Marissa Hermanson walks her dog, Harvey, on Westmoreland Street. (Photo by Jay Paul)
After living in Richmond for a few years, my husband and I decided it was due time to put down roots and purchase our first home. We traded in our old, rambling Fan flat for a cute Cape Cod in the quiet, family-friendly Near West End. Just a quick bike ride from our old stomping grounds and a short drive to downtown, we have found the perfect balance of city life and domesticity.
The Near West End became part of the City of Richmond during a boundary expansion in 1914. After a significant land annexation campaign between 1906 and 1914, the city grew more than 400 percent. This was an attempt to enlarge the tax base and middle-class population, along with creating more room for residential development in Richmond.
In the 1920s, when spice and extract king Conrad Frederick Sauer Sr. started dabbling in development, he created a lush botanical garden in the 4300 block of Monument Avenue for his namesake subdivision, Sauer’s Garden, which is where we currently live. After the park became overgrown, the Monument Park townhomes were built on the site in the 1980s.
Easy access to Monument Avenue means miles of paved sidewalks for walking and jogging. For interval training, head to Thomas Jefferson High School’s track. Mary Munford Elementary School has a jungle gym for the little ones and a grassy field for ultimate Frisbee and other games, along with tennis and basketball courts.
With most of the homes built between the 1930s and 1960s, the Near West End is predominantly made up of a mix of Cape Cods and Colonial Revivals with Craftsman-style bungalows and English Tudors here and there.
Known for its fresh catches and juicy slabs of meat, Yellow Umbrella Provisions also offers an array of grab-and-go dishes like deviled eggs, deli salads and all the fixings for a killer antipasto spread. On Thursday through Saturday (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) the delicatessen serves up its signature sandwiches — think fried soft-shell crab and lobster rolls.
Lulabelle’s Cafe will make you nostalgic for Grandma’s cooking with its from-scratch Southern-inspired dishes — crab muffins, quiche du jour, fried-green-tomato BLTs, and there’s always a fresh-baked pie. Bonus: The eatery now serves brunch on the weekend.
With the arrival of Stella’s Grocery, you no longer have to linger at the bar while waiting for a coveted table to open up. Just run across the street to the new sister market, grab pastitsio and a six-pack of Greek beers, and take your meal to go.
Stella's Grocery offers grab-and-go Greek favorites and specialty foods. (Photo by Marissa Hermanson)
On the corner of Patterson and Libbie avenues, Vignettes Westhampton sells hand-painted furniture, up-cycled decor and boho chic clothing and jewelry, along with a handful of antique pieces. I recently scored a beautiful brass chandelier from the store that now hangs at the top of our stairs.
Housed in a rambling old blue house just off Patterson Avenue, Book People is stacked from floor to ceiling with new and gently used books. Be sure to explore their section on Virginia history.
The Greenhouse II’s mini terrariums, potted plants and succulent arrangements are perfect for gifts and sprucing up your abode.
When in need of a new piece of furniture for our house, I hit up my favorite second-hand stores — Susan’s Selections, Verve Home Furnishings and Born Again Furnishings — all off Broad Street and within a half mile from one another.
Verve Home Furnishings specializes in funky, Midcentury modern décor. (Photo by Marissa Hermanson)