Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Regional Tourism Center Coming to VMFA Grounds

The historic Robinson House located on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will soon be renovated and repurposed to include a regional visitor center. The center will be operated in collaboration with Richmond Regional Tourism and is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2015--just in time for the UCI World Championship Cycling event in September of that year.

Robinson House is a handsome Italianate structure that was completed in the 1850's and was once part of a 159-acure estate that belonged to prominent Richmond banker Anthony Robinson, Jr. In 1884, the house and 36 acres were sold to the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans to become a residence for indigent and disabled veterans. A third floor and a belvedere were added two years later and served as the facility's administration building, war museum, and at times barracks and medical ward. In 1892, Lee Camp sought continued subsidies from the Commonwealth of Virginia to operate the Soldiers' Home. In return, it promised to relinquish the deed to the grounds once the need to house the elderly veterans ended. By the time the last resident died in 1941 and the property reverted to the state, approximately 3000 veterans had resided at the complex. Robinson House served a variety of functions during the next seven decades: offices and labs for the Virginia Institute of Scientific Research (1949-63); offices, art studios, and galleries for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (1964-93); and offices for the Virginia Association of Museums (1995-96).

The preservation of Robinson House will stabilize its structure, reclaim interiors to evoke the building's historic past, and renovate the spaces for use as a tourism center. A gallery dedicated to interpreting the history of the site from Native American times to the present is also planned. The house has been designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and was recently included on the National Register of Historic Places. The Robinson House and the adjacent Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are within walking distance of Maury Place at Monument.

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