A casual walk around the Fan or Museum District can transport you back a hundred years, when Anglophilia had taken hold and Richmond’s architectural community was abuzz with the Tudor Revival.
Also known as mock Tudor, the architectural style was a revisitation of the characteristics common before and during the Tudor period in England (1485-1603). Common features of the style include steeply pitched or cross-gabled roofs, decorative half-timbering, prominent chimneys, narrow windows with multiple panes, and patterned stone or brickwork.
Although the revival took hold in Europe in the late 19th century, it didn’t start in force in Richmond until the construction of the Branch House. Now home to the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, the Branch House was designed by John Russell Pope and completed in 1919, making it one of the oldest examples of the Tudor and Jacobean Revival style in Virginia.
Two Richmond manors — conveniently next-door neighbors — can trace their roots directly back to the Tudor era.
Agecroft Hall’s structure dates back to the late 15th century, when it stood in Lancashire, England. Over four centuries later, it was deteriorating. A Richmond businessman and his wife bought the building at auction in 1925, dismantled it, and transported the pieces to their property overlooking the James River.
The Virginia House was built from the materials of a 16th century English home called the Priory. Alexander and Virginia Weddell combined three Tudor designs when they moved the home across the Atlantic and constructed the west and east wings upon its arrival.
Another example of the Tudor Revival is the English Village, a multi-family complex in the Museum District designed by local architect Bascom Joseph Rowlett. The planned community was centered around a courtyard set back from the street.
The Tudor Revival mostly died down around in 1929, when the stock market crash halted building projects around the city. The revival was an attractive option for architects of the 1920s, both for historic mansions and more modern approaches to middle class living — and it’s still visible around the River City today.