Several important dwellings are located in the Hermitage Road Historic District. These are high style, architect-designed residences of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and include the work of D. Wiley Anderson. A prominent architect practicing in Richmond’s Northside during this time period, Anderson frequently designed Late Victorian and Colonial Revival-style structures, but was popular for his eclectic combination of these styles.
One of the purest examples of his Late Victorian architecture is Holly Lawn, a Queen Anne dwelling that dates to 1900. Located at 4015 Hermitage Road, it is a three-story structure with a compound form and an irregularly shaped roof. Its stylistic details include a buff colored brick façade with decorative detailing, fish-scale slate roof shingles, polygonal towers, and roof finials. An extremely well-preserved example of Anderson’s work, Holly Lawn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Originally built for Andrew Bierne Blair, it was also the home of Ennion G. Williams, a prominent Richmond physician, and the property later served as the home of the Richmond Council of Garden Clubs from 1969 until 1993, Holly Lawn suffered massive damages during a storm in June 2016 and, after more than two years of extensive work, had been completely restored by September 2018.
Another example of Anderson’s Late Victorian architecture is Montrose, which is located at 4104 Hermitage Road and was built for the Edmund Strudwick family. Dating to 1898, it is a Richardsonian Romanesque high style dwelling. A three-story, four-bay structure, it has a mansard roof with parapeted cross-gables. The only one of its kind on Hermitage Road, it is characterized by ashlar stonework, battlements and Romanesque arches. This structure is also significant because it was the threat of its destruction in 1988 that rallied the community to create a local historic district to protect the architecture along Hermitage Road.
An excellent example of the eclectic style Anderson is known for is Rosedale, which is located at 4016 Hermitage Road and the estate for which the Rosedale neighborhood was named. Combining the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles, Anderson juxtaposed a complex Queen Anne building form and roof form against a four-bay façade that gives the impression of Colonial Revival symmetry and embellished it with Colonial Revival detailing. Designed for John Pope, a prominent Richmond businessman and real estate development partner with Lewis Ginter, it dates to 1897. Pope died before he could move in, and Rosedale’s first owner was Anton Thierman, who was also one of Lewis Ginter’s associates.
An example of Anderson’s more pure Colonial Revival architecture is located at 4106 Hermitage Road. Known as Shadyhurst, it dates to 1899 and was originally the home of J. Clements Shafer, a private secretary to Lewis Ginter. In 1915 J. Lee Davis, a Richmond businessman and real estate developer who eventually bought and developed Bellevue Park, purchased the property. Characterized by a large wrap-around shed-roof porch supported by slender, squared columns, it has a standing seam metal roof and a modillioned cornice. The home originally had six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a three-room servant’s cottage, a stable, and carriage house. A part of the carriage house was later converted to a garage to house automobiles used by the Davis family. Of the outbuildings original to the property, only the servant’s cottage remains today.
In addition to Anderson’s designs are four other significant estates. Two of these are very similar in style to Anderson’s eclectic work. The Oaks, which dates to 1909, is located at 4010 Hermitage Road. Wrenford, which is located at 4102 Hermitage Road and dates to 1896, is the work of architect Walter R. Higham; an intact carriage house and a Sunday carriage house are included on this property. Both of these properties combine the complex building and roof forms of the Queen Anne style with the symmetry of Colonial Revival. The Oaks design uses mainly Colonial Revival detailing, whereas Wrenford employs both Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style detailing.
Located at 4211 Hermitage Road is Willowbrook, an Italian Renaissance style estate that is now home to the New Community School. A two-story compound structure with flanking one-story side-wings, overhanging eaves with decorative brackets and a Spanish tile roof, it was built in1925 for the J. Lee Davis family. The estate also includes a barn, a garage, and a gazebo. In recent years, the school has built compatible new space as part of a campus expansion project.
At 4002 Hermitage Road is Edgewood, the oldest structure in the district. A simple Queen Anne style house with a carriage house, it dates to the 1870s and was purchased in 1889 by Lewis Ginter, a prominent Richmond businessman and real estate developer. Ginter used Edgewood for his land office and to house his bachelor workers. He later deeded the property as a wedding gift to C.T. Watkins, a landscape engineer for Ginter, who had lived at Edgewood while a bachelor.
The HRHDA is grateful to Lisa Wood, a longtime member, neighborhood leader, and advocate for historic preservation. Mrs. Wood oversaw the neighborhood’s successful application to the National Register of Historic Places, from which the above material was drawn.