The first of a number of private and speculative developments outlying Richmond’s Northside, the town of Barton Heights was touted as a haven for the renter class of managers and clerks, for whom easy terms would finance first houses and electric rail service would give quick access to the city center. With growth sparked by the 1890 construction of the First Street Viaduct, the town of Barton Heights was a rapid success, first being incorporated as a town in Henrico in 1896 and later being annexed into the city of Richmond in 1914. The community prospered as a middle-class neighborhood through the middle of the 20th century.
The town enjoyed fresh water from wells and a reservoir original known as Mitchell’s Spring, a local gathering place prior to the development of Barton Heights. The well later became part of James Barton’s estate known as “Corner Minor”, home to the neighborhood’s iconic mansion at 2112 Monteiro Street. Due to a depressed economy and poor financial decisions, Barton had a difficult time repaying loans he owed and, hounded by creditors and allegations of financial improprieties, Barton fled Virginia in February 1896.
Corner Minor then became the property of W. P. Veitch, a granolithic paving contractor, throughout the 1900s and 191Os. The property later became a sanitarium for unwed mothers. The most recent legitimate use of the property was as the Terrace Hill Nursing Home, and has been for sale since the adult living facility shut down in 2000.
Another grand house stood immediately behind Corner Minor but it was demolished in recent years.
At the invite of a representative of the current owners, I was able to get in and tour the now-boarded up property alongside Phil Riggans from richmond.com, keep an eye out for his take on the visit.
The structure is in advanced decay, appearing as if it has been vacant much longer than 12 years. The 15,000 square foot building goes on and on, room after room, for the most part cleared of any sense of history. There are some signs of semi-recent illicit use – trash, bottle, graffiti, feces, spooky artwork – most the atmosphere is for the most part quiet, sad, and rotten. There are holes from water damage on the first floor, where rain has down from the leaky roof on the 2nd floor. There is a carpet of peeled paint and dropped plaster. A small office towards the front has a box of unused time cards and phone message slips from Terrace Hill Nursing Home, with employee memos posted from 1999.
Upstairs, towards the back, a wall has been painted and found objects have been arranged in what is self-described as an “installation by ladyshade and zion”. The initial impact of turning the corner in this particular environment and coming across the red paint and hung sheets and coats is unnerving.
The house is for sale. If you’ve got a few million dollars and a specific idea, this could all be yours…
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