The Fan District (Richmond, VA)

The Fan District in Richmond, VA is a historical area.

The Fan in RVA 2

1. The Fan got this name because of the fan shape made as certain streets radiate (or fan) westward from Monroe Park, which creates triangular parks at various intersections.  The radiating streets in the Fan extend west from Belvidere, on the eastern edge of Monroe Park, and go westward to the Boulevard.  However, even with the fan shape, most of the area is divided into a grid of linear streets and square blocks.

2.  The fan is made up of 85 blocks of Victorian residential neighborhood immediately west of the Richmond downtown – and the development followed the tracks of a late 19 century trolley line. One of the most famous streets is Monument Avenue, and some other notable streets (east-west thoroughfares) include Broad Street, Grace Street, Patterson Avenue, Grove Avenue, Floyd Avenue, Main Street, Parkwood Ave, and Cary Street.

3.  There are various architectural styles and building treatments represented among the block after block of brick town houses and row houses, which were mostly built during the first two decades of the 20th century.  Some styles represented are: Italianate, Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles predominate, the Bungalow, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Art Deco.

4. The Fan was originally inherited in part by William Byrd from his uncle, and partly granged by royal Governor William Berkeley in the late 17th century. In the mid-1700′s, this property was developed into farmland by William Byrd II.

5.  The Fan area was pretty much untouched by the Civil War, although Stonewall Jackson trained VMI cadets in Monroe Park and several of the Buildings, which were also used as a hospital. Those buildings now make up Richmond College.  Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is located in the Lower Fan area.

6.  A wonderful history written by Samuel J T Moore, Jr has been saved and may be found here; it was completed in August of 1981, is over 60 pages long, and details social activities, service work, and original Christmas Tour planning from the 60′s and earlier.

7.  An excellent history of the Fan District can be found on the Fan site here. or on Wikipedia here.

8. The Holiday House Tour has a strong history of original art in its promotional materials and a selection of these may be found here.

And for the final two tidbits about the fan, I am adding my personal opinion:

9. Be sure to check out Cary Street in the Fan.  There are stores, skate shops, art places, and all kind of eateries ranging from deli’s to French cuisine.  There are bike taxis available throughout the year, but walking down Cary Street is an adventure as well – so be sure to carve out some time to explore Cary Street for a few hours, because chances are you will find something that will bring you back for another visit.

10. The final comment about the Fan is that it is sometimes comes across as niche snobby.  And what I mean by that is to say that some people who really love this area, well sometimes they have such a passion that comes across in different ways!  And it is a passionate hat not everyone else feels to the same degree.  Not everyone thinks this area is the Cat’s Meow .  And while it may have some parts that are edgy and while the architecture, culture, and overall feel of the neighborhood has a unique feel, it definitely targets a certain taste.

Many times college students find reprieve in the Fan District and take up residence in one the many apartments or bungalow!  There are also wealthy and affluent families enjoying the lush homes this neighborhood offers, even though most homes do not have driveways or garages.  The area also offers plenty of middle class houses, and basically – there is something for everyone, especially because if “old home” is not your thing, there are some brand new homes to be found, or some remodels that capture the charm of old, but perks of updated!  Indeed, the Fan area is a beautiful 85 block neighborhood, and the appeal for many people can be seen just by taking a drive through the streets.


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