The Shockoe Hill Burying Ground Historic District in Richmond emerged following the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in the late 18th century. It embodies the city’s assumption of responsibilities for the medical and housing needs of the poor, for treatment and isolation facilities for victims of epidemics, and for burial of its residents. The city first laid out the original 28.5-acre parcel in 1799 for the purpose of establishing “a public burying ground for white persons,” and continued to expand the plot throughout the 19th century. The Shockoe tract encompasses three major properties previously listed in the National Register of Historic Places: The Almshouse, Shockoe Hill Cemetery, and Hebrew Cemetery. Additionally, three newly identified sites—the City Hospital and Colored Almshouse Site, the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground, and the City Powder Magazine Site—are contributing resources to the district.
Aerial imagery of the City Hospital/Colored Almshouse archaeological site indicates evidence of substantial subsurface architectural features from the buildings that once stood there. The City Powder Magazine Site has not been archaeologically tested, and its integrity as an arsenal or magazine reflects its intentional destruction in 1865 and subsequent efforts to cover and fill the site to its present condition. The Shockoe Hill Burying Ground Historic District has integrity of setting and feeling that are the result of its historic function as a cemetery for African American Richmonders, as well as its subsequent erasure from public memory and redevelopment during the 20th century. This African Burying Ground’s integrity of design, materials, and workmanship was altered or destroyed by construction of incompatible transportation and commercial resources from the late-19th to mid-20th century.
The Shockoe Hill Burying Ground Historic District’s contributing resources reflect patterns and changes in social and racial relationships, the impacts of war, medical practices and education, and the construction of historical memory. The District serves as a key example of the kinds of municipal design forces that reshaped cities across the early republic.
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
View of the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground from the Hebrew Cemetery --- Photo credit: Dan Mouer, 2021