Old Soldiers’ Home
Year Built: ca. 1885
Architectural Style: Victorian
This charming house located at 2715 Broad Rock Boulevard was originally constructed in 1885 on the current site of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Robert E. Lee Camp, #1, Confederate Veterans Home.
The Confederate Veterans Home was constructed on a 36-acre tract of farmland called The Grove, bound by Boulevard, Grove Ave, Sheppard, and Kensington Ave, now the site of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Between 1885 and 1941, the property was a large complex for poor an infirm Confederate veterans of the Civil War. The camp was built with private funds, including donations from both former Confederate and Union soldiers, including General Ulysses S. Grant.
At its peak occupancy, over 300 veterans were living at the camp, and throughout its use there were over 3,000 veterans that had lived there. The grounds included nine residential cottages, a superintendent’s house, a chapel, barracks, dining hall, hospital, recreation hall, steam plant, administration building, and assorted outbuildings. The Veterans Home remained in operation until the last Veteran passed away in 1941. After that, all the houses were either moved or destroyed, with the exception of the Robinson House and the Chapel.
The cottage now located at 2715 Broad Rock Boulevard was designed by Marion J. Dimmock, who also designed the Chapel and several other cottages at the Veterans Home. It housed 16 residents, or “inmates” as the old soldiers were called. The money for the structure was donated by William Wilson Corcoran of Washington D.C. and the Corcoran Gallery fame, who came to Richmond to inspect it in late May, 1886. Its name, Union Cottage, reflected the substantial contributions to the building of the Soldiers’ Home by Union veterans across the country.
In 1936, after the Confederate Veterans voted to have most of the then-empty cottages razed to save insurance money during the Depression years, the building was purchased for $60 by Ernest Cheatham Meyers and his wife Camilla and moved the following year to 2715 Broad Rock Boulevard. Their nephew, Milton Burke, lived near the Old Soldiers Home and had heard of the plans to tear the house down. He notified his aunt and she asked him to immediately borrow money to purchase the cottage. The home was rebuilt piece by piece using as much of the old doors, stairway, windows and lots of the old woodwork.
In the late twentieth century, the building had been used as retail space for an optical shop. Around 2000, a fire was started in the basement, and in 2002 the building was sold in a foreclosure sale. David Mabon purchased 2715 Broad Road, he had owned and occupied the house 2701 Broad Rock Boulevard. Despite the fire, the house retains a large amount of original material and is intact, even the historic windows are still located beneath the plywood.
The house is currently in the City’s Derelict Buildings program and is threatened with demolition. The owner is willing to give the house away for FREE to anyone that is willing to move it from the site. The owner is also willing to entertain an offer for the house and land, however, no asking price has been set. In addition, the adjacent house located at 2701 Broad Rock Boulevard is also in the Derelict Buildings program and can be packaged together, this house was constructed ca. 1930.
The house is not currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but Historic Richmond believes it could be determined eligible, which would allow for the use of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Please contact us IMMEDIATELY if you are interested in this property.
Update: Demolished. For more information click here.
“History of the Grounds” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Web. Apr. 2017.
Snead, Ruth. “Old Soldiers Home.” The Messenger of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia Number 86 (July 2008): 9-10. Print.
O’Leary, Elizabeth. “Union Cottage.” Message to the author. 17 Apr. 2017. E-mail.
“Into Its New Home.” Richmond Dispatch 12 Jan. 1896: 14. Print.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond, Independent Cities, Virginia. Sanborn Map Company, 1905. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.