This is Part 3 of Blog Series: The Seven Hills of Richmond, VA. Find the Intro here. Libby Hill
Libby Hill Park has one of the most scenic overviews in the city that really shows the beauty of the city as it is one of the highest points in the city.
Governor George Smith and Colonel George Mayo Carrington, however, their homes have since been demolished. Most of Libby Hill residents were of the higher political ranking. The only home currently standing from the pre-war era is the home of John Gentry, sitting at 100 North 28th Street. Th Gentry-Stokes-Crew home was originally a one-story home until 1854, when a second story was built on. This historic landmark still has the original kitchen, living quarters, and slave living spaces. Tours are available during the holiday season.
Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument stands today in the center of Libby Hill Park. Unfortunately, history was not so kind to Mr. Libby. After the Civil War broke out, and the First Battle of Bull run, the Confederate Army took possession of his warehouse to house prisoners. Libby left so quickly that no one removed the "Libby & Son" sign, and the building became known as Libby Prison.
Libby Prison became a dark stain in the history of Richmond in 1862. The prison gained an infamous reputation for harsh conditions, neglect, overcrowding and a high mortality rate. As the prisoners were treated harshly they were starved, turning to eating anything they could find, including rats that has infested the building. Over 1,000 prisoners were crowded into large open rooms on two floors, with open, barred windows. The inmates were exposed to severe weather and temperature extremes. As a result of the high death toll, it is generally regarded as only second in notoriety to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. The structure was moved to Chicago in 1889 to serve as a war museum- and finally dismantled in 1899, with its pieces sold as souvenirs. However, there is a window from Libby Prison preserved at the Virginia Historical Society museum if you wish to see it.
William Byrd II, who was standing at Libby Hill park overlooking the city and he noted that it resembled the view of Richmond upon the Thames in England. So, the city was named. Today, that view is preserved and you can enjoy the same view William Byrd II had seen so many years ago. Libby Hill is as timeless as Richmond herself. And her beginnings can be traced along the older streets and overlooks all around her.