Colonial Heights History: Violet Bank

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303 Virginia Avenue
Colonial Heights, VA 23834
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The first recorded settlement in Colonial Heights was by Thomas Shore. In 1775, he purchased 144 acres of land along the northern bank of the Appomattox River, across from Petersburg. There he built his mansion and called it Violet Bank.

Violet Bank sits on lands that were originally patented to Edward Turnstall in 1637. In 1665, George Archer purchased the property. It was at that time that the property, located on the opposite side of the river bank from Petersburg, came to be called Archer’s Hill. Thomas Shore, the first owner of Violet Bank, purchased 144 acres of land from John Martin in 1775. It is uncertain the origin of the name Violet Bank, but it is believed that the name came from a thick growth of violets on the hillside. Another theory is that it is an illusion to a quote from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Shore is believed to have had a set of Shakepeare’s works at Violet Bank.

It is uncertain the origin of the name Violet Bank, but it is believed that the name came from a thick growth of violets on the hillside. Another theory is that it is an illusion to a quote from Shakespeare’sA Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Shore is believed to have had a set of Shakepeare’s works at Violet Bank.




The first house Shore built burned to the ground in 1810 and the existing structure was rebuilt by his widow Jane Grey and her husabnd, Henry Haxall. Grey and Haxall married in 1804 after Shore died. The existing home was completed in 1815. Elizabeth Shore, the eldest daughter of Shore and Grey, inherited the property in 1824.

 

General Lee’s Headquarters During the Siege of Petersburg

In 1864, during the Civil War, Violet Bank became the headquarters for Confederate General Robert E. Lee from June to September of 1864 during the siege of Petersburg. On July 30, 1864 General Lee was at his headquarters at Violet Bank Farm on the north shore of the Appomattox River overlooking Petersburg. There, he received word that Union troops had detonated over 8,000 pounds of gunpowder beneath Confederate defensive lines in what became known as the Battle of the Crater.




Today, Violet Bank is owned by the City of Colonial Heights and serves as a Civil War museum and is a registered Virginia Historic Landmark.

 

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