Colonial Heights, Virginia
|• Mayor||C. Scott Davis|
|• City||7.8 sq mi (20 km2)|
|• Land||7.5 sq mi (19 km2)|
|• Water||0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2) 3.7%|
|Elevation||95 ft (29 m)|
|• Density||2,321/sq mi (896/km2)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1496852|
Colonial Heights is an independent city in Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,411. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the City of Colonial Heights (along with the City of Petersburg) with Dinwiddie County for statistical purposes.
Like much of eastern Virginia, the site of Colonial Heights was located within the Algonquian-speaking confederation known as Tenakomakah, ruled by Chief Powhatan, when the English colonists arrived at Jamestown on May 14, 1607. Captain John Smith's early map of Virginia testifies that the present area of Colonial Heights included the principal town of the Appamattuck subtribe, led by their weroance, Coquonasum, and his sister, Oppussoquionuske. In the aftermath of the Indian attacks of 1622 and 1644, the Appamattuck became tributary to England and relocated to nearby Ettrick, and its opposite bank, near Fort Henry (within modern-day Petersburg, Virginia).
The area including present-day Colonial Heights was made a part of "Henrico Cittie", one of 4 huge "incorporations" formed in the Virginia Colony in 1619 by the London Company. English colonists first settled in the Colonial Heights area in 1620. A small group sailed up the Appomattox River looking for clear land, and finally settled in an area where Swift Creek runs into the Appomattox River, which they named Conjurer's Neck. This confluence was formerly the residence of a Native American healer (known as a "conjurer") who was thought to have cast spells over the waters.
Shortly thereafter, Charles Magnor registered the first land patent in the area for 650 acres (2.6 km2), which he later developed into a plantation before selling it in 1634. That same year, by order of King Charles I of England, the Virginia Colony was divided into the 8 original shires of Virginia by the House of Burgesses, one of which was Henrico County, which included the future land of Colonial Heights.
In 1635, the English had a small town called Appamattucks near the "Old Towne" Creek, thought to be located near the intersection of Temple Avenue and Dimmock Parkway. Also in that year, Captain Henry Fleet and Francis Poythress built a small fort nearby, on "Fleet's Hill" just west of the current city, now occupied by the campus of Virginia State University.
During the period from 1677 to 1685, one of the area's historic landmarks was constructed with the building of the Old Brick House. Richard Kennon came to Virginia prior to 1670, and became a merchant of Bermuda Hundred. He represented Henrico County in the House of Burgesses. His son, Richard Kennon, Jr., was also a member of the House of Burgesses and married the daughter of Col. Robert Bolling, the emigrant, and his second wife, the former Anne Stith. Richard's sister, Mary Kennon, was married to Major John Fairfax Bolling, half-brother of Richard's wife. Major Bolling was the son of Col. Robert Bolling and his first wife Jane Rolfe, who was granddaughter of the early colonist John Rolfe and his Native American wife, Pocahontas. The Bollings lived at Cobb's, a plantation in eastern Chesterfield near Point-of-Rocks.
The manor house built by Richard Kennon (later known as the "Brick House") is now thought to be the oldest permanent structure in Colonial Heights. One wall of the house survived a disastrous fire in 1879, and the rest was rebuilt. 
In 1749, an area south of the James River was divided from Henrico County by the House of Burgesses, and named Chesterfield County. The area which became Colonial Heights was to remain in Chesterfield County for almost 200 more years, until 1948.
The name "Colonial Heights" results from an incident during the American Revolutionary War. In May 1781, the French troops of General Marquis de Lafayette, known as the Coloniels, advanced south from Richmond and deployed artillery on the heights overlooking Petersburg from across the Appomattox River. The area thereafter came to be known as "Colonial Heights", and the name was given to a subdivision of the Oak Hill tract in 1906.
A historic site, Oak Hill, on Carroll Avenue, also called Archer's, Hector's, or Dunn's Hill, consisted of two one-story weatherboarded structures connected by a deep inside porch that extends from an uncovered section toward the street. From the lawn of this house, in May 1781, General Lafayette — with cannon behind a boxwood hedge that still fringes the hill — shelled Petersburg, then occupied by British troops under Major-General William Phillips (who died of typhoid during this bombardment).
The area also became involved in operations during the American Civil War. General Robert E. Lee made his headquarters at Violet Bank from June through September during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864.
In 1926, Colonial Heights became an incorporated town in Chesterfield County. It was incorporated as a city in 1948; under Virginia law, it separated from Chesterfield County and became an independent city. Its current charter was granted in 1960. From 1960 to 1970, Colonial Heights experienced a period of rapid growth as the population jumped from 9,587 to 15,097.
In the mid-1980s, completion of the State Route 144 (Temple Avenue Connector) and a new bridge across the Appomattox River provided access to State Route 36 near Fort Lee. The new road and bridge effectively opened a large previously isolated tract of land along the southeastern edge of the city for commercial development. There, the regional Southpark Mall and many other retail businesses and offices were built.
On August 6, 1993, an F4 tornado (max. wind speeds 207-260 mph) passed through Colonial Heights. It caused extensive damage to the Southpark Mall and collapsed the roof of an old Wal Mart (now Sam's Club) store. It also did extensive damage in Petersburg and Hopewell. In the Tri-Cities area, the tornado killed 4 people (3 in Wal-Mart & 1 in Prince George), injured 246, and caused an estimated $50 million in property damage.
On April 28, 2008, an EF1 tornado (max. wind speeds 86-110 mph) produced a near two mile (3 km) long, though discontinuous, path through Colonial Heights. The tornado first touched down near the Colonial Heights Middle School football field, damaging the field clubhouse roof, then causing roof damage and spill onto I-95 from Medallion Pool business. The tornado then jumped I-95 and touched down again in the Dimmock Square Shopping Center. Several cars were flipped and piled in the parking lot of a strip mall (which had extensive roof damage) that is less than a tenth of a mile from the site of the old Wal Mart which was destroyed by an F4 tornado on August 6, 1993. The tornado then continued across Temple Avenue, causing tree and roof damage in the neighborhood near Fine Drive and Puddledock Road (in Prince George County) before lifting for good. The tornado injured 21 and caused an estimated $10 million in property damage.
Colonial Heights is also home of the largest Arby's restaurant in the world.
Swift Creek Mill
Records indicate that Swift Creek Mill was in existence as early as 1663. It is believed to be the oldest grist mill in the United States.
Henry Randolph I, who was born in Little Houghton, Northamptonshire, England in 1623, moved to Virginia about 1640. In 1655 he acquired title to a large tract of land in Bermuda Hundred on Swift Creek, where he erected the present mill. "Mr. Randolph's Mill" is mentioned in 1663 in "Cavaliers and Pioneers" (index to Virginia - 1620 to 1666).
An heir of Henry Randolph I, William Bland Randolph, deeded the mill site to William Rowlett on February 20, 1805, and it became known as Rowlett's Mill. In 1852, the Rowlett heirs conveyed the mill to the Swift Creek Manufacturing Company.
Following the American Civil War the property was known as Schmidt's Distillery, which made corn whiskey. Following this, the property changed hands several times and was operated as a grist mill. In 1929, the mill became known as Swift Creek Mill. The grist mill continued in operation until about 1956.
The Swift Creek Mill was purchased in August 1965 by Wamer J. Callahan Jr. and Dr. Louis Rubin, both native Virginians, with the idea of converting the 305-year-old building into a dinner theater. The plan was to convert the three existing floors into two dining rooms connected by a new stairwell and to be known as Swift Creek Mill Playhouse. The playhouse opened on December 2, 1965 with the Broadway musical Carnival!.
The Swift Creek Mill Playhouse is located on U.S. 1-301 just south of the Chesterfield County line at Swift Creek. In modern times, continuous buffet dining by candlelight begins at 6:30 p.m. in both the glamorous Mill Room and Granite Room. The shows are presented in the comfortable air-conditioned theatre each Wednesday through Saturday night year-round by advance reservations.
Colonial Heights is located at (37.262257, -77.402728).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.8 square miles (20.2 km2), of which 7.5 square miles (19.4 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km2) of it (3.7%) is water.
Colonial Heights is located on just north of the Appomattox River across from the modern-day City of Petersburg at the river's fall line It is located south of Chesterfield County (practically surrounded by it except for a south border with Petersburg) and in some areas, Swift Creek divides the city from the county.
Adjacent county / Independent city
- Chesterfield County, Virginia - west, north, southeast (Appomattox River islands)
- Petersburg, Virginia - south
- Prince George County, Virginia - east
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,897 people, 7,027 households, and 4,722 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,260.3 people per square mile (872.2/km²). There were 7,340 housing units at an average density of 981.9 per square mile (378.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.08% White, 6.27% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 2.72% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. 1.62% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 7,027 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $43,224, and the median income for a family was $51,806. Males had a median income of $37,794 versus $26,324 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,659. About 3.4% of families and 5.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.
Elementary and secondary
The City of Colonial Heights is served by Colonial Heights Public Schools. There are three elementary schools, Lakeview Elementary School, North Elementary School, Tussing Elementary School; one middle school, Colonial Heights Middle School; and one high school, Colonial Heights High School. All of the schools are accredited by the Virginia Board of Education and by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The area is served by three schools of higher education:
According to Chesapeake's 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|2||Colonial Heights Public Schools||615|
|3||City of Colonial Heights||348|
|6||Colonial Heights Health Care and Rehabilitation Center||229|
|7||Red Lobster & Olive Garden||200|
|8||J. C. Penney||189|
|9||Martin's Food Markets||187|
Colonial Heights has two weekly periodicals, both free publications:
- The Colonial Voice, published by the Petersburg Progress-Index.
- Colonial Heights Patriot, published by the Hopewell Publishing Company.
- Jacqueline Cook - Miss Virginia 2000
- Gray Gaulding - NASCAR driver
- Brittany York - Miss North Carolina USA 2011
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- Friends of Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) Newsletter, 2006
- Progress Index article, May 13, 2007
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
- City of Colonial Heights CAFR
- Hawkins, David W., History of Colonial Heights (August, 1947) Virginia Municipal Review.
- Violet Bank, U.S. Route 1 vicinity, Colonial Heights, Colonial Heights, VA: 8 photos and 2 data pages at Historic American Buildings Survey
- City of Colonial Heights
|Chesterfield County||Prince George County|
|City of Petersburg||Chesterfield County|