and in fairly good condition. [HOR]
Today the house still sits on the same sun-drenched corner, right next to the old Baptist church. It’s looking a little old in spots, but so would you if you were 250 years old.
Architecture Richmond has a nice write-up on this house with additional history and pictures. Not to be missed!
(Archibald Freeland House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.
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