The Wickham-Valentine House was built around 1812 for John Wickham and designed by architect Alexander Parris (who was also responsible for the Virginia Governor’s Mansion). The house was bought in the late 1800’s by Mann S. Valentine II, who later gave the house to be used as a public museum. Guided tours are now offered through the house to great reviews and praise by those who attend.
The Front Hall.
The house was constructed of stucco over brick, with a square porch. The house is very symmetrical in form. The front doorway had double doors with a fanlight above (similar to the now-demolished Archer House). (Whether it be a contractor found through the Home Advisor review site or recommendations by family and friends, houses today are still being built with similar materials and designs all across the country.) Alexander Parris worked for decades as an architect; much of his other work was done in Massachusetts and other Northern states. The Fanueil Hall Market addition of the 1820’s (built of granite and brick) and St. Paul’s Church (constructed of gray granite with Potomac sandstone) of Boston were two of his other famed structures.
Perhaps the most photographed portion of the house is the graceful staircase, with mahogany balustrade and baseboard carvings of magnolia buds and blossoms.
The Garden Plan, circa 1920’s.
The gardens at the Wickham-Valentine House had once occupied an entire city block, but by the 1920’s, the gardens had been diminished in size but were still described as quite lovely, with mangnolia, yew, and fruit trees; boxwood; lilac and rose bushes; and a fountain and sundial.
The photographs of the exterior, front doorway, and staircase at the Wickham-Valentine House are from the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Call Number HABS, VA,44-RICH,5-; digital editing by Sarah E. Mitchell. The Garden Plan is from Edith Dabney Tunis Sale, editor; compiled by The James River Garden Club, article by Laura C. Martin Wheelwright, Historic Gardens of Virginia, The James River Garden Club, Richmond, VA, 1923, illustration attributed to Lila L. Williams; digital editing by Sarah E. Mitchell. Information derived from Edith Dabney Tunis Sale, editor; compiled by The James River Garden Club, article by Laura C. Martin Wheelwright, Historic Gardens of Virginia, The James River Garden Club, Richmond, VA, 1923; the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Call Number HABS, VA,44-RICH,5-; and Ken Myers, Wickham-Valentine Museum staff member.
The Wickham-Valentine House is now open to the public as part of the The Valentine History Richmond Center.
Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2014 Sarah E. Mitchell