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RICHMOND
Town of Barton Heights Historic District

Barton Avenue

Barton Avenue
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development

 

The Town of Barton Heights Historic District is a remarkably intact turn-of-the-century residential neighborhood in Richmond.  The district was the first of a number of private and speculative developments outlying the city’s northside.  Developers touted these neighborhoods as a haven for the renter class of managers and clerks, for whom easy terms would finance first houses, and electric rail service would give quick access to the city center.  Barton Heights is significant as one of the first electric trolley suburbs in the United States and is further distinguished as one of the first neighborhoods in the country to be developed using new financing methods such as “rent-to-buy” to attract the middle class to speculative housing. 

Established in 1890, the Town of Barton Heights is a development of predominantly Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style homes named after real estate speculator James H. Barton.  The town rapidly became a success.  Newly laid streetcar lines made the area accessible from downtown Richmond, luring aspiring homeowners and their families to the affordable and less congested hinterlands of the city.  Released in 1906, a brochure extolled the wholesome living offered by this early suburban neighborhood:

Barton Heights is a model residence town.  It has no saloons, no slaughterhouses, no manufacturies, no dirt-breeding or disease-breeding nuisances of any sort…Its citizens are interested in a variety of important enterprises, but these are conducted in the main in the big city to which the town is immediately joined, and from whose noise and heat and dust and turmoil these toilers gladly escape to the quiet, peaceful and beautiful homes they have built or bought on the “Heights.”

The tight-knit community survived the panic and flight of its founder in 1896, later welcomed annexation by the city in 1914, and continued to prosper as a middle-class neighborhood through the mid-1900s.

Large Queen Anne style frame dwellings dominate the district, though there are some masonry commercial buildings on North Avenue and Roberts Street.  Other residential styles include Late Victorian, Italianate, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow/Craftsman.  The demolition of early churches and schools that served the community beginning in the 1920s made way for larger, more centralized institutional and civic buildings constructed in the surrounding area. 

Barton Heights 2

Barton Heights house
City of Richmond Department of
Community Development

Corner Minor, James Barton’s former estate at 2112 Monteiro Street is one of the two most prominent houses in the neighborhood.  Built on the largest lot in the area, this stuccoed frame Queen Anne style house has turrets, multi-sided bays, ornamental block entry posts, and a port cochere

The Hazelgrove House at 2020 Barton Avenue is among the best-preserved examples of the Queen Anne style.  This large, hipped-roof single-family dwelling has a three-story hexagonal tower and a wrap-around porch with spindle frieze and turned columns and balusters.  Its asymmetrical massing and variety of window sizes, material textures, and colors are typical of this picturesque style.  The slate roof features polychrome floral designs.

The Late Victorian style buildings in Barton Heights are mostly wood frame, detached, single-family houses with steep pitched gable roofs covered with standing-seem metal.  In contrast to the neighborhood’s Queen Anne houses, these are more vertically oriented, with less exuberant decoration.  Their one-story porches span the façade rather than wrapping around one or two sides.  Some have a false mansard roof on the façade only.

 Barton Heights includes two rows of Late Victorian-style houses and a few other isolated examples.  A c. 1890 group of small-scale, L-shaped, Late Victorian dwellings is on a single block at 1600, 1604, 1606, 1610, and 1614 Sewell Street.  These steep-roofed houses feature flared eaves with curved rafter ends.  Each of the houses originally had two-over-two double-hung windows, which accentuated each house’s vertical character.  The houses at 203, 205, 207, and 209 Wellford (c. 1900) feature false mansard roofs with floral designs in polychrome slate.  The roof cornices have molded metal cornices.  The one-story hipped porch roofs once had spindle friezes and sawn brackets; these elements remain intact at 209 Wellford.

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


Plan your visit
The Town of Barton Heights Historic District is located less than two miles north of downtown Richmond and is roughly bounded by the 1900 to the 2400 blocks of Barton, Fendall, Greenwood, Lamb, Miller, Monteiro, North, and Rose and includes their cross streets: Dove, Home, Monor, Poe, Wellford, Wickham, and Yancey. The houses generally are privately owned and not open to the public.
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