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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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Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!

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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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Hill Standard’s Website is Live

More details on the latest development on Forest Hill Avenue.

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Nearly weekly on local social media the question comes up, What are they building next to the school (4910-20 Forest Hill Avenue)? You will no longer have to explain that it’s a mixed-use pair of buildings that will include apartments, a brewery, coffee shop, and an ice cream shop. Now you can simply give them this link (https://www.hillstandardrva.com/hill-standard-richmond-va/) and send them on their merry way.

If you’re thinking of moving in, one-bedroom apartments start at $1,225 while a two-bedroom will start at $1,943.

If you’re thinking of getting a beer, the Veil satellite brewery is planning on being open in September.

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Request an Open Street

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As cities across the world have struggled with Covid-19 there have been a couple of interesting side effects. There have been fewer cars on the road and people have been spending more time outside. Open/slow streets are streets that either limit or are completely closed to car traffic to allow for easier walking, skating, and bike riding. It obviously won’t work everywhere but if you’ve got a spot in mind let the city know. A couple of spots that absolutely won’t work but are interesting to contemplate/dream are Nickel Bridge and Riverside Drive.

Another use for open/slow streets would be to allow local restaurants to create patios in parking lots, or parking spots so that they can take a step back into profitability.

Here is the official pitch:

Bike Walk RVA is partnering with the City of Richmond to survey where we need Open Streets for walking and biking safely during the pandemic as phases of reopening are drawing closer.

Cities across the US and the world are reopening space to people on foot and bike to allow them more space to spread out safely during the pandemic, including essential workers, those needing to get fresh air and exercise, and, more recently, diners of restaurants with outside seating.

Mayor Stoney has heard the call for open streets in Richmond and is setting up two processes, one for restaurants to expand onto the sidewalk (where walkways may need to be moved into a temporary expanded sidewalk in a parking lane or travel lane) and one for pedestrian space with a focus on health and equity.

Since the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, Bike Walk RVA has worked with nonprofit, government, and advocacy partners to build out a concept for Open Streets in Richmond, including a draft citywide list of possible locations based on things like the Bike Master Plan, Richmond 300 master plan, traffic volumes, health and equity indexes, and the GRTC network as a launching off point. That full list is the basis of the following survey and can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jugBR3fU5IXPUkmCMdC6pb_Pmp2bRbvrifNCzB4O79w/edit?usp=sharing and mapped here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1L81sla0jqQs1vB7EmYys2pT5x1UuKdAr

Results from this survey will be shared with the mayor’s administration and city council. We respect your information and will not share elsewhere. Please share this survey with any city resident and civic group, especially those whose voices may not already be a part of this conversation.

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Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by SPCA or RACC.

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Where Spotted: Westover Hills
Common Name: Eastern Towhee
Scientific Name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Length: 6.8-8.2 in (17.3-20.8 cm)
Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz (32-52 g)
Wingspan: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)

Quick Facts (Courtesy Cornell Lab)

  • Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size.
  • The Eastern Towhee and the very similar Spotted Towhee of western North America used to be considered the same species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. The two forms still occur together in the Great Plains, where they sometimes interbreed.
  • Eastern Towhees are common victims of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird. Female cowbirds lay eggs in towhee nests, then leave the birds to raise their cowbird young. In some areas cowbirds lay eggs in more than half of all towhee nests. Towhees, unlike some other birds, show no ability to recognize or remove the imposter’s eggs.
  • Eastern Towhees tend to be pretty solitary, and they use a number of threat displays to tell other towhees they’re not welcome. You may see contentious males lift, spread, or droop one or both wings, fan their tails, or flick their tails to show off the white spots at the corners. Studies have shown that male towhees tend to defend territories many times larger than needed simply to provide food.
  • The oldest known Eastern Towhee was a male in South Carolina, and at least 12 years, 3 months old.

Blueberry at Richmond SPCA

Have you been on the search for a cat that has many layers of personality? Has a swagger in his step? Is handsome, affectionate and always seeks the spotlight? Yep, this is me benevolent Blueberry! Almost anything I do is with exuberance. Why, I may just inspire you to be an artist; I can drape myself on the sofa and you can begin to paint your masterpiece – me! And lastly, I have one tiny favor that I need to ask is that you please do not get me confused with a chicken, because I love to chirp! Now that you have read about me all you need to do is rush here to the Richmond SPCA!

Age: 4 years, 1 month
Gender: Neutered Male
Color: Brown
Declawed: No
ID: 31616720

Adopt Blueberry at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

To reduce visitor traffic, during the COVID-19 outbreak they are scheduling adoption appointments beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Please leave your phone number in a voicemail or email and an adoption counselor will call to set an appointment for you to meet with a pet. Email the adoption center or call 804-521-1307.

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