St. John’s Mews

Address: Church Hill, South of Broad between 23rd and 24th
City: Richmond
State: VA
Phone: 804-643-7407

In the heart of the historic Church Hill district of Richmond is Saint John’s Church, where Patrick Henry uttered his immortal words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Nearby is Carrington Square, named for the influential Carrington family prominent in the 19th century, the block bounded by Broad, Grace, 23rd and 24th Streets. It is bisected by a cobble-paved alleyway once used as a carriageway, known as The Mews, that terminates with a view of Saint John’s steeple. This vista was dramatically framed by a huge elm tree that had escaped Dutch elm disease. The Historic Richmond Foundation was organized in 1956 to preserve and restore the Historic Zone of Church Hill. A 30′ strip was cut off the back of the Broad Street properties and added to the width of the Mews to make a garden. In 1964, they asked the Garden Club of Virginia to create a beautiful and useful community garden along the carriageway. Ralph Griswold was retained as landscape architect. As a theme for the architectural elements in the proposed design, the ornamental cast-iron work of Victorian Richmond was adopted. Salvaged iron railings were inserted in panels of the brick wall constructed to separate the garden from the service side of the Broad Street houses. From iron porch colonettes and railings, a pavilion was incorporated in the separation wall. The foundation fragments of an old carriage house were used to outline a brick-paved terrace furnished with typical cast-iron chairs and tables. Along the gravel garden walks niches provided spaces for unique cast-iron benches. Vases of various shapes ornamented the walls and terraces in 19th century fashion. It is an outdoor museum of American Victorian garden ornaments that has been richly planted.

Year: 1967
Landscape Architect: Ralph E. Griswold

Cast iron fencing and planting

Year: 2008
Landscape Architect: William D. Rieley

Renovation of paving, planting, buildings and fences

Year: 2009
Landscape Architect: William D. Rieley

Renovation of sections of ornamental cast iron fencing.