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White House of the Confederacy

Richmond (Independent City), Virginia
County of Richmond (City).
Clay and 12th Streets
National Register Number: 66000924
Resource type: Building.
Property type: Domestic - single dwelling. The threat level was Threatened in
Certified Local Government: YES
This NHL offers public access.
Please contact the NHL directly for visitor information.
Current use/information: Museum; http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~pjdavis/whouse.htm.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - December 19, 1960):
From 1861 to 1865, this white-stuccoed brick structure was the residence of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and served as the South's Executive Mansion.

The Museum and White House of the Confederacy (a private, non-profit organization covered by Federal tax designation code 501[c]3) is increasingly threatened by the encroachment of a massive hospital complex - Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (formerly the Medical College of Virginia). The Main Hospital Building (1982) is a 17-story structure that towers over the entire neighborhood, and sits immediately adjacent to the Museum and White House site with its north wall built within inches of the property line. The pharmacy school's Smith Building (1984) was constructed across 12th Street (directly west of the property), and is 8 stories tall. 12th Street was closed in 1998,when the "Gateway" Building was constructed in the middle of the street bed. This construction lasted four years and permanently cut off the view from the White House to Capitol Square to the South, and also cut one of the three arteries into the Court End neighborhood. The current construction project is the 17-story Critical Care Center that is situated less than 70 feet from the White House Structure. This building, which is situated due east of the Museum and White House property, covers about half of the original property, and occupies the space where the entire complement of dependicies were originally located. The construction project is projected to be completed in 2008. The Richmond Academy of Medicine building, which is situated directly north of the White House, was acquired by VCUHS in the late spring of 2006. Though important to the general welfare, safety, and local economy in Richmond, VCUHS's previous, current, and planned construction projects have destroyed the physical landscape and viewsheds of the historic Shockoe Hill/Court End neighborhood, with specific detriment to the White House of the Confederacy site. Access to the site is severely decreased and permanently altered. As a result, the Museum's ability to function independently has been damaged. Visitation has steadily declined by approxiametly 40% (from 91,000 to 54,000, annually) since 1991. Normal wear and tear on the restoration work, from carpets to exterior paint, will require moderate levels of new restoration in the near future. The Museum, being in financial extremis for the previously stated reasons, has a declining financial ability to meet these needs.

A new engineering report on the White House building should be made to determine if there is any structural deterioration. The Museum hopes to expand its educational programs, but will need broad-based support for these initiatives in the local, state, and national communities. For previously listed reasons, the Museum does not currently have the funds to expend its programs. Further advocacy and, perhaps, even legislation will be necessary to limit the expansion of the hospital complex in the Shockoe Hill/Court End district. Other NHL sites, such as the John Marshall House (Register Number 69000329), and the Egyptian Building (Register Number 69000321) are or will be similarly imperiled within the next ten years. As previousely mentioned, the Museum will need to spend roughly $100,00 to make the necessary improvements and restoration to the White House of the Confederacy building.

Comments and questions about the database may be directed to NHL_info@nps.gov