VA -- Richmond -- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts -- Robinson House:
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- VMFROB_200102_05.JPG: Robinson House
Built ca. 1828, expanded 1856 and 1886
This imposing building began as a one-story summerhouse built in the late 1820s by Richmond banker Anthony Robinson Jr. Expanded in 1856 into a fashionable Italianate mansion, it became a year-round residence for the Robinson family. Their enslaved laborers lived in nearby cabins. Following the end of the Civil War in April 1865, then-widowed Rebecca Robinson invited Union officers to occupy the house to ward off possible looting by soldiers encamped nearby.
In 1884 the couple's son Channing sold the residence and thirty-six acres to a newly formed Confederate veterans' organization to build the R.E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers' Home. Two years later, the building -- renamed Fleming Hall -- gained a third floor and towering belvedere. For the next half century, it housed the institution's administration offices and war museum.
After the soldiers' home closed, the Commonwealth of Virginia granted use of the building to the Virginia Institute for Scientific Research (1949- 1963) and to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (1964-present), which gained ownership in 1993. Following extensive renovations in 2017, it incorporates a tourism center, offices, and an exhibition space.
In the first half of the 20th century, parcels of land at the soldiers' home were granted to erect the Confederate Memorial Institute (1921, "Battle Abbey," later absorbed by the Virginia Historical Society); Home for Confederate Women (1932); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (1936); and headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (1957). In 1934, the state named the grounds the R.E. Lee Camp Confederate Memorial Park -- a designation that remains today.
Members of the Robinson family assemble in front of their two-story mansion in this photograph taken around 1880. They named their estate "The Grove" for its extensive stand of oak trees. Photo: The Valentine
This 1914 postcard view of Robinson House, taken from the direction of the Boulevard, also pictures the soldiers' home hospital (far right) and Pegram Hall (center right), as well as some of the residential cottages (far left). Photo: VFMA Archives
A favorite attraction in the soldiers' home museum was Stonewall Jackson's horse, Little Sorrel, who died on the grounds in 1886. The horse's preserved and mounted hide was on display -- as seen in this 1932 photograph alongside veteran J.C. Smith -- until its move to the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington in 1949. It remains on view there today. Photo: Dementi Studios
- VMFROB_200102_11.JPG: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Richmond Region Tourism Center | Across Time Exhibition
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