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Hills & Heights

Must-See RVA! — Archibald Freeland House

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

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March 2020
  • 1015 Bainbridge Street
    Built, circa 1770

A grand Colonial house in the heart of Old Manchester, and one of the oldest in the city.

(The Valentine) — John Murchie, a founding father of Manchester — oil on canvas, John Durand — 1780s

(The Valentine) — John Murchie, a founding father of Manchester — oil on canvas, John Durand — 1780s

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.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1886) — Plate 33 — showing property in 1886, including a Shanty, an Old Shanty, and Well

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1886) — Plate 33 — showing property in 1886, including a Shanty, an Old Shanty, and Well

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.

(Elks History Project) — 1907 postcard for the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks

(Elks History Project) — 1907 postcard for the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks

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.

March 2020

March 2020

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.

March 2020 — showing curious keystones

March 2020 — showing curious keystones

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.

(Google Arts & Culture) — Archibald Freeland House, between 1910 - 1930 — Cook Photograph Collection, The Valentine

(Google Arts & Culture) — Archibald Freeland House, between 1910 – 1930 — Cook Photograph Collection, The Valentine

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]

March 2020 — showing veranda detail

March 2020 — showing veranda detail

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)


Print Sources

  • [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.

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Combining protean forces from the forbidden Zero Serum with the unbridled power of atomic fusion, to better probe the Wisdom of the Ancients and their Forgotten Culture.

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Drink Beer and Help Friends of James River Parks

Raging James Pilsner is the latest release from Legend Brewing and a portion of each sale will got to Friends of James River Park.

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Friends of James River Park announced their latest partnership today and it’s tasty.

Legend Brewing Company is the oldest operating craft brewery in Virginia. As their Vice President of Operations, Dave Gott, told us, “It’s important that you be a part of the community – not just IN the community.” Legend has hosted our board meetings and annual get-togethers. On any given weekend (and often any given day) their parking lot is full of cars carrying kayaks and bicycles, and their patio is crowded with people who have spent the day enjoying the James River Park System.

Given their proximity to the James River and our Park, we were elated when they floated the idea of creating a special beer for our organization. Raging James Pilsner is their newest release, and a portion of the sale of each can will help us continue our efforts. Legend has supported Richmond for almost 30 years, and as we approach 50 years of commitment to the Park, we’re honored to partner with them on this.

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How to move a snapping turtle across the road and why.

You’re most likely to see a female Snapping Turtle on the road crossing to find a good dry spot to lay her eggs.

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Snapping Turtles are one of the scariest and coolest looking critters you can run across in the Richmond area. Unfortunately many times you’ll see them on the road and that is not a good spot for a Snapping Turtle or any turtle to be. It’s egg-laying season so female Snapping Turtles are on the move and crossing roads. Snappers travel long distances away from water to search for a nest site on dry land.

NEVER pick up a Snapping Turtle by its tail because doing so can cause spinal injury. Gloves are recommended when available. Always move turtles in the direction they were headed and do not relocate.

Snapping Turtle populations have declined significantly in recent years due to over-harvesting, poaching, and poor reproductive success.Snapping Turtles don’t reach maturity until 6 to 7 years of age and female turtles lay a single clutch of 26 to 55 eggs once a year. There is a high nest failure rate, with most of the eggs eaten by predators resulting in only 6 to 9 percent of hatchlings surviving.

If you can here is how to safely move a snapping turtle.

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Suspect Sought in McDonough Street Shooting

Today at approximately 2:43 p.m. RPD officers responded to the 900 block of McDonough Street for the report of shots fired. Officers arrived and located two adult males down with apparent gunshot wounds.

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From RPD

Today at approximately 2:43 p.m. RPD officers responded to the 900 block of McDonough Street for the report of shots fired. Officers arrived and located two adult males down with apparent gunshot wounds. One of the victim’s injuries are considered life threatening.

They were both transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact

Major Crimes Detective C. Tovar at (804)-646-6739 or Crime Stoppers at

(804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

From other reports we’re hearing a bartender and a customer at Ironclad Pizza were the victims.

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