Richmond Things to Do Tips by zrim
Richmond Things to Do: 255 reviews and 389 photos
White House of the Confederacy (rear view)
In my opinion, no tour of Richmond would be complete without a visit to the White House of the Confederacy. It is a historical site of the utmost importance. It matters not what your own view of the Civil War might be; it is critical, I believe, to be able to step back into history and view the place which was the command center of the Confederacy.
The White House of the Confederacy is only open to those who take the group tour. I would strongly suggest that the combination ticket of the White House and the Museum of the Confederacy be purchased. Not only is it a money saving deal, but the Museum of the Confederacy is a top notch museum in its own right.
The White House of the Confederacy is relatively small and the tour takes no more than a half hour or so. About fifty percent of the original furnishings have been restored. Unfortunately, photos are not alllowed on the tour so I cannot show you Jefferson Davis' office or the state dining room or parlor. But rest assured that the White House has been lovingly restored and attention has been paid to every last detail.
The pure lines and columns of the Virginia Capitol
Any discussion of must see activities must begin with the classic structure of the Virginia Capital Building (even if it is the last site that you see, as was the case for me).
If you spend any time in Virginia, you soon come to realize that the influences of Thomas Jefferson are everywhere. Mr. Jefferson was a wordsmith (drafted the Declaration of Independence) as well as a brilliant architect. In 1785 the newly formed State of Virgina requested that Jefferson design its new capitol building. Jefferson was heavily influenced by Roman and Greek architecture and chose a "temple" style for the Virginia statehouse.
I must admit a fondness for rotundas on state capitol buildings, but I cannot find fault with this pure and simple form of architecture. It is breathtaking even on the rainiest and gloomiest of days.
Rebel leader, Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis is referred to as "President Davis" in Richmond and in most of the South. I am not a fan of Jefferson Davis and will not dignify him with any honorific title. I fully understand that the soldiers like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson had to make tough decisions as to either fight with their neighbors or to forsake their family, friends and homes and fight for the Union.
Jefferson Davis, however, was a seccessionist and became the spokesperson for the treasonous actions of his fellow southern politicians. At taking the oath of office for the confederate presidency he said:
"...the American idea that government rests on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will..."
Such talk is nonsense. Its logical conclusion would be anarchy. And in the case of Davis and his cohorts it meant the most destructive period in American history. The bloodshed was unimaginable and it is my firm belief that it was preventable if cooler heads had prevailed in the southern states.
The tudor style of Agecroft Hall
Agecroft Hall is a portion of a vast Tudor Estate that stood in England for hundreds of years. But it fell into disrepair and hovered over mining concerns. The house was slated for demolision, but the owners decided that maybe it could be sold at auction.
Enter Thomas C. Williams Jr. from Richmond, Virginia, a tobacco and banking heir with money to burn. Williams bought Agecroft Hall and had it disassembled, boxed, put on freighters and shipped to the U.S. It was unboxed, reassembled and voila a genuine Tudor manor came into being on American soil.
The only way to see Agecroft is to take the tour. It is mildly interesting. The rooms that are shown are portrayed as they might have been in 15th or 16th century England. But the artifacts on display were not original to the manor and I guess I'm less than impressed when shown a fake feast with plastic food. The only room that is presented the way it was used by Mr. and Mrs. Williams is the library which is the most interesting room in the house.
the ornate Jefferson Hotel
At the very least consider a walk through of the Jefferson Hotel. Built in 1895 it is a tremendous example of the excesses of the gilded age. The marble pillars, the grand staircase, the stained glass skylight, the tapestries. It is all too much. It is easy to feel as if you are truly stepping back in time when you visit this hotel.
I checked out the prices for a room and it does not seem all that bad. Weekend packages including breakfast can be had for $250 a night. If I ever take Becky to Richmond, I'll probably splurge and stay here. The restaurant on premises, Lemaire, looks fantastic.
Richmond's Old City Hall
I was quite taken with Richmond's Old City Hall. It is remarkably similar to the old city hall building in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, they don't make buildings like this anymore. It seems that there is some sort of law that requires municipal buildings to be sprawling, flat-topped complexes without windows.
Nat wanted to take me to the top of the New City Hall building to get a bird's eye view of Richmond but the day was so gray and gloomy, I didn't think it worth the bother. If you would like to see the view from the top on a sunny day--visit the introduction to Nat's (b1bob) Richmond page.
the famous agronomist Thomas Jefferson
A nice statue of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, at the Jefferson Hotel. Did you know that eight U.S. presidents were born in Virginia? Can you name them?
In the unlikely event that you cannot, here they are:
William Henry Harrison
Silhouetted Stonewall Jackson
It is possible that Stonewall Jackson is more beloved and revered in the South than even the great General Robert E. Lee. Jackson was instrumental in Confederate victories at Antietem, Second Manassas and Chancellorsville.
He obtained his nickname of Stonewall at the First Battle of Manassas (also known as Bull Run). General Barnard Bee coined the name when he was rallying his troops to fight on. He pointed out Jackson and his corps and said, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer." General Bee was prophetic as he did expire as he led his troops in a charge against the federals.
Jackson was mortally injured by friendly fire at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863 and succumbed to those wounds on May 10, 1863. Like many Confederate officers, Jackson was fervently religous. he believed that the war was God's will and that in his role as a Confederate general he was fulfilling his heavenly duty.
Tennis great, Arthur Ashe
Time to delve into that can of worms known as equality for all races.
Arthur Ashe was a Richmond native and one heck of a tennis player and a gentleman. He died way too young from AIDS which he acquired through a blood transfusion. Richmond has every reason to celebrate and honor Arthur Ashe.
Monument Avenue has long been the exclusive home of gargantulan statues commemorating the heroics of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart and Matthew Maury--all Confederate military leaders.
Certainly, Monument Avenue has long been a sore spot for many African Americans. The prominent display of Confederate generals who fought, in part, to maintain the system that enslaved their ancestors is understandably troubling to those who push for equality in this nation.
But is the correct solution a monument to Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue? Why place a tennis professional yielding a tennis raquet on the same avenue as military leaders brandishing swords. Does not this placement diminish Ashe. Jackson, Lee and Stuart would not have been amongst Ashe's historical favorites.
On the flip side, I can understand those that would say, let's turn Monument Avenue into a true expression of heros from all time periods and all walks of life. And I can understand that the placement of Ashe on the Avenue is a shot across the bow of racism.
In the end, I would have to say that the placement of Ashe on this street is incongruous and not aesthetically pleasing. By all means honor Ashe with the greatest of pomp and ceremony. But not in line with those who would have enslaved him had they lived in the same era.
Jeb Stuart on Monument Avenue
Jeb Stuart was the golden boy of the Confederate army. A favorite of General Lee, Stuart was given free reign to plan and lead daring calvary attacks against the more conventional northern infantry based army. Known for his haberdashery and perfectly coifed hair and pointed beard Stuart remains a hero to this day in much of the South. Jeb Stuart was killed at the age of 31 in 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern. Interestingly, he was harassing a unit led by George Custer (who later showed his lack of brilliance at Little Bighorn) when he fell.
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