Henrico County VA
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Top 24 Events in Henrico History

Top 24 most significant moments in Henrico history

Interstate paved way for county’s growth

One of the most significant advancements in the history of Henrico County barely registered in the mind of Henrico’s top executive at the time, was little more than an afterthought to most county residents and came about thanks in part to one of Virginia’s most storied collegiate rivalries.


Without it, many of the elements that have defined Henrico County for decades – and some that have county officials excited about the future – would not exist.

Failed rebellion had wide-reaching effect

Tucked into the woods just off Lakeside Avenue, a tiny award-winning park is a popular draw for strollers, picnickers, history buffs and neighbors seeking a shady respite near a tumbling brook.

Although the mineral spring that gave the park its name dried up long ago, visitors to Spring Park can still view the site of a 19th-century granite spring house and walk in the footsteps of Samuel Williamson, who owned the 400-acre tract in 1796.

Other than an informational marker beside the parking lot, however, there's little sign that a violent slave uprising was plotted near this peaceful park more than 200 years ago.

Historic marriage united two worlds

On April 10 of this year, just days before the much-heralded celebration across the Atlantic uniting Kate Middleton and Prince William, some 200 onlookers gathered by the lake at Dorey Park to witness the royal wedding of the century.

The 17th century, that is.

In a simple ceremony, with members of the Varina Women's Club, the Chickahominy and Nansemond Indian tribes, and re-enactors from Henricus Historical Park observing and participating, an Indian maiden and a young gentleman joined hands and recited age-old vows: "to love, comforte [and] honour . . for richer, for poorer, in sickenes and in healthe."

Battle displayed the ‘Heights’ of bravery

Whatever else might be said about Union Major Gen. Benjamin F. Butler – once described as “militarily inept but politically well-connected” – he can hardly be accused of slacking in his preparations for the 1864 conflict that we know as the Battle of New Market Heights.

In the weeks leading up to the battle, Butler put together some 16 pages of instructions outlining his proposal to attack Confederate forces on the outskirts of Richmond.

Having observed Union failures in July and August to penetrate the defenses on the Confederate left, he devised a two-pronged surprise attack on the right and center, utilizing a new pontoon bridge that would supplement the bridge already in existence at Deep Bottom.

Mt. Malady: ‘For their comfort and recoverie’

About 25 years ago, according to Dennis A. J. Morey, leaders of Henrico Doctors' Hospital got into a discussion about whether the institution could claim the banner of Henrico's first hospital.

When officials looked into their hold on that claim, however, it turned out that they had been well off the mark.
More than three centuries off, as a matter of fact.


And that, Morey told a lecture audience, was how he got involved with the Henricus Foundation.

Address change provided revenue, identity

For years, a curious thing was happening to some of the tax money due to Henrico County.

It was being paid to the City of Richmond instead.

How much, exactly, county officials had no way of knowing, but they conservatively estimated their losses between $5 million and $12 million annually.

America’s first university – almost

Students and alumni of the College of William & Mary take pride in the fact that theirs is the second-oldest college in America, pre-dated only by Harvard.

Those in the know – and with a competitive bent – like to point out that when it comes to vision, forethought, and planning for the university, W&M beat Harvard to the punch by decades.

The first university in America actually was chartered in 1618, and slated for construction on 10,000 riverfront acres in what is now Varina.

A legacy of learning

Long before laptops and student achievement were winning accolades and bringing national attention to Henrico schools, an educator of slight build but powerful personality had already put them on the map.

The child of former slaves, Virginia Estelle Randolph was born in Richmond in 1874, and began teaching school in Goochland County at the age of 16.

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