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RICHMOND
Forest Hill Park

Forest Hill Park sign

Forest Hill Park entrance sign
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development

 

Forest Hill Park is a 105-acre urban park located on the south side of the James River in Richmond amidst the neighborhoods of Forest Hill, Woodland Heights, and Westover Hills. The park contains a dramatic landscape consisting of steep heights, wooded areas, open spaces, former stone quarries, and streams. The area’s dramatic terrain, which slopes towards the James River, is one of the park’s most appealing attributes. Located on the “heights” above the river, the area was once touted for its healthful atmosphere and cooling breezes. In addition to these natural features, the park contains several notable buildings.

During the 19th century, Holden Rhodes, a locally prominent businessman, lawyer, and teacher, owned the land that now makes up the park. Between 1836 and 1843, he constructed his Greek Revival style home, Boscobel, using granite quarried from the land. This 1½-story granite house, now often referred to as the Stone House, continues to be a focal point in the park.

House in the park

Boscobel
City of Richmond Department of Community Development

After Rhodes’ death, the land passed through several owners including the Southside Land & Improvement Company, which renamed it Forest Hill Park and began selling off land east and north of the park in the Woodland Heights suburb. By 1890, the Richmond and Manchester Railway Company owned the property, using it as the terminus of the company’s electric streetcar line and constructing an amusement park with rides and other attractions. The company altered the Stone House to house a penny arcade. Accessible by trolley, the park was popular for year-round entertainment with activities such as ice skating, sledding, fishing, and swimming.

By about 1930, the trolley line was no longer in use, and the amusement park closed. In 1932, the Forest Hill Community Library opened and moved into the Stone House. The City of Richmond acquired the parkland in 1934, restored the Stone House using Civil Works Administration funds under the Emergency Relief Administration, and built stone and brick walkways, picnic shelters, and other amenities. Since that time, the park has remained an area of picturesque natural beauty. In 1938, the Forest Hill Garden Club received an award from the National Council of State Garden Clubs for establishing a 10-acre tract in Forest Hill Park as a wildflower preserve and bird sanctuary. The project was enthusiastically described as “the most outstanding piece of civic achievement accomplished by a garden club in the nation.” Today, the park is popular for picnics, walking, running, and mountain biking on a network of trails that connect to the James River Park System. The park is second in size only to Joseph Bryan Park and Byrd Park – the “grand dame” of the Richmond city park system.

Plan your visit
Forest Hill Park is located south of the James River between Riverside Dr. and Forest Hill Ave. and 42nd and 34th Sts. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and has hiking and biking trails, picnic shelters, and tennis courts. The Stone House can be reserved for community and civic group meetings open to the public for modest fees.  Contact the City of Richmond, Department of Parks and Recreation, Permits and Scheduling Office at 804-636-0761 to reserve a picnic shelter or the Stone House. For further information, visit the Forest Hill Park website. 
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