John Russell Pope
2501 Monument Avenue
One of the most impressive mansions on the already extravagant Monument Avenue, the Branch House was commissioned in 1916 by John Kerr Branch, a wealthy stockbroker and bank president. The house was to have enough space to house his extensive collection of Italian Renaissance items, including tapestries, furniture, woodwork, and armor. A popular style for the wealthy in the early 20th Century, the Tudor Jacobean mansion’s brick and sandstone castle-like exterior shields an impeccably preserved interior, from the elaborate furniture and lighting fixtures to the carefully crafted wood detailing. Other examples of thoughtful handiwork are found all over the building: the three uniquely laid brick chimneys, fireproof concrete floors, and exterior sculpted stone motifs. A generous amount of light permeates the building through large warped glass bays, from the back gallery space to the cozy library on the third floor, so that the building maintains a warmness despite its imposing size. A brick wall lining the other side of the lot contains a courtyard, stepped down from the back gallery space in a private retreat, overlooking Fan District townhouses through a screen of trees.
The 27,000 square foot mansion was designed by John Russell Pope, most well known for the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art in D.C, but whose work is also found two blocks north at the Science Museum of Virginia. Unlike the architect’s other well known classical style buildings, the Branch House employs a Tudor Jacobean style, influenced by the famous Compton Wynyates mansion in Warwickshire, England.
After passing through other owners twice after the Branch family, the house found a well suited occupant in the Virginia Center for Architecture. In 2015, it reopened as the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, one of the few architectural museums in the country, whose exhibitions and event hosting allow the architectural prize to be observed and celebrated. Located along the historic Monument Avenue, it was independently listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1984.
nps.gov. (n.d.). Branch house. Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/richmond/BranchHouse.html