VMFA Robinson House named historic landmark

Built in the 1840s, the Robinson House adjacent to the VMFA was named a Virginia Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Photo by Annie Agee.

Sarah King
Staff Writer

The former home of Confederate veterans is now recognized as a national historic place and will open as the new visitor center for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in September 2015.

The Robinson House is a historic property of the VMFA, originally built in the 1840s by Anthony Robinson, a prominent Richmond banker and slave owner. Following Robinson’s death, the house became the headquarters for Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home, a residential complex for Confederate veterans.

“In Virginia we’re very proud of our heritage, and this building has such a distinguished history that deserves to be noted and recognized,” said Suzanne Hall, a VMFA spokesperson.

A unanimous vote at the quarterly meeting of Virginia Board of Historic Resources and the Virginia State Review Board this past September designated the house as a Virginia Historic Landmark. The nomination was then forwarded to the National Park Service for review, which approved the vote in early Febuary. VMFA director Alex Nyerges said he was pleased with the historic status given to the building.

“I am delighted that scholarly research has resulted in the Robinson House becoming a National Historic Place,” Nyerges said. “Besides operating a world-class art museum, we also have a deep respect for the history of the land and the buildings which the Virginia Museum is charged to protect and preserve.”

The Robinson House is currently under construction to prepare for the visitor center opening later this year. Hall said the visitor center is an ideal starting point for Richmond visitors because it is easily accessible from the interstate and is within walking distance of multiple other historic attractions.

“(The Museum District) is a beautiful neighborhood,” Hall said. “In addition, Robinson House will have a gallery that interprets the property on which this museum is situated, tracing the entire history and certainly the Civil War history.”

Glave & Holmes’ Cultural Studio is undertaking the project of revitalizing Robinson House to include the gallery and ready the building for tourists.

“Robinson House has multifaceted significance through its distinctive architecture and its compelling social and cultural history,” stated the National Park Service website about the recently added historic place.

VMFA is open 365 days a year and admission is free. The Robinson House and the museum are located on 200 N. Boulevard.

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