Those Who Came Before
6514 Patterson Ave.
- W. Bowman Wiltshire seems to have built the stone house around 1927.
- The property went to widow Linda and sons Ellsworth
- and Hunter.
- Ellsworth Wiltshire, a lawyer and professor at the University of Richmond's T.C. Williams School of Law, lived there with wife Elizabeth and son Rives.
- After Ellsworth moved, brother Hunter took over the property.
- The Markow family bought the house in 1956.
- The present owner purchased the house from the Markow estate in 1989.
6512 Patterson Ave.
- James Wirt Hancock and wife, Laura, purchased the house
- in 1927.
- Hancock died, age 76 in 1942.
- His wife, Laura, inherited the house and died Aug. 17, 1959.
- The property has changed hands twice since 1959.
You drive by them heading west. They are the imposing stone two-story residences on the right near the corner of Patterson Avenue and Roxbury Road. It's a part of town that hasn't been researched as part of the historic designation process. Therefore, like beautiful sisters, 6512 and 6514 Patterson Ave. both maintain an aura of mystery.
When built during the mid-1920s, they were in Henrico County. A 1942 annexation created a boundary line between Henrico and Richmond across the back of the two properties, so that thereafter the houses were in the city while the garages stayed in the county. Unfortunately, Henrico destroys its building permits every seven years; thus, the names of the architect and contractor are in all likelihood lost.
Jennie Dotts knows about 6514 Patterson Ave. A member of the family that operated Markow Florist, she spent her youth there. She started the Alliance for the Conservation of Old Richmond Neighborhoods and is now a partner with Old House Authority and a historic Realtor with Virginia Properties.
Proving the adage about the cobbler's children going without new shoes, Dotts says of the house's origin story, "That's a very good question." She recalls her father, Joseph Markow, speaking about sculptor and plaster artist Ferruccio Legnaioli, who created the house's interior plasterwork. Legnaioli, active in the 1920s and 1930s, made the Columbus statue near the Byrd Park tennis courts and the First Virginia Regiment "Minuteman" monument in the Fan's Meadow Park. He either installed or created adornments for the National and Byrd theaters, as well as the interior details of many other public and private buildings.
Dotts compares the Patterson Avenue houses to a stone Tudor cottage at 3404 Monument Ave., between Roseneath and Thompson Sts. The Monument house was built in 1925-26 by contractor Robert L. Wallerstein after being designed by architect Carl Max Lindner Sr. His work includes Monument's flatiron-shaped Lord Fairfax Apartments and a parade of eclectic cottages from 3117 to 3131 on the avenue. He also designed houses in Hampton Gardens off Cary Street Road.
The Patterson Avenue houses could be Lindner's handiwork, but absent Henrico County records, it's impossible to know for sure. While rumors abound, facts about the houses are difficult to come by. If anyone has any further information about the origins of the houses or their past residents (see box) please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 355-0111 ext. 317.