Fairmount historians out there, Eric Huffstutler needs your help uncovering the history of Fairfield. Does anyone know when the Fairfield Race Course (horse racing) opened and closed? Eric’s request below:
Long before Baseball and Football, Horse Racing was the game of choice which appealed to all social classes. It is said that one of the first, if not “the” first horse races in America occurred in Henrico County around 1674. Those early races were similar to modern-day drag strips where the horses ran on the streets in a straight line.
Oval courses started to show up around the time of the American Revolution, including one that served the Church Hill community called “Fairfield Race Course”. The 56-acre property was situated between current day Fairmount and Fairfield Avenues and at the ends of 25th through 27th Streets in what is now the Peter Paul neighborhood – named after a later owner.
I do know that it was in existence by the year 1800 through recorded race results. Most race tracks disappeared after the Civil War when men and horses were involved and lost in the conflict and the land used for camps. Fairfield is seen as the “old” race course by the 1860s in books and on later maps… and, the lack of any further race notices seem to validate that.
My questions are: What year did Fairfield open and who was the owner? Also, what year did it close and the property transferred to Peter Paul (1842-1906). Early Richmond maps cut short North Church Hill but it is seen on Henrico maps. I have not been able to find detailed 18th Century maps.