Virginia Historical Society

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Virginia Historical Society
Established 1831 (1831)
Location 428 North Boulevard, Richmond, Virginia
Type History museum

Virginia Historical Society web site

Battle Abbey
Coordinates 37°33′23″N 77°28′29″W / 37.55639°N 77.47472°W / 37.55639; -77.47472
Architectural style Neoclassical Revival
Part of

Boulevard Historic District (#86002887

Designated CP September 18, 1986

The Virginia Historical Society (VHS), founded in 1831 as the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, is a major repository, research, and teaching center for Virginia history. It is a private, non-profit organization, supported almost entirely by private contributions. In 2004, it was designated the official state historical society of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Virginia Historical Society features award-winning exhibitions and programming that are entertaining and educational for visitors of all ages. One of the largest historical societies in the country, the VHS has more than 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) of exhibition gallery space and the largest display of Virginia artifacts on permanent view. The VHS is the only museum with all of Virginia’s history under one roof — all centuries, regions, and topics are covered.


The mission of the Virginia Historical Society is to connect people to America’s past through the unparalleled story of Virginia. By collecting, preserving, and interpreting the Commonwealth’s history, the society links past with present and inspires future generations.


At its founding, the list of officers and standing committee members included the following:[2]

Standing Committee:

In its early years, the VHS gathered an eclectic collection of natural history specimens, historical artifacts, and printed and written material. After the Civil War, the institution was renamed the Virginia Historical Society to reflect a primarily historical focus as it became more active in publishing historical material. The society gained its first permanent headquarters building in Richmond in 1893. The society's journal, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, has published on a quarterly basis without interruption since 1893.

In the 1950s, increasing resources allowed the addition of a professional staff. Over the next several decades the society's collections grew. The publications program also increased as the VHS gained a significant role in the academic community.

In 1959, the society relocated from its headquarters in the Lee House on Franklin Street to Battle Abbey (constructed in 1912) on the Boulevard. To accommodate the society, a four-story wing was added to the west side of the previously expanded Battle Abbey. Since 1959, the VHS headquarters building has been renovated and expanded several times—including a new west wing to house the extensive society research library (1992); a north wing to expand its gallery space and house offices of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (1998); a new south wing to add additional gallery space, storage, offices, and a nearly 500-seat auditorium (2006); and new spaces for public use on the north and south sides of the building (2015).

In 1992, the society opened the Center for Virginia History, increasing its display and archival resources. Shortly thereafter, it entered into a partnership with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources,[3] an agency of the state government, which also had significant historical holdings (both artifacts and archives), forming a unique private-public partnership.


The VHS offers a wide array of educational programs, especially for students and teachers. These include outreach programs that take place in school classrooms, guided tours of exhibitions, and workshops and week-long summer institutes for teachers.

The VHS offers three members-only evening lectures and 12–20 noontime lectures every year that are open to the public. Audio and videos of past lectures are accessible on the web site.[5]

The 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2) Charles F. Bryan, Jr. wing, completed in 2006, houses the Reynolds Business History Center (RBHC)[6] (RBHC).[7] The RBHC seeks to acquire company records from important and representative businesses from around the commonwealth. In addition, the VHS has developed business history programs for scholars, businesspeople, students, and the general public.

Current[when?] exhibitions include The Story of Virginia, an exhibition that interprets 16,000 years of Virginia history from the earliest artifacts of Native Americans to Virginia at the beginning of the 21st century.[4]

Virginia House[edit]

Virginia House
VH Facade.jpg
Established 1928 (1928)

4301 Sulgrave Road

Richmond, Virginia
Website Virginia House web site

Virginia House, situated on a hillside overlooking the James River in Richmond, Virginia, was constructed by Alexander W. Weddell, U.S. ambassador to Spain and Argentina, and his wife, Virginia Weddell, in 1928 from the materials of a 16th-century English manor house previously standing in Warwick. It was a blend of three romantic English Tudor designs, and, for its time, was a thoroughly modern home complete with seven full baths, central heat, modern kitchen, and commodious closets.

Now owned and operated by the Virginia Historical Society as a museum, the house has been preserved much as it was when the Weddells resided there. The gardens and grounds of Virginia House provide a rich tapestry of texture and color throughout the year. Today, close to 1,000 types of ornamental plants thrive throughout formal and naturalistic gardens.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Cushing, Jonathan P. (1833). Collections of the Virginia Historical & Philosophical Society. 1. Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society. p. 83. 
  3. ^ "Virginia Department of Historic Resources". Retrieved November 22, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "The Story of Virginia, An American Experience - Virginia Historical Society". Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  5. ^ "Audio and Video - Virginia Historical Society". 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  6. ^ "Reynolds Business History Center - Main | Virginia Historical Society". Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  7. ^ "Long-term exhibitions at the Virginia Historical Society". 1997-09-17. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 

(Information paraphrased from the Virginia Historical Society web site - see external link below)

External links[edit]