Richmond: Discovering Virginia’s Capital on the James



September 22-25, 2022


WILLIAMSBURG September 21-22
PETERSBURG September 25

Richmond has played a prominent role in the events that have shaped American history. Discover important stories of our nation’s founding values and enduring contradictions while exploring this storied city. Founded in 1742, Richmond came to prominence after succeeding Williamsburg as the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This vibrant community on the James River features impressive art and architecture that embody its complex histories. We enjoy significant sites and collections throughout this journey through Virginia’s Fall Line region. 


Symposium Schedule  (subject to amendment)  

Thursday, September 22, 6:00-9:00 pm

The Jefferson Hotel

Welcoming Remarks and Opening Program

The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lectures
Richmond: An Architectural Foretaste
Calder Loth, Retired Senior Architectural Historian, Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Made Along the James: The Decorative Arts of Eastern Virginia
Ronald L. Hurst, Vice President Museums, Preservation & Historic Resources and the Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Opening Reception

Sponsored by: 

Friday, September 23, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Court End: The Heart of Early-19th-Century Richmond

We begin our day with a sequence of four exciting tours in Court End, the heart of historic downtown Richmond. The district was initially developed in the 1780s and grew into a prestigious neighborhood in close proximity to Thomas Jefferson’s new Capitol. Impressive architecture abounds, including the 1790 John Marshall House, which we view as part of a guided stroll that also includes the Monumental Church and Egyptian Building

The Valentine Museum has been collecting, preserving, and interpreting Richmond stories for over a century, building an enormous collection of artifacts, including a world-renowned textile collection. We enjoy a curator-led tour of the galleries and Edward Valentine’s sculpture studio, the focus of an ambitious reinterpretation project. The Valentine also serves as our host for lunch.

The 1812 Wickham House is a stunning example of Federal architecture, depicting Richmond in the early 19th century. Designed by Alexander Parris for prominent attorney John Wickham, this dwelling housed his family and more than 15 enslaved African Americans. Parris’s design showcases a resplendent suite of reception rooms containing period furniture.

Built in 1818 for John Brockenbrough and designed by architect Robert Mills, the White House of the Confederacy was the residence of Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861 until the fall of Richmond in 1865. Now operated by the American Civil War Museum, this charged site explores the legacy of the Confederacy within an imposing Classical Revival structure filled with excellent mid-19th-century furniture and decorative arts.

In the afternoon, we have the pleasure of visiting the Virginia State Capitol for behind-the-scenes tours. Designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1785, the Capitol was intended to be a “temple” to Liberty and Justice and is based on the Roman Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France. Jean-Antoine Houdon’s famous statue of George Washington dominates the two-story Rotunda. 

Saturday, September 24, 9:00 am-5:00 pm 

Out and About in Richmond and Environs

In the morning, we head west of the city for exclusive tours of two significant Virginia historic houses.

A working farm for nearly 300 years, Tuckahoe is the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson and considered by architectural historians to have one of the most complete 18th-century plantation layouts, with rare outbuildings including a kitchen, slave quarters, and the office and school house where Jefferson began his education. Tuckahoe contains outstanding interior paneling and ornamentation as well as a splendid collection.

Helen Scott Reed, who played a foundational role in establishing the Trust, welcomes us to Chastain, built between 1789–94 by Stephen Chastain Cocke. The plan of four-over-four rooms with a large stair hall is similar to the John Marshall House in Richmond. The dining room features an unusual pedimented mantel and hand-blocked French wallpaper of hunt scenes. Helen Scott relocated the house to this site along with two other important historic structures.

Following lunch on Saturday, participants have the opportunity to select between two options for afternoon touring.

Option #1: Richmond’s First-Class Museum Scene

Participants may choose to explore Richmond’s two most prominent museums. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts opened in 1936 and now boasts the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s most important collections of American art. Curators guide us, providing insight into this impressive institution.

As the oldest cultural organization in Virginia, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture exhibits 16,000 years of the Commonwealth’s history and recently reopened after a major renovation. Objects play a key role in sharing the ever-evolving story of Virginia throughout the new galleries, and Curator Karen Sherry has planned a workshop with significant objects from the collection.

Option #2: Richmond Residences of the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Alternatively, members may opt to visit a selection of important historic houses, including two historic residences relocated to Richmond. Built c. 1753 east of the present-day city for William Randolph III, Wilton was the centerpiece of a 2,000-acre tobacco plantation and once home to the largest enslaved population in Henrico County. The Randolphs entertained some of colonial Virginia’s most elite figures. 

Agecroft is an authentic 15th-century Tudor manor house, built in Lancashire, England, and reconstructed in Richmond by T. C. Williams, a self-professed anglophile. The residence is located in what is now known as Windsor Farms, an idyllic Richmond neighborhood designed to look like an English village.

Built in 1911, the Scott House is a Beaux Arts mansion on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The Richmond architecture firm of Noland & Baskervill designed the house for Frederic and Elisabeth Scott after the Petit Trianon at Versailles, much like Richard Morris Hunt’s Marble House in Newport, RI.

Sunday, September 25, 9:00-11:30 am 

The Jefferson Hotel 

Edward Valentine’s Sculpture Studio and the Lost Cause Power Play
Christina K. Vida, Elise H. Wright Curator of General Collections, The Valentine Museum

John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
From Northern Imports to Local Manufacture: Clockmaking in Richmond, 1780–1860
Rachel Asbury Cole, Senior Collections Technician, The Valentine Museum

The Art, History, and Mystery of Richmond Stoneware
Robert Hunter, Editor, Ceramics in America

Marie Zimmermann Emerging Scholar Lecture
George’s Grimace: Political Frustrations on a Virginia Stoneware Jar
Dr. Elyse Gerstenecker, Curator of Historical Collections, The Telfair Museum

Symposium concludes 


Pre-Symposium Optional Tour: Down the James to Williamsburg

Wednesday, September 21, 8:30 am to Thursday, September 22, 4:30 pm

A morning departure from bustling Richmond allows us to begin our exploration along the James River at Shirley, built in 1736 on a royal land grant carved out of the Virginia frontier in 1613. The main house was constructed for Elizabeth Hill who married John Carter, the son of Robert “King” Carter. 

Continuing eastward along the James we visit Westover, a tidewater plantation home built c. 1730 for William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond. The house is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of Georgian architecture in America. The home’s elegant and precise proportions are further enhanced by the incredible views of the river.

Following lunch in Charles City, our journey continues on to Williamsburg for curator-led tours of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s museum galleries and behind-the-scenes tours of the famed historic district. We are privileged by a visit to the Palmer House, a 1750 Georgian residence that features Virginia clay Flemish bond brickwork and the stylish interiors and impressive collection of its current occupant, Trust Governor Tom Savage. We continue to the oldest dwelling in Williamsburg and one of Virginia’s earliest frame houses, the Nelson Galt House, which features the work of designer-in-residence Heather Chadduck Hillegas. Finally we take in the grand Robert Carter House and Everard House, the former erected in the second quarter of the 18th century for one of colonial America’s richest and most prominent families.

After checking into our accommodations at the Williamsburg Lodge, we continue for a reception at the home of Trust members Carolyn and Mike McNamara, who have cultivated a substantial and important collection of colonial maps concentrating on Virginia and North Carolina as well as Southern furniture. Adding to the fun, Colonial Williamsburg curators will be on site to discuss the collection.

Thursday includes visits to five private houses, offering a special opportunity even for Williamsburg regulars. Chris Caracci and James Boswell share their exciting collection, which focuses on decorative arts made and used in the Virginia and Carolina Tidewater and Piedmont regions. Strengths include ceramics, needlework, furniture, portraits, maps, and engravings.

Anh and Glenn Campbell welcome us to their house overlooking the James River. Originally inspired by visits to Colonial Williamsburg, their collection represents a 30-year journey of acquiring American furniture and folk art from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

Margaret Pritchard worked with Ralph Harvard to create a house loosely designed on the Temple of the Four Winds at Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland. The house overlooks College Creek, which connected the James River to Williamsburg during the 18th century. While enjoying lunch participants can marvel at Henry Popple’s enormous 1733 map of colonial America.

Next we visit a remarkable and storied private Georgian house with an outstanding collection of period decorative arts. Much of the furniture is from the Old Dominion and the Philadelphia area.

Our day concludes with a visit to an eclectic private collection in a rambling house on Tidewater Creek. The focus is on paintings and books as well as English pottery, sculpture, artifacts from the Grand Tour, Old Master drawings and prints, and miniatures, including cuttings from illuminated manuscripts. 

Post-Symposium Optional Tour: Petersburg 

Sunday, September 25, 12:00-7:00 pm 

Our Sunday outing concentrates on historic Petersburg, an under-appreciated node of historic architecture. Situated on the Appomattox River, the Petersburg area played a role of historic and economic significance. From the founding of the Citie of Henricus in 1611 to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the region was destined to become a place of historical importance, reaching an apex in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a center for the export of tobacco.

Strawberry Hill was built for William Barksdale in 1792 and is an architectural jewel in the center of Petersburg. It follows a tripartite Palladian form, consisting of a two-story center section originally flanked by one-story wings that were later raised. The privately owned house is replete with impressive early appointments. 

The high quality of Petersburg’s Federal-style architecture is elegantly displayed in the 1794 McIlwaine House. Relatively conventional on the outside, this private residence has an interior enriched with woodwork employing the intricate elaboration characteristic of the city’s late-18th-century buildings. Extensive paint analysis revealed the original finishes, which have been restored. 

Blandford Church is one of the few places of worship that features a comprehensive sweep of stained glass windows designed under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany of New York. Commissioned by the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Petersburg in memory of Confederate soldiers buried at the adjacent cemetery, the exquisite-yet-fraught windows sit in the 1736 Anglican church.

Our day concludes with a reception at Battersea. Built in 1768 for Petersburg’s first mayor, Colonel John Banister, Battersea is one of the finest surviving examples of Palladian architecture in America and illustrates the aspirations and ambitions of Virginia’s 18th-century plantation society.


Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House

Friday, September 23, 6:00-8:00 pm 

We are privileged by the invitation to visit the Hancock-Wirt-Caskie House, a grand two-story, seven-bay Neoclassical brick dwelling built in 1808–09 for Michael Hancock. The house features elegant woodwork and beautifully restored decorative surfaces throughout. In 1816, William Wirt purchased the house and lived there until 1818, when he moved to Washington as Attorney General of the United States under James Monroe. The Bowles family have been excellent stewards of this remarkable house, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Participants will also enjoy the family’s enviable collection of early-19th-century decorative arts.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast to our host’s hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2022, more than four dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.


The Jefferson, 101 West Franklin Street,

Special Room Rates: A block of rooms is reserved for September 20–25. Queen and King rooms are $350 per night. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until August 20, 2022. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 800.424.8014 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust.

Quirk Hotel, 201 West Broad Street,

Special Room Rates: A block of rooms is reserved for September 20–25. King rooms are $219 per night. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until August 20, 2022. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 804.340.6040 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust.


Registration fee: $1,075 per person, which includes all lectures, tours, meals, receptions, and transportation referenced in symposium brochure as well as a $50 tax-deductible donation to the Dewey Lee Curtis Scholarship Fund to underwrite symposium scholarships (see below). Participants may elect to make an additional donation through registration.

Student and Young Professional fee: $500 per person, limited to current graduate students and non-profit professionals less than 5 years from the completion of a degree. The Trust also awards at least 2 Dewey Lee Curtis Symposium Scholarships for graduate students or young professionals. Applications can be submitted through the Trust’s website and are due by August 10, 2022.

Optional programs: The Pre-Symposium Optional Tour is $600 for a single registration, $950 for two participants sharing a room, and includes hotel accommodations for the night. The Post-Symposium Optional Tour is $325 per person. The Friday evening fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program is $250 per person, fully tax deductible. All fees include transportation, admission, and food and beverage as referenced in the symposium brochure. Registration for optional programs is limited.

Membership: All participants must be members of the Decorative Arts Trust. For a list of membership benefits, visit Members at the Sponsor level and above are invited to a special event during the Symposium.

Cancellation fees: All cancellations received by June 30, 2022, are subject to a full refund less a $100 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between July 1 and August 15, 2022, will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after August 15, 2022.

Itinerary: The schedule, sites, and events outlined in this itinerary are subject to change as necessary.

Participation: The program is limited to a maximum of 75 members. We will maintain waiting lists on the basis of the time registrations are received.

COVID-19 vaccination is required for participation in all Decorative Arts Trust programming. If you have not already done so, please submit your vaccination card upon registration. 


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