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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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Richmond Then and Now: Flooded Westover Hills Boulevard

A then and now snapshot of Richmond.

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The photo above is from the RTD photo archives with the caption, “In June 1969, drivers navigated a flooded Westover Hills Boulevard in South Richmond after heavy rainfall”. More like Wetover Hills Boulevard am I, right? I’ll see myself out.

Shoutout to the Volkswagen that drove by when I was taking this shot and almost in the exact spot of the Volkswagon in 1969. I could not have planned it better.

 

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RTD has the History of Nickel aka Boulevard Bridge

Learn more about our favorite bridge (that we can use) across the James. Mayo is a close second for those keeping track.

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Living only a few blocks from the historic bridge means it has a special spot in my heart. I’ve crossed it countless times both on foot and in the car. I’ve seen bald eagles, osprey, kayaks, rafts, inner tubes, and a fair share of questionable driving. With it be such a prominent part of my life it was fascinating to get more details on the bridge from RTD.

They’ve provided a nice timeline and photos. My favorite bit of new information:

Jan. 5, 1925 — Thousands of motorists availed themselves of the decided moderation in temperature, combined with the fact that yesterday was the last day that motorists and others were allowed to cross the structure free of toll charges, and “tried out” the Boulevard Bridge.

Hundreds of automobiles, from the flivver to the more pretentious high-powered car, crossed the bridge during the day. At times there were so many of the gasoline-propelled cars on the structure that progress was made only at a snail’s pace.

An attache of the Boulevard Bridge Corp. essayed to keep a tally of the cars crossing the structure and succeeded fairly well until he had counted 5,000. At that juncture, however, they were coming so fast and so thickly that he got lost in the mathematical jungle and gave up in despair.

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NBC12 on Pony Pasture Parking Woes

Although the focus of the story is on Pony Pasture other areas are being impacted by heavy park usage.

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NBC 12 has the story on the parking issues in our parks.

”It has been a lot more people this year. I don’t know if it’s because of the coronavirus. I’m sure there’s probably a lot of pools that are not open, or whatnot, and no places for people to go,” said Susan, a Stratford Hills resident who lives close to Pony Pasture.

According to the city’s Office of Parks and Recreation, the number of visitors to Pony Pasture in the month of June 2020 alone was over 44,000. They add that as of June 30, 2020, the James Rivers Park System had seen 1,076,873 visitors whereas on the same date in 2019 – there were 975,433 visitors.

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