Built in 1857, the Bolling Haxall House has been home to the Woman’s Club of Richmond, Virginia since 1990. The Italian Villa style mansion was originally built for Bolling Walker Haxall, an heir to a flour-milling fortune, and hosts ballets, theater productions, and weddings. The house is a Virginia Historic Landmark and has been restored and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Bolling Walker Haxall had the house modeled after a home he was inspired by in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Haxall was a partner of Haxall Mills, which was one of the world’s largest flour mills. He was one of Richmond’s richest citizens, and he was the president of Old Dominion Iron and Nail Works. Haxall was also part owner of Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Company.
After the Civil War and the burning of Richmond, Haxall moved his family, including wife Anne Haxall, to a home in Orange County, Virginia. After the war, Haxall returned to the house, but he found that he couldn’t afford to support it since he had lost many of his businesses in the fires. In 1869, he sold the house to Dr. Francis T. Willis, a physician, for $28,000. Willis died in 1890, and he left the home to his grandson Edward Jones Willis. In 1900, the Woman’s Club bought the home from Dr. Willis’ grandson for $20,000. Since then, the house has been the permanent home of the Woman’s Club.
At the entrance of the house, there are two horse-head hitch posts that once were placed at the Capital Square. There early legislators of Virginia tied their horses and carriages there. The cast-iron fence surrounding the front yard was built by George Lownes, who was a notable ironworker in Richmond, Virginia.
Restorations of the house were made possible by the Bolling Haxall House Foundation that was created in 1990. The nonprofit organization raises funds for maintaining the home through donations from the community. An additional auditorium, called the Beaux Arts auditorium, was built in 1915, and the interior of the home was restored in 1988. Structural and roof repairs were made in 2009 to save the home.
The Woman’s Club has over 1,500 members and serves as a reminder of the history women have molded for themselves. Once believed to be a distraction from domestic responsibilities at home or serve as headquarters for women to promote women’s suffrage and rights, the Woman’s Club serves as a community of women who have shaped their futures and laid the ground for women after them. Notable Woman’s Club members are Mary-Cooke Branch Munford, who was an education reformer, and Ellen McCaw Davenport, music and literary arts patron. The Woman’s Club now hosts weddings, ballets, theater productions, and other activities in the Bolling Haxall House.