Preservation

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Monumental Church Interior
Main Photo: Monumental Church. Taken from the archives of Historic Richmond Foundation. (photo by Richard C. Cheek)

Monumental Church

Located at 1224 E. Broad Street, Monumental Church was designed by Robert Mills, America’s first native born architect. Constructed in 1814, the structure is a memorial to the 72 individuals that died in the Richmond Theater Fire of 1811. Monumental Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark in 1969. It resides in Richmond’s historic Court End, slightly north of Shockoe Slip and west of Church Hill.

Monumental Church is unique for many reasons. It was most notably designed during the Neoclassic period, and is one of the earliest and best examples of Greek revival architecture in the United States. Mills was the only architectural pupil of Thomas Jefferson. In his design, Mills adaptively used a Delorme dome from notes which Jefferson had taken during his tenure in France as the French Ambassador. The ashes of those who died in the Richmond Theatre Fire of 1811 are buried in a crypt beneath the floorboards of the Church. Famous parishioners included Chief Justice John Marshall and Edgar Allan Poe.

Monumental Church

Since acquiring the landmark from the Medical College of Virginia Foundation in 1983, HRF has spent several million dollars on its restoration. So far, Historic Richmond Foundation has stabilized the roof, removed all Portland Cement from the building, white washed the exterior, restored the grounds, installed HVAC, completed an interior paint analysis of the sanctuary, repaired the plaster throughout the sanctuary, painted the sanctuary walls, woodwork, and pulpit, and moved the original monument to storage and had an exact replica produced. The organization hopes that it will become an important gathering place for the Richmond community. Monumental Church is truly a National Treasure.

The Monument Replication Project
In April 2003, Direct Dimensions, Inc. (DDI) from Baltimore Maryland performed a high accuracy/high resolution 3D laser scan of the Monument in situ. This portable 3D laser scanning system achieved a highly detailed 3D model of the monument. After the scans were taken, a team from Preservations Trades Company and John Milner Associates, Inc. (JMA) dismantled the Monument. Severely deteriorated sections of the Monument were coated with a consolidant to prevent further erosion during the dismantling and packing process. Once each piece was removed it was placed in custom-made museum grade storage boxes.

The data that DDI gathered from the scan was analyzed using advanced modeling software to examine the existing information, duplicate, repair and modify the deteriorated and missing areas of the Monument. The replica was then sculpted by S. McConnell & Sons, a family run company in Kilkeel, Ireland. S. McConnell & Sons has nearly seventy years experience in machining granite, limestone, marble and sandstone. The company's most well know project is the Princess Diana memorial in Hyde Park, London.

The process developed by DDI and JMA for the replication of the Monument is cutting edge technology. Similar problems with other outdoor sculptures and monuments are happening around the world. DDI owner Michael Raphael and Mike Lengyel from JMA presented their work on the Monument to The Restoration & Renovation Exhibition and Conference in Boston, Massachusetts on April 22, 2004. Their presentation shared with conference participants the unique method and technology used to replicate the Monument. DDI has used their scanning and replication technology at locations including the Liberty Bell, the Lincoln Memorial and the Parthenon.

Open for tours by request only.
$50 per group Monday - Friday.
$100 per group Saturday - Sunday.

Thanks to a generous donation by Betty Moore and in kind donation by ORC Grounds, Inc., Monumental Church now has a beautiful garden to match the interior of the Church. See here!

Formal Photography Sessions: $100.00 (for 2 hour maximum use) Photo sessions will be scheduled Monday through Friday. Contact the office at 804-643-7407 to schedule your photography session. If you are already holding your event at Monumental Church, there is no charge for the session.