Time Travelers’ Weekend, a twice-yearly event in which 20 local museums offered free admission for the weekend, gave us the perfect opportunity to be tourists in our hometown.
Last week saw the return of Time Travelers’ Weekend, a biannual program in which 20 local museums and historic locations offered free admission, inviting locals and tourists to explore the area’s one-of-a-kind attractions. We had to get in on this ourselves.
Our first stop was the Maymont mansion, located at the heart of Maymont Park. The estate’s grounds are always free to explore, and house Japanese and Italian gardens, a small Virginia wildlife zoo, and the Robins Nature Center, which is a working farm. But on this visit, we grabbed the opportunity for a free tour of the mansion, which was the home of the New South business leader James Dooley and his wife Sallie in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Visiting the Belowstairs area of the home, traditionally the place where the mansion’s servants lived and worked, was a total informational experience. Downstairs service rooms tell the stories of household tasks and bring to life the many challenges faced by those working in domestic service during the era of Jim Crow.
The opportunity to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, located at 1914 East Main Street in Shockoe Bottom, was one we simply couldn’t pass up. It was absolutely sensational, from the blueprint of the home (my dream house would be laid out exactly like this) to the factual aspects of Poe’s life, many of which were new to me. The museum interprets the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe as a groundbreaking literary figure for a modern audience that may be unaware of the extent of his influence, presenting a diverse collection of items related to the poet’s life and writing.
These were only two of the many locations available for free visits over the course of the weekend — and not just the sort of places you’ve been hearing about for years, either. Little-known historical sites like the Courtney Road Service Station, a 1920s gas station preserved for a century, and the Deep Run Schoolhouse, which hosted elementary education and community square dances in the first decade of the 20th century, were also available to tour.
When you live in a place all your life, it can be easy to miss the many intriguing attractions that host thousands of tourists every year. Time Travelers’ Weekend offers Richmond locals the excuse we all need to get out and see the amazing things right here in our hometown. If you didn’t get a chance to experience this one, we highly recommend you keep an eye out for the next one. It’s more than worth it.