Three museums spark thought, conversation.
Two trails commemorate history.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Richmond, Virginia is located within a day’s drive of half the U.S. population and is easily accessible from I-64, I-85, I-95 and I-295.
Need an excuse to visit? The Richmond region boasts more than 80 attractions. Here’s a sampling of just some of what it has to offer inquiring minds.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit England during the Tudor and Stuart periods (1485-1650), you don’t need a passport or a time machine. There’s no need to jet overseas to tour an authentic historic English manor, just get to Richmond, Va. In 1926, this historic building was rescued from destruction in Lancashire, England, disassembled, shipped across the Atlantic to its new home, and rebuilt where it’s now surrounded by 23 acres of landscaped grounds. This is no replica: This is the real deal. The house was built in Lancashire in the late 15th Century and served as a home for 100 years. The collection of genuine English furnishings dating from 1485 to 1660 is considered one of the finest in North America. Tour guides are enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
Edgar Allan Poe Museum
This place tells the tale of the famed author’s heart, and home. Called one of the “10 great literary sites in America” by USA Today and the “most authentic American experience in Virginia” by Time magazine, the museum documents Edgar Allan Poe’s life and career accomplishments in exhibits rich with pictures, relics, and verse. Located blocks away from Poe’s first Richmond home and his first place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger, the museum boasts the world’s best collection of Poe’s manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia, and personal belongings. Whether you’re an avid fan of the man called “America’s Shakespeare” or only vaguely remember his short stories that were assigned reading in high school, you’ll learn something new about the master of the macabre plus get a glimpse at life in 19th Century Richmond. The museum is inside the oldest house still standing in Richmond, which is estimated to have been built in 1737.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is considered one the top 10 comprehensive art museums in the U.S. The permanent collection includes more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. It’s home to the largest display of Fabergé Russian Imperial eggs outside of Russia, and that’s not the only collection worth bragging about: It’s considered to have among the best Art Nouveau, Art Deco, English silver, and South Asia art collections in the U.S., plus much more from throughout history and around the world. If you have a favorite period or style of art, you can head straight to it. Or if, like me, you’re generally curious and/or even a bit unsure about what’s what, here’s a place to wander around and learn the distinctions between Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary and so on. Read the signs or talk to docents to learn more about what you’re looking at and what makes the works remarkable.
@21plusTravel Tip: While here, be sure to drink and/or dine at Amuse.
Drive or walk down Monument Avenue, the only street in the U.S. that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A series of statues along the landmark boulevard memorialize Virginia natives such as Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and more. Homes and buildings along the route form a stunning architectural backdrop.
The Richmond Slave Trail chronicles the history of the trade of enslaved Africans from Africa to Virginia until 1775. Interpretive signs for a self-guided tour begin at the Manchester Docks, the major port where slaves arrived, and continue to Shockoe Bottom, where slaves were bought and sold. Guided tours can be scheduled through the Elegba Folklore Society.
- Richmond was the first test market for the first canned beer, produced by Krueger Brewing Co. in 1935.
- Richmond is the only U.S. city with a Triple Crossing, which is where three train tracks cross above one another.
- Richmond introduced the first electric-powered streetcar system in 1887.
- Richmond is the only U.S. city to offer Class IV whitewater rafting in an urban setting.
- Richmond is the only U.S. capital city with bald eagles nesting within city limits.
- Richmond was named for the view of James River from Libby Hill, because it closely resembles the view of River Thames from a royal village west of London, England called Richmond upon Thames.
- Historic Richmond serves as the backdrop in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning movie Lincoln.
- Two U.S. Presidents are buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery: James Monroe and John Tyler; Confederate President Jefferson Davis is also buried there.
- One quarter off all the American Civil War’s battles and 60 percent of its casualties occurred within a 75-mile radius of Richmond.
4305 Sulgrave Road
Richmond, Virginia 23221
@21plusTravel Tip: Agecroft Hall will host a “Shakespeare’s Birthday” celebration on April 25, 2015.
Edgar Allan Poe Museum
1914 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23223
@21plusTravel Tip: Be sure to leave sufficient time in your itinerary to browse the gift shop, which is packed with treasures both highbrow and prankster.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
200 N. Boulevard
Richmond, Virginia 23220
@21plusTravel Tip: See the special exhibit “Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower” March 21-June 21, 2015. “Rodin” comes from Paris November 21, 2015-March 13, 2016.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.