A major center for military activity during the Civil War, Richmond’s Chimborazo Hospital opened in October 1861 on Chimborazo Hill as one of the largest military hospitals in the Confederacy. After the Civil War the hospital buildings were reused to create a Freedmen’s community or torn down for firewood; no structures from this period remain.
In 1874, city officials purchased 30 acres on the hill to expand the city’s park system. Developed by city engineer Wilfred Cutshaw and typical of his design aesthetic in the five parks he laid out for Richmond, the park includes winding carriage roads nestled into the steep topography, punctuated with a series of dramatic reveals. The roads established a connection between the Church Hill neighborhood and the traditionally African-American Fulton neighborhood downhill. With a bandstand and refreshment pavilion, a 180-degree view overlooking the James River and the city, and a streetcar connection to downtown, the park became a popular suburban resort for residents and visitors. Today the park also includes a dog park, playground, and eight-and-a-half-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty erected in the 1950s by Boy Scouts.
A 1909 masonry building on the site that once held the U.S. Weather Bureau has belonged to the National Park Service since 1957. Today, it is home to the Richmond Medical Museum, dedicated to the interpretation of the old hospital. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark as part of the Oakwood Chimborazo Historic District in 2005.