Made up of smaller neighborhoods including Ginter Park, Barton Heights, Hermitage Road, Highland Park and more; Richmond’s Northside is an area of growth and change that alludes to its ambitious past.
Northside was one of the country’s first ‘Streetcar Suburbs.’ A dream of local philanthropist and former American Tobacco Company Director, Lewis Ginter, Northside came to fruition following Ginter’s plans to build a suburb. His vision is what we now call Ginter Park. With his enormous fortunate, Ginter purchased acres of farmland outside of the city in Henrico County with hopes of building communities for working class commuters. Ginter Park, like other neighborhoods in Northside combines many different architectural styles in its homes such as, Spanish Colonial, American Foursquare, Queen Anne, and more.
Ginter’s community building also included outreach to Union Presbyterian Seminary (formerly Union Theological Seminary until 2009) who eventually moved their campus to Ginter Park. Now Union Presbyterian’s student population is around 300 students from across the country and the world studying theology.
Ginter’s impact did not stop with Ginter Park or even with his death in 1897. Ginter left his finances to his niece Grace Arents. Arents followed in her uncle’s footsteps continuing community outreach, most notably in the Oregon Hill area. However, her lasting affect on Northside is the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. During her lifetime it was known as “Bloemendaal”, where Arents would plant her own gardens and tend to the land. Eventually after her death, the city would use the gardens to better the city, growing trees and various shrubery for other areas across Richmond. In 1984, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens officially opened on the site of former “Bloemendaal”.
Similar to Ginter Park, Barton Heights grew from the idea of land developer James H. Barton. Barton came to Richmond following successful ventures in community development in Arkansas and Tennessee. Like Ginter Park, James Barton rapidly developed Barton Heights on the reliance of streetcars. The neighborhood grew exponentially and in as few as six years became an incorporated town. It was a working class town. Barton’s residence in Barton Heights, “Corner Minor” became famous for its unqiue architecture and its storied history. After Barton’s ownership it would later go on to become a sanitarium, a polio treatment center, then a home for eldery people. Now it has been rennovated with the hopes of soon becoming apartments open to the public.
Today the Valentine leads tours through many of Northside’s neighborhoods. This May join the Valentine on walking tours of Northside.
Union Theological Seminary c. 1890-1920 Cook Collection The Valentine Cook077
Ginter Park School c. Feburary 1916 Cook Collection The Valentine Cook0817
Tulips Bloom in the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens March 27, 1987 Richmond Times-Dispatch V.89.192.259
Ignatius Bluford House c. March 1971 Edith K. Shelton Photograph Collection The Valentine V.91.42.1732
Corner Minor, former residence of James H. Barton c. 2016 The Valentine
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