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Neighborhood Profile: Windsor Farms

The Windsor Farms residential subdivision, known architecturally first and foremost for Agecroft Hall and the Virginia House, is equally as interesting for its layout and conception as well as an impressive collection of Colonial Revival homes.

Founded in 1926 by tobacconist T.C. Williams, the neighborhood was reimagined as an English Village. This is evident both in the street layout courtesy of landscape architect John Nolen, with circular streets symmetrically radiating around a central lawn, and in the naming of the streets (Oxford, Queen Charlotte, Cambridge, Dover). With an axial tree-lined boulevard culminating in a central lawn and community functions located along Cary Street, the suburb’s design referenced the Garden City planning type explored in the early 20th Century. Both then and now, the neighborhood is one of the most racially homogenous in Richmond and among the most financially elite in the country.

The neighborhood is home to several structures designed by New York architect William Lawrence Bottomley, who was a renowned residential architect in the Colonial Revival style. Windsor Farms also contains a number of Tudor and Cape Cod houses, both in keeping with the subdivision’s English aesthetic.

Design discipline of shared spaces in the neighborhood offers a cohesive image to Windsor Farms. Brick and stone sidewalks wind their way around rows of magnolia and oak trees. Homes are given generously proportioned front and back yards, and driveways, often crushed stone, seem to claim more driving space than public roads.

Bounded curtly to the east by the Powhite Parkway and to the south with sweeping views of the James River, the spacious planning of Windsor Farms presents a challenge to contemporary Richmond’s development. While advertised as a country-like suburban retreat in the 1920s, the area exhibits a noticeable contrast of density to nearby areas and renders an incredible frontage of the river as backyards to a few select grand homes. The result, while beautiful, gives the impression of an exclusive suburb encroaching the city’s land.

M.F.A.

Photographs by author.

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