The Virginia Home: then, now, and tomorrow.
Born into a prominent Virginia family, Mary Tinsley Greenhow was just a teenager when she fell from a horse in the 1860s. The split-second catch of the horse’s hoof on a wooden bridge left the young Richmonder with a paralyzing back injury. She would never recover.
Mary soon realized there were people who did not have families offering the same comfort of long-term care that she was given. So, Mary’s wheels started turning—she envisioned a place where people with physical disabilities could receive the care, companionship, and security they would need for the rest of their lives.
The First Home
To raise needed funds, Mary began to crochet mats, which she sold to friends and family. The small amount she made from the sale of these mats seeded a fund that subsequently established the first residential care facility for adults with permanent disabilities in Virginia. In 1894, this home, named ‘The Virginia Home for Incurables’ opened on Ross Street with eight residents. Almost immediately, it was filled to capacity.
The Second Home
Through tireless fundraising and due to overwhelming need, Greenhow’s project quickly expanded. The second Home opened in 1898 at West Broad and Robinson streets. It met its capacity of 59 residents in the mid-1920s. Volunteer doctors provided medical services, and Confederate veterans from the nearby Old Soldiers’ Home often walked over to offer help. Miss Greenhow remained president of The Home for ten years, with an all-female board overseeing operations and volunteerism, on which the residents relied.
The Third Home (and current location)
By 1931, The Home yet again outgrew its space and moved to its current Byrd Park neighborhood, where care expanded to about one hundred residents by mid-century. During World War II, militiamen stationed at the park helped attend to residents, often lifting them in and out of bed. In turn, the residents contributed to the war effort by rolling bandages, sewing, and stripping tin foil.
Renamed The Virginia Home in the 1960s, The Virginia Home has since undergone several expansions and numerous improvements. Today, Miss Greenhow’s legacy is a modern, thriving facility home to 130 men and women from every corner of the Commonwealth. The Home remains the only facility of its kind in Virginia, a unique model for residential, therapeutic, and long-term nursing care of adults.
With the continued help of our staff, volunteers, board members, donations, and residents, there is no doubt The Virginia Home will remain to serve Virginians with disabilities in the only way we know how—with compassion.