The Richmond History Podcast

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lafayette Tree in RVA

A tree planted in 1824 for the Marquis De Lafayette
On a recent trip to the Museum of the Confederacy, one of the employees told me a story that usually doesn't make it on the tours and that starts way before the Civil War.

front of the White House of the Confederacy, photo by Jeff Majer
What is today known as the White House of the Confederacy (it isn’t white) was built in 1818 for Dr. John Brockenbrough in the Courts End District and was designed by the celebrated architect Robert Mills.1  In 1824-25 the famed Frenchmen the Marquis De Lafayette from American Revolution fame, made a triumphant tour of the US.  One of his stops was in RVA to the future residence of the first family of the Confederacy.  At the time, the house was still occupied by the Brockenbroughs, was relatively new, and was smaller.  The present day top floor wasn't added until after the house was purchased by the Crenshaw's, a Richmond flour family in 1857.2 
The almost 200 year old tree behind the White House of the Confederacy form outside the garden, photo by Jeff Majer 

As Lafayette traveled trees were planted in his honor, including the one that still stands in the southwest corner of the Garden of the White House of the Confederacy.  There is no plaque or recognition of any type that I can find.
The 200 year old Lafayette tree from inside the Garden, photo by Jeff Majer

I can only assume that the 2 photos below show Richmond's Lafayette tree. The top shows it peaking in on the right side and below it show the tree small with no leaves.
The White House of the Confederacy

The White House of the Confederacy
The only evidence that I could find of another tree planted for Lafayette was in Boston.  It lived for 130 years before being replaced by an elm that is now called the "Lafayette Liberty Elm".3  I think the one at the White House is also an elm but I am asking for anyone with more arbor knowledge to confirm that.

For more information on visiting the Museum of the Confederacy and the White House of the Confederacy go to



  1. I pinched this for the Greater Jackson Ward News.

  2. Please do. It is posted to be read. Thanks.