St. John's Church Historic District
St.John's Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia
|Location||Bounded roughly by 22nd, Marshall, 32nd, Main, and Franklin Sts. and Williamsburg Ave., Richmond, Virginia|
|Area||100 acres (40 ha)|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival, Federal|
|NRHP reference #|| (increase)|
|Added to NRHP||September 15, 1970|
|Boundary increase||January 17, 1991|
|Designated VLR||June 2, 1970; April 17, 1990|
Church Hill, also known as the St. John's Church Historic District, is an Old and Historic District in Richmond, Virginia. This district encompasses the original land plat of the city of Richmond. Church Hill is the eastern terminus of Broad Street, a major east-west thoroughfare in the Richmond metropolitan area. The name Church Hill is often used to describe both the specific historic district and the larger general area in the East End encompassing other neighborhoods such as Union Hill, Chimborazo, Fairmount, Peter Paul, Woodville, etc.
Church Hill is known for Chimborazo Park, where the largest American Civil War Hospital was located. It is also known as the site of Virginia's second revolutionary convention, where Patrick Henry gave his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in St. John's Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia in 1775.
On Friday, October 2, 1925, a 4,000-foot Chesapeake and Ohio railroad single track tunnel built during Reconstruction collapsed under Church Hill. The Church Hill Tunnel collapse occurred during refurbishment works, killing 3 or 4 and engulfing a work train complete with a 4-4-0 engine #231 and 10 flat cars. The tunnel was closed and filled-in after the collapse. In the July 2006, a coalition of officials and historical groups made plans to remove the buried engine. If recovered, it would be displayed at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. Some borings were made into the tunnel from above for examination by camera. Only murky water was found, whereupon further work was delayed by city permitting issues. The bricked-in entrance of the collapsed tunnel can still be seen at the south-east end of the alley just north of Marshall Street, on 18th Street.
In the 1970s, murder rates decreased overall in Richmond, Virginia, but instances of murder in Church Hill doubled.
In recent years, Church Hill has undergone gentrification and now experiences much lower rates of crime than it did in the late 20th century.
Church Hill is home to many small businesses, including restaurants, bars, hair salons, and boutiques. In 2014, Church Hill was named one of the "10 Hot Food Neighborhoods Around the U.S" by Zagat. In 2015, Redfin included Church Hill in a roundup of most walkable neighborhoods in the city--while Richmond was named #9 in their list of Top 10 Most Walkable Mid-Sized Cities.
The Church Hill neighborhood experienced serious physical decline during the 1950s, owing mostly to absentee landlords. The Historic Richmond Foundation was established in 1956 by Elisabeth Scott Bocock out of concern for "saving and enhancing the setting for St. John's Church." In 1957, encouraged in large part by Historic Richmond, City Council created a historic district ordinance while simultaneously adopting the St. John's Church Old and Historic District. The preservation of Church Hill marked the formal beginning of the preservation movement in Richmond.