The Valentine Richmond History Center & 1812 John Wickham House Ranks 46th in Virginia’s Favorite Architecture Poll


The Valentine Richmond History Center and the 1812 John Wickham House are both featured in an exhibition of the top 100 structures at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA — The votes are in and the people have spoken. The Virginia Center for Architecture announces today that the Valentine Richmond History Center and 1812 John Wickham House came in 46th in a public poll to identify Virginia’s Favorite Architecture. The survey, which garnered nearly 30,000 votes, found that Virginians chose buildings that evoke powerful emotions and memories as their favorites. Universities and Thomas Jefferson claim most of the top 10, with an historic church and an iconic airport thrown into the mix.

“Keeping in mind that favorite doesn’t necessarily mean best, the results make it clear that we forge deep personal connections to architecture,” says Virginia Center for Architecture Executive Director Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA; “Buildings that hold sentimental value for us are just as meaningful as those that are considered to hold great architectural or historical significance.”

The Valentine Richmond History Center is located at 1015 E. Clay St. in the Court End district. The museum’s founder, Mann S. Valentine Jr., bequeathed his personal collection of art and artifacts to the city in 1892, along with ownership of the 1812 John Wickham House. With its focus on the history of Richmond and the people who shaped it, the history center offers changing exhibits, tours and a research library. Displays include decorative and industrial arts, paintings, prints, manuscripts and books. Complementing these artifacts are more than half a million photographs of the city and the surrounding area. In the Fall of 2014, the museum will feature a dynamic exhibit of the city’s 400 years of history titled “This is Richmond, Virginia.”

The 1812 John Wickham House was built by John and Elizabeth Wickham, one of Richmond’s wealthiest couples. Guided tours of the house address the lives of numerous residents including the Wickhams’ many children and enslaved servants. The elegant house, with its magnificent freestanding stairway, rare neoclassical wall paintings and carved ornamentation, typifies late Federal architecture. The second floor of the home features an exhibit that explores the Valentine family’s collecting enterprises, Valentine’s Meat Juice and ways in which the museum’s interpretation of Richmond’s history has evolved.

An exhibition titled Virginia’s Favorite Architecture opens on Thursday, April 10 at the Virginia Center for Architecture and highlights each of the 100 structures identified as Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. The exhibition runs through Oct. 19.

The Top 10

  1. Sweet Briar House, Sweet Briar College, c. 1790 — Joseph Crews, Sweet Briar, Va.
  2. Monticello, c. 1770 — Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Va.
  3. Burruss Hall, Virginia Tech, 1936 — William Carneal and J. Ambler Johnston, AIA of Carneal, Johnston, and Wright, Architects and Engineers, Blacksburg, Va.
  4. LUMENHAUS, Virginia Tech, 2009 — Center for Design Research, Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design, CAUS, Blacksburg, Va.
  5. The Academical Village, University of Virginia, 1822 — Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Va.
  6. War Memorial Chapel and Pylons, Virginia Tech, 1960 — Roy F. Larson, FAIA of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston, & Larson, Blacksburg, Va.
  7. Washington Dulles International Airport, 1962 — Eero Saarinen and Associates, Chantilly, Va.
  8. Moss Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech, 2013 — Snøhetta, Blacksburg, Va.
  9. Christ Church, 1773 — Col. James Wren, Alexandria, Va.
  10. Poplar Forest, 1809 — Thomas Jefferson, Forest, Va.

About the Top 100
The top 100 structures identified as Virginia’s Favorite Architecture are a diverse mix, spanning a variety of architectural styles, types, and periods. They represent Virginia’s rich history and showcase the state’s many architectural treasures — both innovative and traditional.

  • Virginia’s Favorite Architecture: By the Numbers
  • Thomas Jefferson is the architect appearing most frequently on the list, with 6 structures
  • There are 7 places of worship on the list
  • Schools and universities own or operate 12 structures on the list
  • 1 structure hasn’t even been built yet: The VCU Institute for Contemporary Art
  • Nearly all of the structures are cultural destinations: either museums, historic homes, memorials or entertainment venues
  • The Richmond region boasts the most structures on the list with 32; the Blue Ridge region claims 23 (with 6 in the top 10); Northern Virginia has 18; the Hampton region has 16; and Central Virginia holds 11

About the Poll
At the end of 2013, the Virginia Center for Architecture and the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects conducted a public survey to determine Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. Visitors to were invited to choose their favorites from among 250 buildings, bridges, monuments, and memorials. The structures were nominated by architects to represent Virginia’s rich architectural heritage. The “people’s choice” poll was not scientific. “Social media and alumni networks can have a measurable effect on public polls like this one,” says Rhea George, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Virginia Center for Architecture. “We tried to even the playing field a bit by allowing only one set of votes per IP address.”

About the Exhibition
An exhibition titled Virginia’s Favorite Architecture opens on Thursday, April 10 at the Virginia Center for Architecture and highlights each of the 100 structures identified as Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. It is on view at the Virginia Center for Architecture through Oct. 19, 2014. The exhibition was designed by Roberto Ventura with curatorial support from Lauren Bell and Julie Pence.

About the Opening Reception
Virginia’s Favorite Architecture premieres on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at the Virginia Center for Architecture with an Opening Reception from 4:30–7:30 p.m. The reception is free, but space is limited and reservations are recommended. Register online at or by phone to (804) 644-304, ext. 100. Virginia’s Favorite Architecture is on view through Oct. 19, 2014.

About the Guest Curator
Roberto L. Ventura has practiced and taught modern and sustainable design in Virginia and North Carolina for 15 years. A member of a number of local teams earning design awards from AIA Richmond and the James River Green Building Council, his work has also been exhibited nationally through the HOME House Project sponsored by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. For the international light art exhibit InLight Richmond 2009, he collaborated with poet Joshua Poteat on the installation “for gabriel,” winning Best in Show.

While maintaining his practice, roberto ventura design studio, Ventura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Interior Design in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has also taught Interior Architecture at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, and has lectured at the University of Oulu, in Oulu, Finland. Ventura holds a Master’s in Architecture from Miami University and a B.A. in Math and Physics from Albion College. He earned his LEED AP accreditation in 2008 and his NCIDQ certification in 2012.

About Virginia Celebrates Architecture
The Virginia’s Favorite Architecture exhibition is part of a year-long observance called Virginia Celebrates Architecture recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. Throughout the year, members of the American Institute of Architects in Virginia will join their neighbors and the Virginia Center for Architecture in community exercises intended to instill a greater appreciation for proper stewardship of the Commonwealth’s built and natural environment.

About the Virginia Center for Architecture
The Virginia Center for Architecture is located in the Branch House at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District. The Center is dedicated to developing the understanding of the power and importance of architecture through programs, exhibitions, and its stewardship of an historic landmark. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Learn more at

About the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects
The Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects is a professional association representing nearly 2,500 members. Founded by 5 architects in 1914, the Virginia Society AIA has represented the professional interests of architects and allied professionals in the Commonwealth of Virginia for 100 years. For more information, contact the Virginia Society at (804) 644-3041 or visit



Valentine Richmond History Center
Domenick Casuccio
(804) 649-0711 ext. 322

Virginia Center for Architecture
Media Contact: Rhea George
(804) 237-1768
Public Information
(804) 644-3041