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Hill House Museum

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c. 1807. c. 1820–1830, portico addition. c. 1850, hyphen and interior remodeling. c. 1900–1910, dormers and rear porch. 1974, restoration. 221 North St. Open to the public
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • Hill House Museum (Richard Guy Wilson)

The rapid shifts in nineteenth-century architectural taste are well represented in the Hill House Museum. Built for Colonel John Thompson and later the home of his adopted son, John Thompson Hill, and his descendants, this was initially a two-and-one-half-story, sidepassage Federal town house on a high basement with a freestanding two-story kitchen at the rear. A Greek Revival portico was added to the main entrance around 1820. The interior of the house was remodeled in the Italianate mode at mid-century with elaborate plasterwork and mantelpieces. The staircase layout was retained in the remodeling, but ornate balusters and wide railings were installed. One section of the delicate Federal railing remains near the top, providing a rather vivid contrast. Probably at mid-century the main house and the kitchen were joined at the first level above the basement. Finally, around 1900, dormers were added to the roof to give the house a quasi-colonial appearance. Converted to a museum under the auspices of the Portsmouth Historical Association, it is presented as a midtwentieth-century house representing the period when the last members of the Hill family lived there.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Hill House Museum", [Portsmouth, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 448-449.

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