published in the Washington Post
Sunday, Dec 14 2008
Church Hill is changing. The historical Richmond neighborhood — site of old mansions, cast-iron work on porches, cobbled streets and the church where Patrick Henry made his impassioned cry for liberty or death — deteriorated rapidly in the mid-20th century. “Church Hill was the drug-infested shooting gallery” of Richmond, says John Johnson, president of the Church Hill Association. But in the past few decades, an aggressive historic preservation effort (and tempting tax breaks) have spurred revitalization and development.
A mile east of downtown, the mostly residential neighborhood now has a few cafes and coffee shops sprinkled among its brick Greek Revival, Federal and Italianate homes.
Much of the area’s history involves gruesome topics, such as Civil War medicine (never a pleasant subject) and a murderous grandnephew who offed Virginia’s first signer of the Declaration of Independence. Add to this Edgar Allan Poe’s association with the neighborhood (the writer spent much of his youth in Richmond and entertained a forbidden courtship with a Church Hill girl), and you have the makings of a creepily entertaining stroll.
See the rest at WashingtonPost.com