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Chestnut Hill--Plateau Historic District


Chestnut Hill

House in Chestnut Hill
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development

 

Chestnut Hill and the adjoining subdivision The Plateau were originally the site of Mont Comfort, a farm Richmonder Samuel DuVal owned in the 18th century. The extension of a street across the ravine known as Cannon’s Branch in the 1890s connected the area with neighboring developments. The Northside Viaduct Company built the Fifth Street Viaduct in 1892, and two groups of real estate investors, the Northside Land Improvement Company and the Highland Park Company, bought up land and offered home lots for sale. The Richmond and Manchester Railroad Company operated a streetcar line through the district beginning in 1893. Chestnut Hill is the southeast portion of a larger area known as Highland Park, through which runs Brookland Park Boulevard, the major east-west street connecting north Richmond’s late 19th century streetcar suburbs. The Chestnut Hill—Plateau Historic District is not only significant as a collection of early 20th century residences, but also for its role as an early streetcar suburb development.

Chestnut Hill includes a number of large Victorian residences standing out amongst smaller Arts and Crafts, American Foursquare, and assorted revival-style homes. Carneal and Johnston, one of Richmond’s best-known architectural firms, designed a house for G. L. Beardsley that would become one of the most noteworthy in Chestnut Hill. This Colonial Revival building at 2300 2nd Avenue has far more detail than the typical Foursquare houses, which surround it. It features an inset two-story central porch with a neoclassical frontispiece, polygonal flanking bays, and a wide, “kicked hip” roof.

Chestnut Hill2

Chestnut Hill Historic District
City of Richmond Department of Community Development


While Chestnut Hill has historically been primarily residential with businesses clustered around prominent street corners and on Brookland Park Boulevard at the northern edge of the neighborhood. Examples include a c. 1915 two-story brick commercial building at the corner of Spruce Street and 4th Avenue that housed a neighborhood store and another building resembling it at Brookland Park Boulevard and 4th Avenue. The latter once housed a store on the ground floor but is now a Masonic lodge.

Churches tended to occupy corner lots in Chestnut Hill. Two Gothic Revival examples are the Episcopal Church of the Ascension at Custer Street and 4th Avenue and Northside Baptist Church at Victor Street and 3rd Avenue. Richmond architect Charles Robinson designed the granite Northside Baptist building with its high gable roofs and crenellated corner tower. He designed the similar First English Evangelical Lutheran Church on Monument Avenue two years later. The Northside Baptist complex continued to evolve through the 20th century as its congregation expanded, with a 1916 addition along Victor Street and a 1934 educational building at the rear of the church. A new sanctuary along the northeast portion of the original building with a stone façade dates from 1956 . Other historic places in Chestnut Hill include the Armory building at 500 Dove Street and the Holy Cross Cemetery at 1700 1st Street.

The city’s highly successful Neighborhoods in Bloom program instilled new life into the once-neglected Chestnut Hill area. Numerous rehabilitation projects are currently underway restoring many of the old homes to their former glory.

Plan your visit
The Chestnut Hill--Plateau Historic District is six tenths of a mile north of downtown Richmond, and is roughly bounded by 1st Ave. on the west, 5th Ave. on the east, Trigg St. on the south, and Brookland Park Blvd. on the north. The houses generally are privately owned and not open to the public.
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