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East End News

ArchitectureRichmond: The Adam Craig House

ArchitectureRichmond has a look at the architecture and history of the Adam Craig House:

For a hint of what 18th century Richmond might have looked like there are few better places to examine than the Adam Craig House, an evocative dwelling that sits kitty-corner at the southeast corner of the intersection of East Grace and North 19th streets in Shockoe Bottom. Its lot fills a quarter of the city block, a configuration that follows the establishment of the city grid system of 1737.

The date of the houses is subject to question but it may have been built in 1784, two years after its owner, Adam Craig, moved from Williamsburg to Richmond.

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9 comments

Holly 08/07/2017 at 12:16 PM

Lovely home

Reply
Eric S. Huffstutler 08/07/2017 at 11:07 PM

The HRF relies heavily on the Mutual Assurance policies and the first one issued for this house, and other long gone buildings, was issued on February 18, 1796.

Madge Goodrich, who worked the WPA historic home research papers, lists a succession of deeds for the property that includes what was then, Lot 86, where the house sits today. Property transfers by value, did not reflect a large improvement up through 1791. In 1790, it appears that Adam Craig and John John Cunliffe purchased several lots at the same time together and were dividing them up between them. It shows that Craig owned the western half of Lot 85, which was on the opposite corner at 18th and Cary and Cunliffe owned Lot 86 at 19th and Cary, where the house would be built… but appears to be undeveloped at that time. It also shows that Cunliffe sold Lot 86 to a Joseph Simpson, the following year. Then, there is a big gap with Goodrich’s researched deeds until 1822.

The MA policy #42 of 1796, says that Craig purchased the small buildings and a house on the property from Simpson. Policy #41, which shows the main house, and was registered the same day, says it was situated between the house he purchased from Simpson and the street.

Because there does not seem to be any buildings situated on the lot per deeds in 1791 (and not owned by him then) but a insurance policy was issued in 1796, it seems impossible to put the 1784 date on it but more likely 1796. But, plaques say he built it between sometime between 1784-1787 but how and who did this research? Puzzles 🙂

The next thing would be to look at land tax records to see how much was being paid those years and when the amount jumped indicating an improvement which will give an indication of the actual construction year.

Either way yes, it is a wonderful example of rare 18th century architecture in Richmond.

Eric

Reply
Eric S. Huffstutler 08/07/2017 at 11:10 PM

Sorry for any typos with this quick history done on the fly late at night 🙂

Reply
Eric S. Huffstutler 08/08/2017 at 9:22 AM

To add more confusion, going by just the MA policies and deeds, there is a possibility that the house could have actually been built by Simpson and not Craig. The MA policy that shows the main house, did not distinguish that Craig built it, and did not indicate it was “new” as with other MA policies. It did say he purchased the other house and buildings from Simpson. Of course, I am not taking into consideration that there may be other personal papers left by Craig that could state differently? Does anyone know right off? It would not be the first incorrect building history that I have run across. One I am working on now and another involves our own house.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 08/08/2017 at 9:59 AM

Also, as I mentioned… a typo as I mentioned 19th and Cary when it is 19th and Grace 🙂 That is what you get typing too quickly and on the fly. I did catch the mistakes after proofing… later, and would have corrected them myself if there was an edit option.

The MA maps also shows the main house with a footprint of 42×16 feet, which is the correct size and it too had an ‘L’ leg extension BUT, it was sitting squarely on Grace Street with the front porch extending out into it. The other buildings surrounded it that Simpson owned so…again, was it Simpson who built it? And, when was the main house moved to its current angled position post 1796? Or was it? The original ‘L’ may have been the house that Craig purchased from Simpson and added the wider main portion of the house to it or… may have already been there? And, is the house we have today the same exact one, only moved back from the street and at an angle… or was it a newer later built one?

The way the properties that Craig and Cunliffe purchased together and divided up the lots amongst them, were a bit random. The policy also shows a 20 foot gap between the main house and the imaginary division of lot 86 to the right of the house and the corner of 19th and Grace. And, the house was on the lot border lines of lots 85 and 86.

Reply
Dale Virginia Burch-caronna 11/14/2017 at 1:24 PM

Do you have any information regarding the home being inhabited by the “Burch” family? My cousin is investigating our family history in VA. And found our daily lived in the Craig House. Campus provide further info. Sincerely Dale Burch

Reply

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