Count yourself as old school Richmond if you remember that the Museum District used to be called West of the Boulevard, which isn’t a name as much as it is a place on a map.
Located west of the Fan District, with the obvious border of the Boulevard and the less obvious Powhite Parkway, the Museum District might just be Richmond’s most walkable neighborhood. It’s a truly great area for a wide variety of reasons. Largely built during the early to middle 20th century, the Museum District lays out similarly to the Fan and Jackson Ward—city blocks, a grid system—with the majority of the housing stock being row homes, both attached and detached, with a larger contingent of sizable stand-alone homes along some its northern streets.
The renaming of the Museum District stemmed from an effort to seize upon the neighborhood’s cultural assets—the fantastic museums that line the Boulevard. Some people still resist the new name, though, clinging to West of the Boulevard or even the Upper Fan.
The museums are fantastic, but many argue that the neighborhood’s best draw is Carytown. Developed as “The West End’s” shopping district in the 1920s, this seven-block stretch of shopping, entertainment, and services runs from the Windsor Farms neighborhood to the Fan District.
Carytown offers a rich mix of posh boutiques and thrift shops, sandwich shops and fine dining. The famed Byrd Theater and Richmond’s first strip shopping center, Cary Court, anchor the corridor. Grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, fast food, you name it, there’s a good chance Carytown’s got it. With such a wide variety of stores and services, traffic remains consistent most days, throughout the entire year.
The Museum District’s boasts a residential mix that’s as eclectic as the retail in Carytown. Multi-family rentals are a bit more economical than those in the Fan: smaller, less likely to be renovated, but certainly much more affordable.
Single-family housing runs the gamut. You’ll find cozier, more affordable homes close to Carytown, along Elwood, Park, and Patterson Avenues. Larger and better preserved homes spread around the district, including a beautiful stretch on Grove Avenue, and West Franklin’s gas light blocks, in the far northwest corner of the district, where wide streets and larger lots predominate, creating an environment unique from other patches in the Museum District or Fan District. Many upper blocks along Kensington and Hanover feature Tudor-style homes, adding another unique element to this eclectic area of the city.
The Museum District’s greatest strength is that it refuses to be pigeonholed. Diversity in housing, dining and entertainment, history and culture, the Museum District has something for pretty much everyone.
Rick Jarvis is one of the founding partners of the One South Realty Group and specializes in the condominium market. Having represented numerous projects in many neighborhoods throughout the Metro, developers consider One South as the premier mixed-use urban brokerage in Richmond. In addition to condos, Rick has brokered several adaptive re-use properties for conversion as well as many upscale residential homes.