Branch House

BranchHouse.jpg
Richmond, VA
United States
Branch House

Completed in 1919 for industrialist John Kerr Branch Jr., this Tudor mansion was designed by architects John Russell Pope and Otto Eggers to occupy a prominent position at the terminus of Monument Avenue adjacent to the colonnaded monument to Jefferson Davis. The architects sited Branch’s massive house on axis with the nearby neoclassical Union Station, also designed by Pope. The house, surrounded by a brick wall and constructed of distressed sandstone to emulate a sense of antiquity, was oriented to the north to frame views of the railroad station and the Davis monument. Serving as the couple’s winter home, Pope’s garden design was, relative to the house, modest. Branch owned half of the block while his sister owned the other. Because she never constructed a house, the surrounding real estate was never developed. As other houses were eventually constructed and Monument Avenue expanded, the Branch House remained somewhat isolated on its two-acre lot.

Over the years, the house served as offices for a number of non-profit organizations. In 1975 local architectural historian Drew Carneal was commissioned to restore the gardens. Descending from the mansion’s southern façade, two slate terraces open to a wide swath of lawn enclosed by brick paths. Dogwoods are positioned at the foot of the terrace and specimen oaks, maples, and magnolias line the lawn. Two large, asymmetrically placed Japanese maples and a row of laurel delineate the garden space, still enclosed by the brick wall. The Branch House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and today serves as the Virginia Center for Architecture.