The Church Hill neighborhood lies in the heart of the city of Richmond Virginia and is the perfect place for those longing to buy a historic home. The area is the oldest neighborhood in Richmond and is said to have gotten its name when William Byrd ll stood in the area now known as Libby Hill park and saw how the view below resembled the view of Richmond on Thames in London, England. Most of the homes in this area are pre Civil-War and architecture consists of Colonial, Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne. The city has restored more than 200 historic properties in the Church Hill area since 1983. Live here and you will enjoy evening strolls down charming tree lined streets illuminated by the area’s distinctive gaslights. As you stroll you will pass charming row housing and townhouses adorned with wrought iron, ornate wood porches, lavish scrollwork and facades of stone and brick. Living here you will have many opportunities to enjoy history. I will share some of the many things that you can enjoy in the Church Hill area below.
Get to know:
St. John’s Church
This historic church was built in 1741 and is where (in 1775) Patrick Henry gave his infamous speech which ended with his exclamation of “Give me liberty or give me death”. Every Sunday from Memorial Day to Veterans Day, you can witness Patrick Henry trying to convince his fellow countryman to take up arms against the king. You too can play a part in the reenactment by sitting in a pew and voting on resolutions. After you have finished taking part in your historic civic duty, take a stroll through the surrounding cemetery. This lovely old cemetery is the final resting place of 1,300 people including George Wythe (a signer of the Declaration of Independence) and Elizabeth Arnold Poe, loving mother to Edgar Allan Poe.
Elizabeth Van Lew
Learn about this amazing woman who was an abolitionist and a philanthropist. She brought words of comfort and supplies to the union soldiers who were kept at Libby Prison and even helped some escape. This incredible woman built and operated an extensive spy ring for the Union Army. She had such an extensive spy network that she was able to station someone in the White House of the Confederacy. She gathered valuable information and then passed messages hidden in egg shells along to Ulysses S. Grant.
Edgar Allen Poe
Fans of this writer of gothic fiction will want to visit St. John’s Episcopal churchyard to view the memorial marker of Elizabeth Arnold Poe mother of Edgar Allen Poe. Take a stroll just behind the churchyard to find the Elmira Shelton House. This is the home of Poe’s sweetheart prior to his departure from Richmond.
4 Parks in Church Hill:
Libby Hill Park
Libby Hill Park is a seven acre park located between East Franklin and Main Street. Libby Hill Park was the first park created as designated breathing spaces in the 1850s. There are carriage roads that connect the park and historic homes on the hilltop to the river and market areas below. The park has amazing not to be missed views of the James River and Downtown Richmond. The park has meandering pathways for leisurely strolls, a gorgeous ornate fountain and benches where you can sit, relax and enjoy the amazing view.
Jefferson Park is located at the corner of North 21st street and East Marshall Street. Jefferson Park is made up of wide open spaces and lots of trees. Amongst all this natural beauty you will discover a children’s playground, a bandstand and for the exercise buffs, a fitness trail. This park also sits high on a hill and commands an amazing view of the downtown Richmond skyline.
Patrick Henry Park
The size of a city block and across the street from the St. John’s Episcopal Church, lies Patrick Henry Park. It is located on East Broad Street between N 24th Street and N 25th Street. The park is the first thing that you see when driving up Broad Street into the neighborhood of Church Hill. This lovely park provides lots of green spaces, benches and picnic tables for a leisurely family outing. There is also a monument of Patrick Henry, one of the founding figures in American History.
This expansive 30 acre park is located at 3201 E. Broad Street. Chimborazo Park was originally the site of the Chimborazo Hospital, one of the world’s largest military hospitals. Though the hospital is gone, the park is now home to the Chimborazo Medical Museum. Head to the south side of the park to see the Powhatan Stone which commemorates King Powhatan and his relationship to John Smith and the English settlers. Nearby you will find a miniature Statue of Liberty which the Boys Scouts gifted to the city in 1951 as part of a nationwide campaign to “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty ”. Head on over to the east side of the park and you will find the Chimborazo Round House. This structure is the 3rd of it’s kind to be built here and is a comfort station and park house.
Relax and Refresh:
The Hill Café
The Hill Café has been welcoming Church Hill neighbors since 1989. The restaurant is warm, cosy and inviting with incredible staff serving comfort foods. They offer Blue Plate specials between 11:30AM and 6PM. which is $3 off the original prices.
Visit this cozy Church Hill bakery for delicious breads and pastry made with flour the owners mill themselves from grain purchased from local farmers.
Front Porch Café
You may want to stop in to the Front Porch Cafe for a delicious cup of coffee but coffee won’t be the only reason that you keep coming back to this inviting Church Hill coffee shop. The Front Porch Cafe’s mission is to provide “skill training and job experience to the youth of Richmond’s East End”. This cafe gives new meaning to the term giving back.
The historic neighborhood of Church Hill in Richmond Virginia is a wonderful place for you to hang your hat. Full of history, beautiful green spaces and amazing businesses run by people who care, in Church Hill you will always feel welcome all you need to do is pick out your perfect historic home.