You are here

Windsor Farms

-A A +A
c. 1925 and later, John Nolen, planner, and others. Bounded on the south by the James River, on the north by Cary St., on the east by the Powhite Pkwy., and on the west by Lock Ln.

One of Richmond's distinguished residential addresses was developed by T. C. Williams, Jr., the owner of the original farm, a prominent Richmonder, and an ardent Anglophile. In the mid-1920s he hired Allen Saville, a local engineer, and John Nolen, a Boston-based landscape architect and planner, to recreate an English village in Virginia. Nolen's previous experience with subdivisions served him well, and the semicircular plan of intersecting streets is as charming as it is confusing to navigate. The early development team eventually included Henry Grant Morse, a New York architect who excelled at the details that articulated Williams's vision.

The plan included a village green and a few public buildings intended to create a sense of community. The land along the river was divided into larger lots than the rest of the tract, and these were developed early. Two of the first houses, Williams's Agecroft Hall and his nextdoor neighbors' Virginia House, were historic English houses that were purchased, dismantled into labeled parts, and shipped across the Atlantic for rebuilding in Virginia. Four of the other houses were designed by William Lawrence Bottomley.

Though Williams envisioned a village with English vernacular architecture, the Georgian image that the period conjured in the minds of the clients and the influence of Colonial Williamsburg overwhelmed Williams's ideas. The development today is dominated by Colonial Revival and Georgian Revival houses, although a scattering of the English vernacular architecture that Williams encouraged offers some variety. The neighborhood was carefully marketed, and many sales brochures extolled the natural beauty of the land and the artistic interpretation of the developers. The author of several early brochures and booklets almost comically embellished the historic importance of the land, at one point writing, “It is land whose every clod and stone could tell a story, if clods and stones could speak.” The landscaping, lighting, brick sidewalks, public spaces, and winding roads were described poetically, and prospective buyers were reassured that a design review committee would rule out any inappropriate plans. The early vision included a tearoom on the village green, staffed by local socialites dressed in appropriate costumes; a small shop that sold crafts created or collected by locals (Morse's idea); and a charming firehouse. Williams sponsored a literary and social magazine, The Black Swan, which followed Richmond's latest fads. It included many essays on the romantic and scenic qualities of the growing community.

Williams's original farmhouse was demolished and replaced in the late 1940s with an uninspired Neo-Georgian house. Windsor Farms has remained the desirable address that Williams envisioned.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
×

Data

What's Nearby

Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Windsor Farms", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-RI336.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 273-274.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,