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William McKenney House

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1890–1892, Harrison Waite. 250 S. Sycamore St.

The best representative of the wealth of the Gilded Age in Petersburg is this magnificent two-and-a-half-story brick house in the Poplar Lawn neighborhood. Laid out in 1809, Poplar Lawn was a southern extension of Robert Bolling Jr.'s development (see DW40) and includes Central Park, which the city acquired in 1846. This house was built for the era's leading Southside attorney and Democratic Party leader, William McKenney. In his search for a sumptuous design, McKenney apparently overcame any reluctance he might have had to employ Waite, who was a Readjuster. For his political foe, Waite designed a fabulous house that included many of the era's fashionable elements, including a circular corner tower, an Eastlake front porch, extensive use of leaded and stained glass, ornamented terra-cotta recessed panels, and elaborately carved interior woodwork and fireplaces flanked by Italian tiles.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee

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