A Quest for Color and Light

Richmond Travel Blog

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Richmond from Church Hill

Susan I planned to spend all of Friday in Richmond. On the agenda was Maymont, a historic house and park. The mansion has a large Tiffany window we wanted to see as a follow-up to our museum visit on Thursday. But, the Maymont tour was not until Noon. I suggested we see St. John's Church, the historic church where Patrick Henry spoke in 1775. A nice follow-up to the Patrick Henry sites we'd seen at Hanover Court House and Scotchtown last September. It was easy to get there from Short Pump. After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and headed on West Broad Street towards downtown. Broad Street would take us through downtown and then up Church Hill directly to St. John's Church in one of Richmond's oldest neighborhoods.

Revolutionary War historical marker on Church Hill
There was ample street parking. We walked through the gate and I began taking photos of the church and churchyard. It was very quiet on the grounds, though a few people were about. We found the church's visitor center and had a most enjoyable conversation with the man and woman operating it. They suggested we visit St. Paul's Church downtown to see its Tiffany stained glass windows. The man was in colonial costume and I was able to get a photo. The church offers tours of the interior for a fee, but we did not take the tour. There are interesting associations with Edgar Allen Poe, we learned. His girlfriend (Elmira Royster) lived across the street in a house that is still standing and his mother is buried in the churchyard. (Poe grew up in Richmond with a foster family after his mother died.
St. John's Episcopal Church (1741)
 Elmira's family opposed her friendship with Poe, but he met her again just before his death.)

We added St. Paul's to the day's agenda, but headed first for Maymont to be in time for the tour. Maymount was not easy to find, even following its published directions and with several Richmond maps in hand. Mr. and Mrs. Dooley who had owned it certainly lived in seclusion! It was another hot day, though not record setting as Thursday had been. We needed to walk a short way in from the parking lot past former stables, estate buildings, and gardens to reach the mansion. Maymont is a house from the Gilded Age of tycoons and financiers, built to impress. We purchased tickets for the Noon Tiffany Tour and looked at the "below stairs" rooms and displays while we waited.

St. John's Church (1741)
The Tiffany Tour was small, only one other couple and us and led by the decorative arts curator. She certainly knew her material and was able to tell us all about the house and its interior. (The house had been left to city in 1925 and, aside from conservation work, is as the Dooley's left it.) It was interesting to see a Tiffany vase in situ, a willowy Art Nouveau object among the plush and overstuffed decor. But the highlight was the Tiffany stained glass window between the first and second floors. It was installed so that only the Dooloeys could fully enjoy it, from a second floor vantage point. The sun shown right though it, illuminating the colors. We were able to get up close to the window to see the glass beaded jewel work and Drapery Glass of the figures.
Elmira (Royster) Shelton house
No photos, unfortunately.

It was hot, as I've mentioned, and there has been little rain. The Maymont grounds were looking parched and the gardens not as abundant as they might have been. It was now time for lunch, and we headed back to Buzz and Ned's for more of the excellent barbecue!

Following lunch, we made out way over to St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The church is located adjacent to the State Capitol grounds, but street parking could be found on a Friday afternoon. The church was open and we went in. Now here was a sight! The church contains twelve large stained glass windows on two levels and several smaller ones, nine produced by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co., the rest by other designers and firms. The bright afternoon sun shone through the large windows, illuminating them all.

Houses on Church Hill
This was a trove of color and light for sure! Even more amazing, one could inspect the windows at close range and take photos of them.  (Consider that the windows are worth a fortune.) Everything we'd learned about Tiffany glass could be observed in these windows. At the front of the church, above the altar was another Tiffany piece. A glass mosaic of The Last Supper.

As the church was right next to Capitol Square, I wanted to take some time for photos there. The Virginia State Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 inspired by a classic Roman temple. It makes an imposing sight on Shockoe Hill, Jefferson's temple of laws and government. (The two wings for the state Senate and House of Delegates were added in 1904.

Maymont mansion (1892)
) On Capitol Square are statues of famous Virginians, with the George Washington Equestrian Monument the largest. Dedicated in 1858, the monument also includes statues of other notables including Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Mason.

Time to leave at 4:00 p.m., before rush hour, after an enjoyable two days in Richmond. We followed US Highway 1 from Ashland up to Fredericksburg, made a stop there for ice cream at Carl's, and were home by 7:00 p.m. 

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Richmond from Church Hill
Richmond from Church Hill
Revolutionary War historical marke…
Revolutionary War historical mark…
St. Johns Episcopal Church (1741)
St. John's Episcopal Church (1741)
St. Johns Church (1741)
St. John's Church (1741)
Elmira (Royster) Shelton house
Elmira (Royster) Shelton house
Houses on Church Hill
Houses on Church Hill
Maymont mansion (1892)
Maymont mansion (1892)
Turretted Richmond Victorian
Turretted Richmond Victorian
St. Pauls Church (1845)
St. Paul's Church (1845)
St. Peters Catholic Church (1834)
St. Peter's Catholic Church (1834)
Virginia State Capitol
Virginia State Capitol
Bell Tower (1825)
Bell Tower (1825)
Virginia State Capitol
Virginia State Capitol
Edar Allen Poe statue on Capitol S…
Edar Allen Poe statue on Capitol …
State of Governor William Extra B…
State of Governor William "Extra …
George Washington Equestrian Monum…
George Washington Equestrian Monu…
Old City Hall
Old City Hall
Richmond Sights & Attractions review
Art, Glass and History at St. Paul's
St. Paul's Church is a historic Episcopal church in downtown Richmond. The Greek Revival building was the largest church in Virginia when it was compl… read entire review
Richmond Sights & Attractions review
A Gilded Age Mansion and Gardens at Maymont
Maymont was the suburban Richmond mansion and estate of James and Sarah (May) Dooley. The couple lived at Maymont from from 1893 to 1925 and willed th… read entire review
Richmond Sights & Attractions review
The Revolutionary Church
St. John's Episcopal Church is famous as the place where Patrick Henry delivered his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech at the Second Virginia … read entire review
Richmond
photo by: tj1777