Petersburg, Virginia

Petersburg is about 20 miles south of Richmond, lying along the Appomatox River, which branches from the James River at Hopewell, formerly City Point. Richmond lies at the "falls" of the James beyond which the river is not passable for deep draft vessels. Petersburg is similarly situated at the falls of the Appomatox.

Petersburg was a thriving market and industrial city before the Civil War. It was under seige for 10 months by Grant's army, and when it fell, Richmond fell and within a few days, Lee surrendered at Appomatox, to the west. Petersburg suffered terribly during the seige, and has never recovered. It is an interesting city for historians and has numerous sites to visit.

We lived in the Walnut Hill section of the city, a neighborhood developed in the early part of the 20th century, during the peak of the "colonial revival" fashion. Our house was at the end of a short dead end street, surrounded on two sides by a deep ravine and creek, in the midst of 100 foot tall trees. The house had been build in 1929 and expanded in the early 1950's. It was quite lovely home and very well built. The yard had curving brick walls and tall trees for summer shade.

The view from the street. The roof is slate and the brick walls are solid, Flemish bond, set upon a poured concrete foundation that had thee foot thick walls. The library is in the right hand section and had a separate entrance. The part to the left was added in the 1950s and included the garage.
The back yard in summer. Lovely to look at, but prime mosquito country. We added some brick raised gardens for herbs and vegetables. The rear half of the yard turned out to be flagstoned patio which was buried under years of leaves and yard waste. We shoveled it out and used the material in the raised beds. The first year, the tomato plants were over 8 feet tall.
Shots of the surrounding woods and yard. The drive took off from the end of the street and entered through two brick pillars and an iron gate. It then circled around the end the house, past curving brick walls with azelea bed in front of them to enter the garage beneath the house. To the right of the house was an old stone wall which appeared to predate the house. We cleared it and rebuilt it.
To the left, the entrance / front door. In the center is the living room and to the right the step down into the dining room. The mantle appeared to have been salvaged from a much older home. We were told that the Walnut Hill neighborhood was largely built in the early 1900s mostly in the colonial revival style, and at the same time, much of the old town was being torn down as the riverfront industrial sections expanded. Many of the homes in Walnut Hill were rumored to have used millwork saved from the demolition. Our house had different hardwood floors in each of the old rooms: the living room had heart-of- pine yellow pine. The dining room was white pine in wide widths, and the library was random width white pine pegged with walnut pegs.

The dining room to the left. This house was the only one we have ever lived in where all our furniture fit exactly, as if designed for the house.

The library was paneled in full thickness walnut boards and had solid walnut doors. The door to the outside had massive brass hardware reproduced from that at the Shirley Plantation, for which the street was named. (Walnut Hill streets were mostly named for early Virginia plantations). The library also had a fireplace and a half bathroom. We were told that the house had been built for/by an attorney who had his office there. We were also told that he had been mayor of Petersburg at some time. That may explain why there were two very old gas street lamps in the backyard. Not operational, however, but we had intended to electrify them someday.

Above and below are pictures from Christmas, 2000
Benji, our stray from OK
Rich and Benji