The Fan: Richmond, Virginia
Adjacent to downtown Richmond, the Fan contains one of the largest collections in the U.S. of intact Victorian homes from the early 20th century. The neighborhood has remained largely unchanged, with a grid of short shady streets lined with historic homes that creates a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. The neighborhood's name, "The Fan," reflects how certain streets physically fan westward from Monroe Park to the Boulevard.
Bounded by Monroe Park on the east, Boulevard on the west, the Main Street Alley on the south, and Broad Street on the north.
The neighborhood is most famous for its architectural cohesiveness and variety. There are two historic districts listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places; the Fan Area Historic District and the Monument Avenue Historic District.
The Fan is primarily a residential district composed of side-hall-plan townhouses designed in a variety of styles including late Victorian and early 20th century with uniform heights, materials, setbacks, textures, scale, compatible landscaping, and uniform planting of trees.
Defining Characteristics, Features
- The area was originally farmland and was largely untouched during the Civil War
- The neighborhood was platted in 1817 as the village of Sydney, which never materialized
- The Fan began rapidly developing in the late 19th century, primarily between 1890 and 1930, as a result of the growth of the middle class; construction began on a streetcar line connecting the neighborhood to downtown Richmond
- Portions of neighborhood were annexed to the city in 1867 and 1892
- By 1930, The Fan was transformed into the distinctive character that is seen today
- The neighborhood experienced a short period of decline following WWII; it was subsequently revitalized and experienced a resurgence in the early 1960s
- Neighborhood groups such as the Fan District Association, Fan Women's Club, Fan Garden Club, and the Monument Avenue Preservation Society were integral to the revitalization of the Fan
- The neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985
- A variety of architectural styles are found throughout the neighborhood, including Italianate, Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, the Bungalow, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Art Deco
- The oldest existing building (1817) is known as Columbia; the house was built for Philip Haxall, a wealthy Richmond flour merchant
- Few houses built before the Civil War remain in the area today; the majority were replaced by brick dwellings
- The hospital of St. Sophia, home of the Little Sisters of the Poor, was originally a brick house in the 1830s and has been expanded several times; eventually renovated into the Second Empire style (1896) and today known as the Warsaw Condominiums
- In the 1880s and early 1900s, the Queen Anne style was one of the most popular architectural styles in the country; there are many fine examples of these houses along Floyd, Grove, and Hannover Avenues
- By the 1900s the Colonial Revival emerged as the most popular architectural style; many examples in the neighborhood are found on West Franklin Street and Grove Avenue
- Most of the oldest commercial structures from the 1890s and early 1900s with their original storefronts are concentrated along the commercial corridors of West Main, North Lombardy, North Robinson, and Strawberry Streets
- Many of the neighborhood's apartment buildings were constructed on the west side during the 1910s and 1920s; one prominent example is the Windsor Court Apartments located on Grove Avenue
- Monument Avenue, designated as a Great Street by the American Planning Association in 2007, is a 19th century Beaux-Arts inspired boulevard that is lined with stately homes and features six memorials and statues
Community Amenities and Events
- The Monument Avenue 10K includes 36,000 racers annually and was named one of the best races in the nation by USA Today
- Each spring more than 25,000 people "parade" along Monument Avenue during Easter on Parade, enjoying music, arts, crafts, food, and children's activities
- The neighborhood features three triangular parks of increasing size: Howitzer Park, Lombardy Park, and Meadow Park
- Fan District Association organizes events with community participation including Holiday House Tour, Historic Garden Week, and Winter Carnival