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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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Tour de Fall Line Donation Based this Year

The RVAMore website isn’t up to date with the new race information yet but I’m sure will be available soon.

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RVA More’s Tour de Fall Line is back but a little different this year. All proceeds directly benefit rvaMORE to help enhance your outdoor experience on our local trails.

The entry fee is WAIVED.

Our only request is that you stop by the rvaMORE tent, say hello and drop 20 bucks into the trail fund wheelbarrow.

This event has been our premier fundraiser for a number of years; but without the aid stations, food, music, and beverages, we
elected to go with optional donations rather than an entry fee.

What to expect: You can choose to ride whatever distance you want and start at any point along the route. As always, GPS maps will be available for download.

The full course will be marked by volunteers. There will be no aid stations.

This is a ride of fun and self-sufficiency – the DNA of MTB riding.

Bring your friends or enjoy a solo soul ride for the day.

We’ll be hanging out all day.

We sincerely hope you can join us for a day of celebrating our city trail system!

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Westover Hills Boulevard Death Investigation

There was a fatal shooting in the 400 block of Westover Hills Boulevard on Sunday.

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RPD reporting the following:

At approximately 9:53 p.m. (Sunday, October 24th), Richmond Police responded to the 400 block of Westover Hills Boulevard for the report of a shooting. Officers arrived and located an adult male with an apparent gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.

Anyone with information about this death investigation is asked to call Major Crimes Detective A. Coates at (804) 646-0729 or contact 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.

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48 Hrs Store Now Has Zero Hours

Sometime over the weekend the local convenience store closed for good.

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The plan dear readers were to swing by this weekend and ask what was up after reading various rumors about the fate of the little store that many folks have a love/hate relationship with. My timing was poor because I was greeted by the scene above. A quick check of the property records doesn’t list a recent change and there aren’t any permits on the door indicating work. The planned work on the adjacent strip of stores doesn’t include the 48 Hrs Store.

So let’s go straight to the rumors.

The most credible from two second-hand sources is that the store will reopen under new management.

Someone has also floated a vape shop moving in.

The store was never pretty but the owners, when they were in town, were super nice. It was for many years our go-to spot for beer and chips. That was about all we bought there, beer and chips.

We’ll keep an eye out and update if we get anything beyond a rumor.

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