An 1850s-era townhouse on a visible street corner in Monroe Ward is now in the hands of a local church after a seven-figure deal.
Remnant Church purchased the Smith-Palmer House at 211 W. Franklin St., where it plans to house offices for Grimké Seminary, its pastor training arm.
The church, which has locations in Shockoe Bottom and on Arthur Ashe Boulevard, paid $1.15 million for the three-story, 5,700-square-foot building. It previously housed offices for Sandpiper Hospitality, a hotel group now based in Henrico’s Glen Forest Office Park.
The transaction closed Feb. 19. Jeff Cooke and Reilly Marchant with Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer represented Remnant in the deal.
Mahood Fonville with Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville Real Estate had the listing for Sandpiper, which had owned the building since 2008 through an entity called West Franklin Partners LLC. City property records show it paid $1.13 million for the building at the time. The latest city assessment valued the 0.16-acre property at $957,000.
Sean Pyle, Remnant’s executive pastor for operations, said the building was appealing to the church for its downtown location and previous use as offices. He said the seminary staff plans to move in as soon as possible.
“The Palmer House is about two miles from our property on the boulevard, and it’s just under two miles from the church’s other property on 19th Street, so it’s kind of right in the middle,” Pyle said.
“It’s a good area of the city, it’s a historic block, which is great. We love the history of the city and all of the historic architecture. We like to see those things continue on and upheld and utilized well. The layout of this space works really well for how we’re staffed right now, so it ended up being a perfect fit.”
Approaching its 12th year, Remnant started out at 12 N. 19th St. in the Bottom and expanded to the Fan in 2018, when it bought the nearly century-old Boulevard United Methodist Church at 321 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. for $1.25 million.
The Smith-Palmer House, built in 1852, is part of the Two Hundred Block West Franklin Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On a corner across from the Graduate Richmond hotel, and a block west from The Jefferson Hotel, the house stands out to downtown-bound commuters at the signalized intersection of Franklin and Madison streets.
Preservation group Historic Richmond describes the house as a notable example of Richmond’s Greek Revival townhouse architecture, “remarkable for its exceptionally fine interior trim and for its high-quality craftsmanship.” The house is one of few antebellum structures remaining downtown.
Fonville marketed the building for use as either an office building or residence. It had been put on and off the market multiple times since 2019 with several price changes, reaching $1.17 million last September before going under contract in mid-December.
The house is the latest building on that Franklin Street block to change hands in recent years. A few doors away, Metro Properties purchased the Mayo-Carter House in 2018 for $1.12 million. The 1890s-era building, at 205 W. Franklin St., had been home to Junior League of Richmond for more than 40 years.
Later that year, farther east along Franklin, the Stewart-Lee House at 707 E. Franklin St. sold for $808,000 to local nonprofit The Family Foundation. The building, constructed in 1844, was previously owned by Home Builders Association of Virginia.