Monday, May 9, 2011

Pratt's Castle - 1865

Built in 1854 by William Abbott Pratt, Pratt's Castle was located at 324 South 4th Street in Gamble's Hill. The house survived over 100 years, the Civil War, and two fires in the mid 20th century before being bought by Albemarle Paper (later Ethyl Corporation, now NewMarket). In 1958 it was torn down by Ethyl after executives scoffed at preservationists' attempts to save the building.

This image is one side of a stereograph glass negative, and was taken April 8th, 1865, only a few days after a large part of downtown Richmond burned when Confederate troops set fire to downtown warehouses while retreating.

Click the photo below for the high resolution image.

Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress


  1. Wow, the executives were rediculous enough to tear this down.

  2. One of my aunts talks about exploring this when she was a kid, and how spooky it was. I would love to see interior shots.

  3. It's a shame! I would have loved to see this structure today!

  4. My parents lived in an apartment in the castle in the late 1940's. Mom said Edgar Allen Poe resided there at some point.

  5. My mother grew up in the castle in the 30's ( i think). Her family name was Robertson. I guess there is a hotel in Richmond that use to have aligators in its fountain. Those were a sick joke of a cousin who disliked my Grandmother and would send wild animals to my mother and her sister as presents.

    1. The alligators were in the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Now I think there is just a statue.

  6. I understand that Gen C.F. Henningsen and his wife resided there during the war, and it had a great view of the city.

  7. i have the gates from the castle

  8. My father lived in the apartment around back in the mid-50s and stayed there until it was torn down. I loved that place it was straight out of a storybook of knights and ladies fair to me. In the back courtyard grew a wall of pink roses that were the most beautiful I've ever seen.
    Third Street was still there at that time too, the 19th C. houses chockablock with marble fireplaces, ironwork porches, plasterwork ceilings, just beautiful. Shame on Ethyl for destroying all of that history.
    The older couple who lived in the Castle were just the nicest people and would take us on tours of the interior
    There was a rumour that a secret tunnel lead down under Gamble's Hill to the James but I'm not sure if that was true. Fun memories.