ADAMS-VAN LEW HOUSE
2311 East Grace Street, Richmond
Built 1802 and c. 1836; demolished 1911
Photograph: Virginia Historical Society
The stately Adams-Van Lew house in Richmond's Church Hill neighborhood was built for John Adams, a Richmond physician.
In 1836 it was sold to John Van Lew, who undertook extensive alterations that significantly improved the house and property.
On the street facade he built a dwarf Doric portico that was elegant yet substantial; it gave a strong classical presence to what
had been a tame Federal design. On the garden facade he added a giant (two-story) Doric piazza and developed an extensive
garden that cascaded down the steep slope at the rear of the house. The unobstructed view of the James River from there
must have been spectacular. In 1876 the house passed to Van Lew's daughter Elizabeth Van Lew. Regarded as the most
effective Union spy in Richmond during the Civil War, "Lizzie" made the house famous. Her association with the house
generated no sentiment for preventing its demolition in 1911.
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