Court End originally referred to a residential neighborhood on Shockoe Hill, chiefly north of the capitol, which included churches along Broad Street. Today it includes only the area bounded by East Broad Street on the south, I-95 on the east, and Leigh Street on the north and reaches as far west as 8th Street. After Shockoe Hill was established as the site of the capitol in 1780, many leading citizens began to build their houses nearby. These “plantations-intown,” as Richmond historian Mary Wingfield Scott called them, included several outbuildings and sometimes large gardens. Only one eighteenth-century dwelling (the Marshall House) remains, but several prominent residences and churches have survived from the nineteenth century. Both city and state government began to intrude on the area after the Civil War. The growth of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) over the past 150 years has provided a modern use for many important buildings. Unfortunately, it has also dramatically transformed the scale, density, and character of the neighborhood. Some of Court End's leafy residential streets are now Richmond's worst specimens of urban wind tunnels. MCV has contributed some hulking, unfriendly boxes to the streetscape, and its use of historic structures seems less an endorsement of historic preservation than utilization of the neighborhood's available building stock. The city's unrealized dream of a civic center north of City Hall has contributed to the neighborhood's planning challenges, but the new Library of Virginia and the city's Social Services Building have improved the western portion of Court End in recent years.
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