Loading...
Experience Chesterfield History 2017-07-05T12:01:20+00:00

EXPERIENCE
CHESTERFIELD
HISTORY

Virginia has a wealth of history and heritage, and Chesterfield County is proud to be part of that history! The county’s past reflects centuries and all major periods in our nation’s history. Travel back in time to 1611 to the second permanent English settlement of New World, step inside an 1892 jail cell, experience one of the many battlefields, or see the site of one of the country’s first industrialized coal mines.

Whether you’re here for a day or a weekend, we have some exciting ideas to help you plan your time. The following three-day guide offers a multitude of ideas on how to enjoy a trip built around the history of the Chesterfield County. Be sure to check out the newest seasonal experience for up to date events happening around the county!

Overview:

Day 1: Henricus Historical Park, Dutch Gap Conservation Area

Day 2: Chesterfield County Museum, Historic 1892 Jail, Ware Bottom Battlefield Park, Dodd Park at Point of Rocks

Day 3: Driving tours of Midlothian and Bon Air, a visit to Mid-Lothian Mines Park

Day 1:

Start your morning at Henricus Historical Park, located at 251 Henricus Park Road. Henricus opens at 10 a.m., and there you will experience a re-creation of the second permanent English settlement in the New World, which was settled 1611.

Henricus Park

Henricus Park

Step back into the 17thcentury at this living-history park. Henricus features a dozen re-created colonial structures where you can learn about, and participate in, cooking, blacksmithing, militia drills, planting and harvesting. Expect to spend most of your morning exploring what Henricus has to offer. For a sneak peek, watch this Snapshot segment.

For lunch, you can pack a picnic to enjoy at Henricus. There are also several places to pick up a quick bite to eat near the intersection of Route 10 and Iron Bridge Road and Route 1 and Jefferson Davis Highway. Looking for something more local? Drive a bit further along Route 10 west and try one of the many local eateries.

Dutch Gap Conservation Area and Canal

Dutch Gap Conservation Area and Canal

Finish your day in Chester exploring the Dutch Gap Conservation Area and Canal, open 8 a.m. to sunset. Union troops began digging the Dutch Gap Canal in 1864 to bypass a bend in the James River dominated by Confederate forts. The effort failed, but the canal was later completed and now is the main channel of the James River. The 800-plus-acre Dutch Gap Conservation Area includes a bounty of woodlands, wildlife and waterways. The area features a 4.5-mile multiuse trail open for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Day 2:

Start the morning at the Chesterfield County Government Complex where you will find the Chesterfield County Museum, located at 6813 Mimms Loop.

Chesterfield Museum

Chesterfield Museum

The building is a replica of the historic 1750 courthouse. Call 804-768-7311 to inquire about the special monthly Saturday history programs. For a preview of what you can find in the museum, watch this Snapshot segment.

The Historic 1892 Jail is right next door at 6819 Mimms Loop, and inside you can see the jail cells, put yourself in the stockades and learn about the history of the Chesterfield County Police Department. The jail housed prisoners for nearly 70 years.

1892 Jail

1892 Jail

The first floor features granite stones recycled from an earlier jail constructed in 1842 and upstairs, you will find the original iron barred cells that have remained unchanged since last housing prisoners in 1962. Hear more about the historic 1892 Jail in this Snapshot segment.

Make sure to walk over to the historic 1917 Chesterfield Courthouse, located at 10011 Iron Bridge Road, where the first colonial courthouse was once located and served as the county’s Circuit Court until the late 1960s.

Historic 1917 Courthouse

Historic 1917 Courthouse

It is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture. The cupola contains the original bell from the 1750 courthouse. Enjoy at self-guided tour of the Courthouse Green by picking up a brochure at the Chesterfield County Museum.

Across Iron Bridge Road at 10020 Iron Bridge Road, you will find Magnolia Grange Plantation House Museum, a Federal-style plantation house built in 1822 and named after the circle of magnolia trees that once graced its front lawn. The house is furnished with artifacts that interpret life at a county plantation during the 19th century. Call 804-796-1479 to inquire about the special monthly Saturday History programs.

Magnolia Grange

Magnolia Grange

The last stop around the government complex is the Historic Trinity Church, located at 10111 Iron Bridge Road. The church is home to the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia and its archival library, genealogical records, maps and photographs.

If you are interested in visiting Eppington Plantation, it is open to small tour groups by appointment only. For tour information, call 804-751-4946 or refer to the Parks and Recreation Program Guide for a list of events at Eppington.

For lunch, there are several options along Iron Bridge Road heading toward Ware Bottom Battlefield Park in Chester.

Spend the afternoon at Ware Bottom Battlefield Park, located at 1600 Old Bermuda Hundred Road in Chester. The site marks the center of the fighting during the Battle of Ware Bottom Church on May 20, 1864.

Ware Bottom Church Battlefield

Ware Bottom Church Battlefield

The earthworks, which were constructed over a period of time after the battle, represent some of the largest Howlett Line trenches still in existence. More than 1,500 feet of the earthworks are preserved in the park. The park is open sunrise to sunset.

Next, travel to Dodd Park at Point of Rocks, located at 201 Enon Church Road in Chester. This 176-acre park features remnants of Union earthworks, which can be seen along the park road and trails. The park is open sunrise to sunset.

Historic Point of Rocks

Historic Point of Rocks

Nearby, Historic Point of Rocks Park can be toured by appointment only. This multi use park features the site of a large Civil War hospital where Red Cross founder Clara Barton served during the siege of Petersburg. Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant and others visited this large Union base that continued to operate until the end of the war. Contact Bryan Truzzie at 804-751-4946 to set up a tour.

Day 3:

Today will feature driving tours of Bon Air and Midlothian. There will be opportunities to park and get out of the car, but most of the tours can be spent in the car looking at historic sites and architecture.

Old Bon Air Hotel Annex

Old Bon Air Hotel Annex

Spend the morning exploring Bon Air, a Victorian resort town that was established in 1877 as an escape for those living in Richmond and as a summer retreat for vacationers. A drive through the town today will reveal unique architecture and Victorian-style construction.

Bon Air Driving Tour with Map

bon-air-map

The Sycamores

The Sycamores

Once you are finished with the Bon Air driving tour, head toward the Midlothian area. Some of Chesterfield County’s oldest history can be found in Midlothian. The area boasts the country’s first industrial coal mines, the site of the settlement of the French Huguenots and the location of the first railroad in Virginia. A 200-foot-long section of the original 13-mile-long railroad, built by slaves in 1831, remains in Chesterfield County near 10401 Midlothian Turnpike. Spend the rest of your morning driving through Midlothian taking in some of the area’s most notable historic sites. For a preview of what you can find in the Midlothian area, watch this Snapshot segment.

Midlothian Driving Tour with Map

midlo-map

Following the Midlothian tour, grab some lunch at one of the many local restaurants in the area.

Finish the day at Mid-Lothian Mines Park, located at 13286 N. Woolridge Road, to experience one of the first major industrial sites in the U.S., including the first commercially mined coal in America. Coal mining was the county’s most important industry by the early 1800s and gave rise to the Chesterfield Railroad, a gravity railroad, one of only two in the country and the first hard surfaced road in Virginia known as the Midlothian Turnpike.

Mid-Lothian Mines

Mid-Lothian Mines

To help plan your day, contact the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia by visiting www.chesterfieldhistory.com for tours and programs. For more information or group tours, contact Bryan Truzzie at 804-751-4946.

The Parks and Recreation Program Guide is another great resource and lists programs available throughout the year.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Henricus
251 Henricus Park Road, Chester
804-748-1613
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5p.m.
Cost: $8 adults, $6 children


Chesterfield County Museum
6813 Mimms Loop, Chesterfield
Chesterfield Government Complex
804-768-7311
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: $2 per person suggested donation


Historic 1892 Jail
6819 Mimms Loop, Chesterfield
Chesterfield Government Complex
804-768-7311
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: $1 per person suggested donation


Magnolia Grange Plantation House Museum

10020 Iron Bridge Road, Chesterfield
Chesterfield Government Complex
804-748-1498
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: $5 adults, $3 students


Historic Trinity Church
10111 Iron Bridge Road, Chesterfield
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m
Cost: Free


Mid-Lothian Mines Park
13301 N. Woolridge Road
804-751-4946
Hours: Sunrise-sunset
Cost: Free; guided tours available for a fee