HOLMBERG: Monumental task for Monumental Church in Monument City

Posted at 11:30 PM, Apr 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-09 23:32:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Richmond is known as a City of Monuments, but one of its least-known monuments is one of its most renowned.

Monumental Church is considered to be the second most historically significant building in Richmond, after Thomas Jefferson’s State Capitol building.

It’s being restored to its initial greatness – at least as close as possible – for its 200th anniversary late this year . . . right down its original paint scheme.

Monumental Church was built 200 years ago to commemorate the 72 people who died on this exact site during the infamous 1811 Richmond Theatre fire. Their remains are buried in a crypt below.

The church was commissioned by Chief Justice John Marshall and chiefly designed by architect Robert Mills, the man behind the Washington Monument in DC. Mills is considered to be the first American-born architect and a man schooled and greatly influenced by Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson was fond of architectural finishes that made plaster look like marble, or pine like mahogany.

Elaine Tucker-Haviland, a local expert in historic architectural decorative painting shows how she does it in our video report.

And we also got to wander around and film this building, one of America's earliest and most distinctive Greek Revival churches and an important domed structure.

It’s owned by the Historic Richmond Foundation and the restoration is being underwritten by Neil and Sara Belle Novermber, explained Leslie Naranjo, director of Preservation Services for HRF.

There’s a safe, winding staircases, many arched windows, domed masonry and, of course, a domed roof that once was a high point on the Richmond skyline.