Housing nonprofit to transfer Jackson Ward properties to The JXN Project

Land in Richmond donated to historic preservation group

The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust recently approved the donation of parcels on North Third, East Preston and East Bates streets to a local preservation group, which plans to build a historic interpretation site dedicated to Jackson Ward’s first black homeowner. (Jack Jacobs photo)

The stage has been set for a handful of Jackson Ward properties to be transformed into a tribute to the neighborhood’s first known black homeowner.

The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust last month approved the donation of 10 parcels on North Third, East Preston and East Bates streets to The JXN Project, a local historic preservation nonprofit group.

The JXN Project’s plan is to develop the nearly half-acre assemblage into a historical interpretation site centered on a re-creation of the Skipwith-Roper Cottage faithful to the original structure.

The original Skipwith-Roper Cottage was built by Abraham Peyton Skipwith in the 1790s in Jackson Ward. Skipwith was the first known black homeowner in the neighborhood. The home was relocated in the 1950s to Goochland County to preserve it when construction of Interstate 95 sliced through Jackson Ward, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.

“In the wake of its year-long sesquicentennial celebration of Jackson Ward, JXN is shifting its focus to reconstructing the property of the ward’s first known black homeowner, Abraham Peyton Skipwith,” the group said in a prepared statement. “The reconstructed property will be established as a historic site for interpretative purposes.”

The preservation group was founded by sisters Sesha and Enjoli Moon in 2020, as an effort to celebrate Jackson Ward’s 150th anniversary. It’s initial initiatives including installing honorary street signs in the neighborhood.

The group declined to provide further comment for this story.

In addition to the replica cottage, the site would also include parking, greenspace and office space, according to a project proposal report.

The properties involved are 1001, 1005, 1007, 1009 and 1011 N. Third St.; 302, 304 and 306 E. Preston St.; and 303 and 305 E. Bates St. The assemblage is mostly undeveloped except for a duplex.

The properties are collectively valued at about $130,000, according to online city records.

Though the land trust’s board has approved the transfer, the properties aren’t expected to formally change hands until later this year, said board Chairwoman Carolyn Champion, who recently took over the role from Laura Lafayette.

Champion said The JXN Project approached the housing nonprofit about five months ago with the idea. She said the MWCLT decided to donate the properties to The JXN Project because they aren’t seen as ideal for affordable housing development. The land trust provides affordable housing opportunities to would-be homeowners in the region.

“There isn’t an obvious use,” Champion said of the site, which is between Interstate 95 and Shockoe Cemetery. “You could do affordable housing but it’s like a landlocked quarter.”

Land in Richmond donated to historic preservation group

The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust recently approved the donation of parcels on North Third, East Preston and East Bates streets to a local preservation group, which plans to build a historic interpretation site dedicated to Jackson Ward’s first black homeowner. (Jack Jacobs photo)

The stage has been set for a handful of Jackson Ward properties to be transformed into a tribute to the neighborhood’s first known black homeowner.

The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust last month approved the donation of 10 parcels on North Third, East Preston and East Bates streets to The JXN Project, a local historic preservation nonprofit group.

The JXN Project’s plan is to develop the nearly half-acre assemblage into a historical interpretation site centered on a re-creation of the Skipwith-Roper Cottage faithful to the original structure.

The original Skipwith-Roper Cottage was built by Abraham Peyton Skipwith in the 1790s in Jackson Ward. Skipwith was the first known black homeowner in the neighborhood. The home was relocated in the 1950s to Goochland County to preserve it when construction of Interstate 95 sliced through Jackson Ward, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.

“In the wake of its year-long sesquicentennial celebration of Jackson Ward, JXN is shifting its focus to reconstructing the property of the ward’s first known black homeowner, Abraham Peyton Skipwith,” the group said in a prepared statement. “The reconstructed property will be established as a historic site for interpretative purposes.”

The preservation group was founded by sisters Sesha and Enjoli Moon in 2020, as an effort to celebrate Jackson Ward’s 150th anniversary. It’s initial initiatives including installing honorary street signs in the neighborhood.

The group declined to provide further comment for this story.

In addition to the replica cottage, the site would also include parking, greenspace and office space, according to a project proposal report.

The properties involved are 1001, 1005, 1007, 1009 and 1011 N. Third St.; 302, 304 and 306 E. Preston St.; and 303 and 305 E. Bates St. The assemblage is mostly undeveloped except for a duplex.

The properties are collectively valued at about $130,000, according to online city records.

Though the land trust’s board has approved the transfer, the properties aren’t expected to formally change hands until later this year, said board Chairwoman Carolyn Champion, who recently took over the role from Laura Lafayette.

Champion said The JXN Project approached the housing nonprofit about five months ago with the idea. She said the MWCLT decided to donate the properties to The JXN Project because they aren’t seen as ideal for affordable housing development. The land trust provides affordable housing opportunities to would-be homeowners in the region.

“There isn’t an obvious use,” Champion said of the site, which is between Interstate 95 and Shockoe Cemetery. “You could do affordable housing but it’s like a landlocked quarter.”

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Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
3 months ago

So many questions after reading this article. “You could do affordable housing but it’s like a landlocked quarter.” How is that property landlocked and why are these 10 parcels not being developed for affordable housing? It also seems odd that this will be an interpretation site for a structure that currently exists? Why isn’t there a fundraising campaign to purchase that building and move it back to the neighborhood on Duval Street, which has many vacant parcels? I did a quick google search and found this… https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/037-0125_Skipwith-Roper_Cottage_2021_PIF.pdf It shows an aerial shot of what is said to be the “historic… Read more »

Tracey Harvey
Tracey Harvey
3 months ago

Congratulations to The JXN Project, looking forward to seeing what’s to come.

Mark A. Olinger
Mark A. Olinger
3 months ago

This is a wonderful project. Best of luck to everyone involved in this.

Mason Hearn
Mason Hearn
3 months ago

A piece I found regarding Skipwith Cottage today:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAlqzuBPCfs

My firm was engaged in 2004 to relocate and restore this home. The Reeds were committed to doing a first-class job.

There was also a feature (the cover story) in R-Home Magazine about the home, Fall 2007… although I could not find it online.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
3 months ago
Reply to  Mason Hearn

Do you know if the JNX Project has offered to buy the home and have it relocated? It seems a more worthwhile endeavor than raising over $5 million for an “…environmentally sustainable recreation of the Skipwith-Roper Cottage as a historic site…”
It will not be historic or on the original site. Would this not be better suited as an extension of the Black History Museum on Leigh Street?

https://thejxnproject.org/skipwith-roper-homecoming

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
3 months ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

“Muesum-People” sure know how to get a little for a lot…

Throw in “Environmentally Sustainable” and it makes it all okay though.

Hunter Wilson
Hunter Wilson
3 months ago

Describing this corner of NJW as ‘landlocked’ and ‘no obvious use’ ignores current and future market-rate builds in the pipeline only a few blocks away north of the highway on Baker. With other plans in the works to redevelop Gilpin and a highway cap at St. James, the spokesperson is being disingenuous and knows it. A historical interpretation site honoring the first black homeowner in North Jackson Ward will take up land that should have been used to create more homeownership opportunities for that population. It appears the MWCLT is deviating from its mission – the city should re-evaluate offloading… Read more »

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
3 months ago
Reply to  Hunter Wilson

Well, she used the work “like” to preface the landlocked description so therefore she doesn’t need to be accurate.