A familiar landmark in the southwest corner of the Virginia State Capitol Square in Richmond, the Bell Tower was built in 1824 as a guardhouse and signal tower for the Public Guard. Levi Swain, its contractor and presumably its designer, gave the otherwise plain brick structure a liveliness with the use of a blind arch on each elevation and a fanciful cupola topped by a fish weathervane. The tower’s bell sounded in 1861 to warn of the approach of the Federal gunboat Pawnee, and again in 1864 to sound the alarm for Dahlgren’s raid. During the administration of Governor John N. Dalton, the tower served as the office of the lieutenant governor. In 1982 it was converted to a visitors’ center for the Virginia Division of Tourism. Its bell still rings to call members of the General Assembly to session.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark
DHR has secured permanent legal protection for over 700 historic places - including 15,000 acres of battlefield lands
DHR has erected 2,532 highway markers in every county and city across Virginia
DHR has engaged over 450 students in 3 highway marker contests
DHR has stimulated more than $4.2 billion dollars in private investments related to historic tax credit incentives, revitalizing communities of all sizes throughout Virginia