High Street exhibits a wide variety of 19th-century architectural styles. Viewed from Market Street, on the north side of High Street are May’s Row (## 217, 219, 221 and 223) and Smith’s Row (##209, 211, and 215). Smith’s row is a well detailed example of Federal townhouses. May’s Row is a well detailed example of Italianate style Houses. On the south side of High Street is Baltimore Row (## 230, 232, 235, 236 and 238), built in 1870 on the site of the first Second Presbyterian Church which had been organized in 1841. A great many more residences can be found on High Street.
Smith’s Row takes its name from John H. Smith, an Irishman,
who purchased the ground on which the house stands in 1834 and was built
between 1834 and 1838. Smith, a veteran
of the Petersburg Volunteers in the War of 1812, was a substantial stockholder
in railroad companies and had substantial investments in various manufacturing
enterprises in Petersburg. Among the
residents of Smith’s Row have been Pleasants C. Osborne, a cashier of the
Petersburg Branch of the Farmers Bank and Charles Jackson Pannill who in 1906
sent the first wireless message across the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to
May’s Row takes its name from its builder David May, a
prominent attorney described by Rev. Philip Slaughter as “counsellor of the
widow, the orphan, and the poor, and peacemaker.” He was married to the
daughter of John Pegram, major-general with the Virginia forces in the War of
1812 and Member of Congress. Three of
his sons gave their lives during the Civil War, two of them at the second
Battle of Manassas.
High Street lies in the area annexed to Petersburg in the
late 18th century. Virtually every late 18th- and early 19th-century style of
architecture popular in the United States is represented in the district.
Noteworthy examples include the Strachan-Harrison house (302 Cross Street, mid-
to late 18th century), the John F. Clay house (244 High Street, Federal, ca.
1810), six late Georgian/early Federal houses on High Street (265, 311, 320,
416, 545, and 614), and a fine collection of 1 ½ -story worker houses dating to
the first quarter of the 19th century. A four-block area on High Street
contains a rich mixture of 19th-century architecture including representatives
of late Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Romanesque
Revival, Queen Anne, and Colonial/Georgian Revival styles.