Saturday, March 30, 2013

History for Free

I get down to Richmond, Virginia a few times a year. Often I try to stretch and find something monumentally historical to see, often at the cost of driving many miles or paying admission to see. Today, I stumbled on some free things to see and do in the city that were worthwhile.
Sam inside the courtyard of Linden Row Inn.

Linden Row is a neat hotel in downtown Richmond. My wife and I stayed here in 1999 en route to our honeymoon in Charleston. Crafting a hotel from a cluster of adjacent row homes is a brilliant idea. A somewhat bored desk attendant saw no harm in letting my son and I go around inside the building.

Sherry and the kids ascend the steps outside the Capitol. 
Washington statue (surrounded by other Founding Virginians).
We then trekked on over to the State Capitol, which was about eight blocks away. That's a gem of a building, and very accessible to the public. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson while he was serving as an ambassador in France. What a brilliant example of the Greek style characterizing the neoclassical architecture of the time period. The building represents the idealistic optimism of a growing nation that was simultaneously moving its state capitals inland (Richmond, Harrisburg, Albany) and cloaking those new houses of government in the symbolism of the ancient birthplaces of democratic and republican government. The staffers there were very welcoming, assuring us that we could join a tour but then hop off if the kids were getting itchy. The security guard let my daughter watch the x-ray monitor of the security screening as she put her stuffed dog through.

On another venture I'll get into the obscure John Marshall house. And in 2015 I mean to make my way back to Appomattox, hopefully tracing the trail Lee's beleaguered forces took to the place of their surrender. Today I enjoyed the simpler history right around the corner.

Sherry and Caroline with the architect of Independence. Notice Sam photobombing?

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