Monday, November 14, 2011

The Boulevard: Another of Richmond's Grand Avenues

Maury Place at Monument is located at the intersection of Franklin Street and Monument Avenue, two of the most historic thoroughfares in our City.  This past Sunday, however, we spent a crisp fall afternoon strolling down another nearby "Grand Avenue,"  the Boulevard.  The Boulevard is located just a few blocks East of Maury Place at Monument, and the Stonewall Jackson monument is located at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Boulevard.   In addition to the Jackson Monument, Boulevard boasts two of Richmond's most significant museums, an attractive mix of architecturally distinguished houses and apartment buildings, and one of our City's largest parks at its most southern point.  

The Boulevard's history dates back to 1817, long before Richmond's western expansion.  The road was originally called Clover Street and was part of the proposed town of Sydney, which never developed.  The street's oldest house is the Robinson House, which today is on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  It was built around 1860.  The road grew more prominent in 1875, when it was widened to accommodate travelers going to the recently completed reservoir and park at its southern end.  That park was named William Byrd Park by 1907 and was a destination in itself.

By 1890, the street became known as the Boulevard and began to grow.  In 1884, the Confederate Soldiers' Home was established to house disabled Confederate veterans on land where the VMFA now stands. Construction of Battle Abbey began in 1912 on land adjacent to the Confederate Soldiers' Home, and is now the headquarters of the Virginia Historical Society. Construction of the VMFA began in 1934, and the museum opened in 1936. Residential development of the Boulevard in the area of the museums began around 1912 and continued into the 1930's.   The many architectural styles include Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Craftsman.  Apartment living became fashionable in the 1920's, when many of the street's beautiful apartment buildings were built.  Many apartment dwellers had larger houses in the country, and apartments in the city--many of which were so fancy that they had maid's quarters!

Today, the Boulevard Historic District sits in the heart of some of the City's most prestigious residential and shopping areas, dividing the Fan District from the Museum District (in which Maury Place is located), and Carytown.  Having Byrd Park, the Fan, Carytown, and the museums within walking distance gives the Boulevard neighborhood special appeal.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument