Critical to the movement of wealthy patrons to this area of West Franklin Street was the construction of this elaborate house by tobacco magnate Lewis Ginter. Ginter was a northern entrepreneur who came to Richmond after the Civil War and, through real estate development, became one of the wealthiest men in Virginia.
The opulent Jefferson Hotel was one of his projects. His investment in this richly appointed home demonstrates both the exclusive character of this neighborhood and Ginter's boundless enthusiasm for his adopted hometown. The house set the standard for the neighborhood, and evidence suggests that it was the most expensive home built in the state until that time. From the rough-finished brownstone base to the Spanish tile roof, Washington architect Harvey L. Page spared no expense in carrying out this important commission, with a result described in 1892 as “free and imposing in its architecture.” There are distinctively Richardsonian influences in the dark brownstone and brick used in the construction, as well as in the round arch at the carriage entrance on the east side of the house. A handsomely detailed porch decorates the front of the building between the square and polygonal bays. Remarkably, much of the lavish original decoration of the house still exists, despite its use for university offices for more than sixty years.