2011 marks the 400th anniversary of Henrico County’s founding in Virginia. In 1611, Sir Thomas Dale left the Jamestown settlement and moved upriver to a peninsula now known as Farrar’s Island. There, he and other members of the Virginia Company formed Henricus, the second English settlement in North America. The name Henricus or Henrico was chosen in honor of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales and son of King James I. Henricus coexisted with its Indian neighbors for about a decade before relations deteriorated. Threatened by the rapidly expanding settlement, Indians attacked Henricus in 1622, nearly destroying the fort. The dislocated settlers established another community on the other side of the James River, which became the village of Henrico.
In 1634, England took control of Virginia, dividing it into eight shires, one of which was Henrico. The shire would eventually encompass a large section of central Virginia, and its boundaries included what are today eleven counties (Albemarle, Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Henrico, Nelson, Powhatan) and three cities (Charlottesville, Colonial Heights and Richmond).
Today’s Henrico consists of approximately 244 square miles that are divided into five districts: Brookland, Fairfield, Three Chopt, Tuckahoe and Varina. Since 1934, Henrico has been the only county in Virginia to use the county manager form of government. The county’s 300,000 residents are represented by a Board of Supervisors, which appoints a county manager to serve as administrative head.
This exhibition shows photographs taken in Henrico during the 19th and 20th centuries, including sites that exist today and sites that are now gone, places of historic significance and those yet to gain celebrity. This collection bears witness to the daily life of Henricoans in the place they call home.
It is not exactly known where Brookland District got its name. Theories include the prevalence of brooks in the area as well as the presence of Upham Brook. Henrico’s General District Court and Administrative complex, the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Parham Campus and Amtrak’s Staples Mill Road train station are all located in this district.
Brookland District borders Three Chopt District to the south and west, Richmond City and Fairfield District to the east, and Hanover County to the north. Staples Mill Road runs directly through the district, and major roads include Interstates 295 and 64, Parham Road and Hungary Road.
This 1966 view of West Broad Street shows some 20th century Henrico landmarks. To the left is the Executive Motor Hotel (built 1960), a mid-century Modern structure with a curved rear wall that off-set a three-story glass lobby. Recently, the hotel was demolished after years of neglect. In the distance is the Reynolds Metals Company international headquarters. Built in 1958 in the International style, much of the complex is constructed of aluminum. Today, the building serves as Altria Group’s international headquarters.
This view of Forest Lodge resort greeted visitors disembarking from the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac railway. John Cussons, Englishman and Confederate captain, developed the 125-room hotel in the 1880s. Among its visitors were Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show. Forest Lodge remained open until Cussons’s death in 1912. After a variety of subsequent owners and alterations, the hotel was demolished in 1992.
The Staples family operated a corn mill along a pond on land known as Staples Mill or Staples Plantation. After the Civil War, Major Courtney purchased the surrounding property and renamed it Dumbarton Grange after a Scottish estate. Writer James Branch Cabell kept a cabin by Staples Mill Pond and used it as a writing retreat. Roads bearing the names Staples Mill and Dumbarton intersect adjacent to the pond, which for years was a popular recreation spot.
In 2001, the only surviving log tobacco barn in Henrico County was relocated from the Cross property by Staples Mill Road to Meadow Farm Museum. Although the barn dates to the early 20th century, it resembles those from the 19th century.
In 1975, Broad Street Station (built 1919) closed its doors to train passengers. Train travel had greatly decreased since the station’s heyday in the 1940s. A newer, much smaller station for Amtrak trains soon opened at Staples Mill and Hilliard roads. While Broad Street Station later became the home of the Science Museum of Virginia, the Staples Mill Station continues to operate today.
Customers experience a busy day of shopping at this Dumbarton Ukrop’s Supermarket located at Staples Mill and Hilliard Roads. The store became a Martin’s Food Market when the Ukrop family sold its grocery chain in 2010.
Originally inhabited by Indians, the land comprising Meadow Farm was owned by the Sheppard and Crump families from the 18th through the 20th centuries. In 1800, family slaves warned Mosby Sheppard of plans for a slave uprising to be known as Gabriel’s Rebellion. Sheppard built the property’s current farmhouse in 1810. Sheppard Crump, Mosby Sheppard’s great-grandson, acquired Meadow Farm in 1913 and lived there until his death in 1960. According to his instructions, his widow Elizabeth Adam Crump left the farm to Henrico County to be used as a park and museum. Today, Meadow Farm Museum (3400 Mountain Road) operates as a 19th century living history farm programs, changing exhibitions and seasonal events.
When Willow Lawn Shopping Center opened in 1956 on West Broad Street near Staples Mill Road, it was Richmond’s first suburban mall. The open-air center’s original tenants included Giant Food, JCPenney, Peoples Drug and Woolworth’s. Over the decades, developers enclosed portions of the center as competition increased from newer, indoor malls. Recent years have seen a revitalization of Willow Lawn, which is currently undergoing renovations to return to its open-air roots.
Echo Lake, named for its impressive echoes, powered a flour mill in the 1880s. In 1909, farmer and preacher Jacob E. Lewis purchased the property, which became a popular recreational site for Glen Allen’s African American community. Through the 1940s, residents enjoyed picnics, boating, dancing and camping, and local churches regularly conducted baptisms. Henrico County purchased the property in 1981, and it operates today as a public park on Springfield Road.
This wagon (circa 1910) was originally owned by C. D. Wingfield, operator of Crystal Ice Company. The photograph was taken at Laurel, a small community that was the site of a water station for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac railway. Originally named Hungary, the area became known as Laurel around the time of the Civil War. Today, the historic district’s existing buildings include the Laurel Industrial School for Boys (later the Virginia Industrial School), which was established for delinquent boys as an alternative to imprisonment.
The name Fairfield was designated for this area in 1870 because of its remarkably even fields. Fairfield also was the name of a number of colonial estates in Virginia.
Fairfield District is relatively narrow and runs between Hanover County to the north and Richmond City to the south. It creates a link between western and eastern Henrico, bordering Brookland District to the west and Varina District to the east. A peninsula of land to the east has recently been redistricted into Fairfield from Varina. Major roads include Interstates 64 and 295, Mechanicsville Turnpike, Laburnum Avenue and Brook Road.
Virginia Estelle Randolph (1870-1958) dedicated her life to education. Born to formerly enslaved parents, Randolph taught briefly in Goochland County and in 1892 began work at Mountain Road School in Henrico County. In 1915, the Virginia Randolph County Training School opened for African American students in her honor. In 1970, Henrico County dedicated the school as a museum. In 1976, the museum was declared a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior. The Academy at Virginia Randolph, a school for academically and behaviorally challenged students, operates nearby on Mountain Road.
Bloemendaal means “valley of flowers” in Dutch and is the name philanthropist Grace Arents gave to this site to honor her family’s Dutch ancestry. When Arents bought the property (located at Lakeside Avenue and Hilliard Road) in 1913, it previously had been a Powhatan Indian hunting ground, was once owned by Patrick Henry, and served as the headquarters of the Lakeside Wheel Club. Arents converted the property’s house into a convalescent home and later lived there with her partner Mary Garland Smith. Today, thousands flock to Bloemendaal, now operating as Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
The Virginia State Agricultural Society held the Commonwealth’s first exposition in 1854 at Monroe Park in Richmond. Subsequent locations included moves to West Broad Street and the Boulevard. In 1946, the then renamed Atlantic Rural Exposition opened at Strawberry Hill on Laburnum Avenue. The fairgrounds combined agricultural and livestock exhibitions, a horse track and a midway with rides and carnival attractions. In 2009, the fair saw another reinvention with its move to the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County.
Richmonders Sydney and Frances Lewis founded Best Products Company in 1957. The couple’s innovative business plan combined mail-order sales at near wholesale prices with showroom displays. The company eventually expanded to 31 showrooms across the country before closing in 1997. The Lewis’ interest in contemporary art influenced the avant-garde design of many of its buildings. Its distinctive corporate headquarters, constructed near North Parham Road in the early 1980s, combined contemporary and Art Deco design. Two large, stone-cut eagles (one is visible to the far right) came from the 1939 East Side Airlines Building in New York City.
Safety Town operated at Azalea Mall, located at Brook Road and Azalea Avenue, to teach children personal safety. Henrico County Police Officer J. W. Poe and Richmond City Police Officer David N. Carter are shown instructing children how to use crosswalks properly. Mrs. William A. Nixon and Mrs. Edward H. Pruden, Jr., entertain as clowns while parents register their children for summer safety classes.
The Stewart family provided funds for the establishment of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, located at 1214 Wilmer Avenue. Prior to the church’s construction, residents at Brook Hill and the surrounding area traveled to Richmond to worship. Architect Clifton A. Hall designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The structure, built 1859-1860, is thought to be the last such example constructed before the Civil War. Set on 12.5 wooded acres, the campus eventually included a school building (1910) and parish house (1957). In 2010, the congregation celebrated the 150th anniversary of Emmanuel’s founding.
When Azalea Mall opened in 1963, it was Richmond’s first enclosed shopping center. The mall straddled Henrico and Richmond, although most of it was located in the county. A convenient shopping destination for Northside residents, the mall thrived until the 1980s, when vacancies began to rise. Although new owners razed the mall in 1999 with plans to redevelop, the property is vacant. Today, the Azalea Garden Center operates on a small portion of the site. All that remains of the mall itself is an old store directory sign, which presides over empty acres of parking lot.
Dr. Keith Ready, an associate professor of recreation, parks and tourism at Virginia Commonwealth University and an authority on playground design, pushes his daughter Katie and friend Stacey Hagen on swings. Owned and operated by Henrico County on Sausiluta Drive, Three Lakes Park consists of three lakes and a nature center. The lakes were created from borrow pits dug during the construction of Interstate 64. Families enjoy fishing, hiking and picnicking around the lakes, as well as programs, exhibits and a 50,000 gallon aquarium.
Located opposite Brook Run Shopping Center on Brook Road, the Brook Hill estate has been privately owned by the same family (Williamson, Stewart and Bryan) since its original construction in 1839. The Greek Revival home underwent an expansion during the second half of the 19th century, which added elements of the Gothic Revival, Italianate and Aesthetic movements. Brook Hill served as a hospital during the Civil War and was the residence of Scottish entrepreneur John Stewart, as well as newspaper publisher Joseph Bryan.
In 1888, Virginia Governor Fitzhugh Lee dedicated this monument, located at Telegraph and Harmony roads, to commemorate Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart. General Stuart was mortally wounded on May 11, 1864, during the Battle of Yellow Tavern, which was named for the nearby tavern located south on Brook Road. The battle pitted Stuart’s cavalry against Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s cavalry. The outnumbered Confederate troops held the line, though they eventually retreated. Sheridan’s forces continued on Brook Road to Richmond.
Three Chopt District
“Three Chopt” refers to an Indian trail that originally ran from Powhatan’s Village in Richmond’s east end to the western part of Virginia. Travelers made their way following a pattern of three notches on trees. After the English arrived, the trail became know as the King’s Highway, although the Three Notch name remained, eventually evolving into Three Chopt.
Three Chopt District, established in 1969, borders Tuckahoe District to the south, Goochland County to the west, Hanover County to the north and Brookland District to the east. The district is narrow to the east, where it briefly borders with Richmond City. It then gradually widens to the northwest, moving into Short Pump. Interstate 64 runs straight through the district, meeting with Interstate 295. Other major roads include Broad Street, Nuckols Road, Pouncey Tract Road, and, of course, Three Chopt Road.
This 1899 photograph shows a group of three men traveling on Three Chopt Road in their horse-drawn carriage.
This two-room schoolhouse was originally located on Three Chopt Road near Cox Road. Deep Run School provided instruction from 1902 to 1911 and served as a social gathering space for the Short Pump community. In 1996, Henrico County moved the school to its present site in Short Pump Park, 3401 Pump Road, where it operates as a museum.
Three Chopt District contains the largest number of public schools in Henrico: 12 elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 2 high schools.
In 1978, the newly restored Cheswick home at Franklin Farm opened to visitors during Virginia’s annual Historic Garden Week. Owners Dr. and Mrs. Fred T. Laughon had moved farmhouse (built 1796) from its original location on the 127-acre chicken farm to a site on Three Chopt Road in 1973. The Franklin family had occupied Cheswick since the 1880s. Cheswick continues to be privately owned today.
In May 1969, members of B’nai Shalom Congregation gathered for the groundbreaking of its new synagogue at 9500 Three Chopt Road. By the mid-1990s, the Jewish Community Day School operated at the site. Today, the Three Chopt Church of Christ worships at this location.
Where did Horsepen Road get its name? During the Revolutionary War, Continental Army soldiers kept horses in pens on a site that is today West Broad Street in Three Chopt District. The road leading to the pens later adopted the name Horsepen.
When Innsbrook Corporate Center opened in 1982 at West Broad Street and Cox Road, it was surrounded by farms and forests. Considered Richmond’s “second downtown,” the office park’s 100 buildings and 7 hotels are today part of a huge commercial corridor leading west to Short Pump. Innsbrook is also known for community events, such as its music series “Innsbrook After Hours.” In 2010, Innsbrook’s next chapter began when its land-use zoning changed to urban mixed use. Long-range plans include a mixture of office, retail, entertainment and residential development.
A familiar landmark at the corner of West Broad Street and Pemberton Road, the discount wholesaler Price Club opened its Henrico doors in 1984. The membership warehouse club began in 1976 in San Diego, California. In 1993, Price Club merged with competitor Costco, becoming PriceCostco, later shortened to Costco.
Built around 1908, the Short Pump General Store was owned and operated by the Henley family. Like many rural stores at the turn of the century, Short Pump General Store was centrally located and carried a variety of goods. Positioned at the intersection of West Broad Street and Three Chopt Road, the store also was a social center for the community. After 1969, the store owners began selling antiques. The property was demolished in 1996 to accommodate the widening of Broad Street.
The name Tuckahoe comes from an edible plant root that grew along waterways and was eaten by Indians throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Many nearby sites use the Tuckahoe name, including Tuckahoe Creek, which meets the James River, and Tuckahoe Plantation in Goochland County, Thomas Jefferson’s boyhood home.
Tuckahoe District encompasses the southern section of western Henrico. Its borders meet Goochland County to the west, Richmond City to the east and the James River to the south. Major roadways include River, Gaskins, Parham, Pump roads and Patterson Avenue.
Eighteenth-century Huguenot settlers mined the first coal and iron in the United States at the Richmond Coal Basin, originally located in Henrico County (now split between Goochland and Chesterfield counties). The 19th-century Gayton mining village operated around the area coal deposits. Railroad cars carried coal to the James River and Kanawha Canal. For nearly two centuries Henrico County provided coal to the City of Richmond. Mining activity declined after the Civil War, and the mines closed permanently after an explosion in 1912.
This photograph shows Country Club of Virginia members unveiling a marker for the new Tuckahoe Creek golf course located off South Gaskins Road. Creating Henrico’s western border with Goochland County, Tuckahoe Creek runs into the James River to the south. During the early 19th century, commercial efforts widened and deepened the creek to allow for navigation. A canal later linked local coal pits to the James River and Kanawha Canal.rico’s western border with Goochland County, Tuckahoe Creek runs into the James River to the south. During the early 19th century, commercial efforts widened and deepened the creek to allow for navigation. A canal later linked local coal pits to the James River and Kanawha Canal.
This image shows students walking to the three-year old Douglas Southall Freeman High School. Named for the prominent journalist and Southern historian, the school opened to 1,000 students in 1954. That same year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Brown v. Board of Education ruling that mandated the desegregation of public schools. Virginia did not begin to integrate its schools until 1959. Today, Freeman High School has a fairly diverse student body, and the school building has recently undergone extensive renovations.
River Road Shopping Center opened in February 1960. Nestled in a triangle of land between River and Huguenot roads, the shopping center was designed in Colonial Williamsburg restoration style. The nine-store center had a Safeway grocery store as its anchor and was designed to serve Tuckahoe District residents as well as southside communities such as Bon Air and Stratford Hills.
This photograph shows Regency Square shopping center during the first year of its operation. The 1,000,000 square foot, enclosed mall initially housed four major department stores: Miller & Rhoads, Thalhimers, JCPenney and Sears. The food court was added in 1987. For many years, Regency Square was the region’s largest mall. During the last decade, however, the arrivals of Short Pump Town Center and Stony Point Fashion Park increased competition for customers. The now aging mall, located at 1420 North Parham Road, has seen vacancies rise amid the changing times.
In the 1870s, Richard and Octavia Haxall owned the farm that would become Redesdale (8603 River Road). The Haxall family was a leading manufacturer of flour during the antebellum period. In 1925, tobacco executive Leslie H. Reed and his wife Helen L. Reed acquired the property. They hired New York architect William L. Bottomley to design a Georgian Revival country house (built 1925-1926). Renowned landscape architect Charles Gillette designed Redesdale’s gardens.
Located at the corner of Patterson and Forest avenues, Fire Station No. 8 was originally constructed in 1950. The station was recently demolished to make way for a new, expanded building. In addition to responding to emergencies, Henrico’s Fire Department participates in a variety of community events. In 1976, these activities included a Halloween pumpkin sale. Firefighter David Nowell is dressed as a jack-o-lantern.
The Edward E. Willey Bridge connects the Chippenham Parkway with Parham Road over the James River at Bosher’s Dam. Constructed in the late 1980s, the bridge is named for State Senator Edward E. Willey (1910-1986). Willey served in the Virginia General Assembly for 34 years and chaired the Senate Finance Committee. He also operated Willey Drug Company in Richmond’s Northside and was named Virginia’s “Pharmacist of the Year” in 1951.
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has operated the Roslyn Retreat Center since 1934, following a bequest from St. Paul’s Church member Annie Rose Walker. Located off River Road, Roslyn provides a peaceful environment for reflection and education. Its facilities are also open to churches, non-profits and government agencies for meetings, retreats and community events like the picnic shown above.
Located off River Road near Ridge Road, the Windsor on the James subdivision was developed during the late 1980s and contains luxury homes. In 1989, local interior designers revamped a Windsor on the James residence for the annual Richmond Symphony Designer House.
The name Varina comes from a type of tobacco grown in Varina, Spain. The tobacco strain grown during Virginia’s early settlement resembled this Spain variety. After the Indian Massacre of 1622 ended the Henricus settlement to the west, a new village began on the eastern side of the James River. Named Varina, the community was the site of Henrico’s first county seat, as well as its first courthouse.
Varina is Henrico’s largest district, comprising the majority of the county’s east portion. The district borders Richmond City and Fairfield District to the east, Chesterfield County to the south, Charles City County to the west, and Hanover and New Kent counties to the north. Interstates 64 and 295 intersect in the middle of the district, and major roads include Laburnum Avenue and Williamsburg, New Market and Darbytown roads. Both Richmond International Airport and Henrico’s Eastern Government Center are located in Varina.
Varina Plantation is located on the James River near Interstate 295. Also known as Varina Farm, the land was originally cultivated for tobacco by John Rolfe. Reverend James Blair, first rector of the College of William and Mary, lived there, as did the Randolph family. Prior to the Civil War, Albert Aiken built the brick home that currently resides on the property.
Beginning in 1634, Henrico’s court met in private residences and public buildings within Varina, the county seat. The first courthouse was built at Varina Plantation prior to 1666. In 1752, the court moved to a facility located at North 22nd and East Main streets. The courthouse shown above is the third structure located at this site. The Romanesque Revival building was completed in 1896. Annexations by Richmond later placed the building within the city limits, but the courthouse land remained under county ownership. Since 1974, Henrico’s Courthouse and Government Center have operated at Parham and Hungary Spring roads.
Dating to 1775, Tree Hill sits between New Market Road and Osborne Turnpike, with a view of the James River and downtown Richmond. County clerk and politician Miles Selden purchased the home in 1778. During his ownership, a popular racetrack operated at the plantation. The Marquis de Lafayette attended a horse race in October 1824. Tree Hill later passed to the Roane family. On April 3, 1865, Tree Hill was the site of Mayor Joseph Mayo’s surrender of Richmond to Union troops. Today, the current owners plan to develop the 351-acre property into a mixed-use community while preserving the original home.
Curles Neck Farm is located on Curles Neck Peninsula, whose name is thought to derive from the curling form the James River takes around the land. Curles Neck Farm has been continuously cultivated since about 1630, making it one of Virginia’s oldest and largest farms on the James River. The property was the home of the rebel Nathaniel Bacon at the time of his death in 1676. Besides growing crops such as wheat, Curles Neck has been a significant horse breeding and training ground, a large dairy, and a major livestock producer. Archeological surveys by Virginia Commonwealth University during the 1980s and 1990s uncovered more than 100,000 artifacts, the oldest dating to 8,000 B.C.
In 1927, the City of Richmond purchased 300 acres of land in Sandston in eastern Henrico and funded construction of Richard E. Byrd Flying Field. Charles Lindbergh attended the dedication on October 15, 1927. The airport kept the Byrd name until 1985, when it changed to Richmond International Airport. Improvements to the airport have occurred every decade, such as the major terminal expansion depicted above.
Seven Pines National Cemetery, located in Sandston at 400 East Williamsburg Road, was founded in 1866. Its name is derived from the Civil War battle (also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks) fought on the site in 1862. Following this battle and the wounding of General Joseph Johnston, General Robert E. Lee took command of Confederate forces and renamed them the Army of Northern Virginia. Of the more than 1,700 remains interred in the cemetery, almost 1,400 are Union soldiers moved to the site from the Savage Station battlefield and surrounding fields. The cemetery officially closed in 1964, although some internments still occur.
Highland Springs dates to the 1890s and was one of Henrico’s railway communities. Bostonian Edmund Sewell Read founded the development, which was known for its many springs. Read purchased 1,000 acres of land, which he initially divided into 500 individual lots. The Richmond and Seven Pines Railway Company linked Highland Springs to Richmond. Today Highland Springs is located directly north of Richmond International Airport across Interstate 64.
The Varina-Enon Bridge carries Interstate 295 across the James River from Varina in Henrico County to Enon in Chesterfield County. The six-lane bridge opened in July 1990. It was Virginia’s first cable-stayed bridge and the second in the United States. This design allows ships to pass underneath while avoiding a drawbridge that stops traffic above. The Varina-Enon Bridge is Virginia’s second tallest bridge (150 feet of vertical clearance) after the Wilson Creek Bridge in Montgomery County. Henrico County has incorporated the architecture of the Varina-Enon Bridge into its 400th anniversary logo.
Fulton Hill School opened in 1882 and was the first public school in Varina’s Montrose area. In 1914, the school’s name changed to Montrose, which comes from a Scottish estate called Montrose Heights. Montrose Elementary Schoo has operated at its Williamsburg Road site since 1925. Today, it is one of ten elementary schools in the Varina district.
In 1859, Josiah and Mary Dabbs moved to this property located on Nine Mile Road. During the Civil War, the recently widowed Mary Dabbs fled the residence, which was in the path of Union troops. In 1862, she gave permission for General Robert E. Lee to use the house as his field headquarters. After the war, Henrico County purchased the property, which was initially used as an almshouse. The 20th century brought additional uses, most significantly Henrico’s Police Headquarters from 1941 to 2005. Today, Dabbs House is interpreted as a historic house museum and serves as the Henrico County Tourist Information Center.
Located northeast of Richmond International Airport, the community of Sandston dates to the 1920s. Developer Oliver J. Sands, of the Richmond Fairfield Railway Company, and other investors purchased from the federal government 230 bungalows that had been built for workers of the World War I Munitions Plant. Sandston would grow from 400 residents in 1923 to more than 3,000 in 2000. Originally called Fairfield, the town was later renamed Sandston to honor Sands.
Exhibition Sponsor — Henrico 2011 Commemoration Advisory Commission, County of Henrico, Virginia
Exhibition Co-Curator — Meg Hughes, Curator of Archives, The Valentine
Exhibition Co-Curator — Kim Sicola, Supervisor of History Programs, County of Henrico, Virginia