Built in 1860-61 as a place of refuge for the city’s poor, the Richmond Almshouse is an impressive monument to the reform movement that originated in the antebellum period. Designed by Richmond city engineer Washington Gill, the Italianate structure replaced an older poorhouse built before 1810. Gill gave the new building a striking outline by using three pedimented pavilions. The Almshouse served during the Civil War as the first major hospital of the Confederacy and later as a temporary home for the Virginia Military Institute. The institutional use of the Almshouse eventually ceased, and the building was sold by the city for private development. It was renovated in 1984-85 to house apartments for low-income elderly residents. Included on The Almshouse property is the 1908 West Building, erected to house the city’s indigent Blacks and also renovated for housing the elderly.
A 1989 boundary increase for The Almshouse included the West Building, historically associated with the other three buildings on The Almshouse property. The main portion of the West Building appears to date from 1908. Its function was that of a charity hospital for African American residents of Richmond.
[VLR Listed: 5/15/1989; NRHP Listed: 6/13/1990]
The Almshouse is the most imposing Italianate building in the city of Richmond. The Almshouse property today contains four contributing buildings: the Almshouse Building (1860-1861), the Garage (c.1899-1905), the West Building (c.1908-1929), and the Administration Building (1926-1928), and one noncontributing building, the Boiler Room (1946). In 2020, the National Register nomination for The Almshouse was updated to clarify the period of significance of those five buildings within the previously delineated historic boundaries. The Almshouse is also a contributing building within the Shockoe Hill Burial Ground Historic District.
[NRHP Accepted: 5/15/2020]
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