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Designed by Thomas Jefferson with architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau, this Classic Revival building was modeled after a Roman temple, the Maison Carrée in Nimes. It was completed in 1788 and is the second oldest capitol in continuous use in the country. The focal point of the building is the central rotunda featuring a life-size statue of George Washington, said to be the only one for which he actually posed. A smaller dome displays busts of the eight American presidents from Virginia. The old Hall of the House of Delegates, where the legislature met until 1906, is now a museum. Free tours, lasting about 30 minutes, are offered here. Visitors can stroll around the Capitol grounds and see the nearby Executive Mansion.
Cited right on Capitol Square, the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is a testament to Barbara Rose Johns' bravery. Not widely known but still an extremely important figure in the civil rights movement, Barbara is fondly referred to as "Virginia's Rosa Parks." The then 16-year-old led a strike for equal education at Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia. Her suit was used in the historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, in which the court ruled against "separate but equal," ending segregation in American public schools. The Civil Rights Memorial celebrates the spirit of Barbara Johns, Moton High School, community leaders and civil rights attorneys.
Shockoe Slip is the city's oldest mercantile district and was once the site of the State Capitol building. This area has been a bustling hub since the 17th century. Though the earliest buildings here were destroyed during the Civil War, original cobblestones and structures dating from 1868-1888 make this beautiful and historic area a perfect place for sightseeing. Shockoe also offers shopping - there are antique and book stores and a variety of clothing boutiques - and a ton of dining options, such as a Japanese steak and sushi restaurant and Morton's Steakhouse.
"Let us have a bank that takes nickels and turns them into dollars." These were the words of Maggie Walker in a speech to the Board of what is now the oldest surviving black-operated bank in the United States, Consolidated Bank and Trust. This remarkable woman was its founder and was also the developer of a successful insurance company that worked to ensure proper health care and burials for African-Americans. Ms. Walker was the daughter of a former slave and a white abolitionist. The 22-room house built in 1883, where she lived for 30 years, is now open to the public for tours. Admission is free.Winter hours: Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., November 1 through February 28.Summer hours: Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 1 through October 31.
Cobblestoned Monument Avenue is the only street in the country declared a national historic site. This is a favorite local spot for taking a walk or for reading a novel, spread out on the grass. After the Civil War, statues were erected on Monument Avenue to honor Confederate heroes. These include Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army, and General "Stonewall" Jackson, so called because he rode upon his horse immovable and expressionless as a stone wall. To better illustrate Richmond's cultural diversity, a statue of tennis great Arthur Ashe, a Richmond native, was added in 1996.
Built-in 1893, this beautiful home on the James River is a classic example of Victorian architecture and landscaping. Maymont Mansion is filled with period furniture including a magnificent swan bed. Trees and plants from all over the world were cultivated here by the owners. The English, Japanese and Italian gardens are romantic spots for strolling and picnicking. A carriage collection, children's farm, and small zoo are other favorite attractions.
The Fan District is full of richly detailed turn-of-the-century townhomes. Each is unusual with architectural features including spellbinding stained glass, grimacing gargoyles and intricately carved columns. Most are surrounded by fragrant flowers, carefully tended by the buildings' owners. The area is named for its fan-shaped layout, designed during Richmond's streetcar era. The Strawberry Street Cafe is just one of many favorite Richmond restaurants that nestle along the Fan's folds.
Three Lakes Nature Center & Aquarium is the best place to be on a sunny afternoon in Richmond. It is tranquil and beautiful, bringing together land and water for the delight of all visitors. Aside from the wonderful sightseeing, there are a plethora of activities for kids to engage in, such as educational programs focusing on fireflies, butterflies and two in particular that are a big hit: the Insectigator - where kids are able to hunt for certain insects - and the Dirt Lab, where budding archaeologists dig up hidden treasures. As if all of that isn't cool enough, there is a 50,000-gallon freshwater aquarium on site, which houses various fish and amphibians. With so many live exhibitions, it is no wonder that Three Lakes Nature Center & Aquarium is a big hit with children and adults alike.