Explore the Past - More Science Museum History

Sally Bell’s Kitchen:

Sally Bell’s Kitchen
Sally Bell’s Kitchen, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)


Box Lunch
Sally Bell’s Kitchen box lunch, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)


If you’d like to experience a piece of Richmond’s culinary history, walk over to the south side of Broad Street, just east of Davis Avenue, where you’ll find Sally Bell’s Kitchen. Founded in 1924 by Sarah “Sallie” Cabell Jones, the restaurant was originally called Sarah Lee Kitchen and sold sandwiches, salads and baked goods created by a racially integrated and dedicated staff of women. In 1959, Jones agreed to accept a settlement from the larger Sara Lee company and change her business name to Sally Bell’s Kitchen. The restaurant is known for its box lunches, which include a choice of sandwich, a salad (such as Sally Bell’s popular potato salad), a deviled egg, a pecan-topped cheese wafer, and a frosted upside-down cupcake. In 2015, the James Beard Foundation designated Sally Bell’s Kitchen an American Classic, an award given to “regional establishments, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal.” Sally Bell’s Kitchen is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (2337 W. Broad St., 0.2 miles from Science Museum Eastbound GRTC Pulse Station, 0.1 mile from Science Museum Westbound GRTC Pulse Station.)

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts:

Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 1, for Confederate Veterans
Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 1, for Confederate Veterans, late-19th century (The Valentine, Cook Collection)


Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2019 (Photo by Tre Rockenbach)

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) opened in 1936 at the corner of Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Grove Avenue on land that from 1884 to 1941 was the Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 1, for destitute Confederate veterans.  The only remnants of the Confederate camp visible today are the Robinson House (1851), which houses an exhibition about the property’s history as well as a Richmond Region Visitor Center, and the Confederate Memorial Chapel (1887), which is open for viewing during museum hours.  As a result of a 1947 donation, the VMFA owns the largest public collection outside of Russia of imperial Fabergé eggs, commissioned between 1885 and 1917 as Easter gifts by Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II. The VMFA’s permanent collection, which is open daily at no cost, encompasses galleries of African, American, Asian, European and Modern art, ancient artifacts (including an Egyptian mummy), Art Nouveau and Art Deco furniture and decorative art, and a sculpture garden located behind the museum.  Special ticketed exhibitions are held throughout the year. The VMFA also includes a theater, café, fine-dining restaurant and gift shop. (200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., 0.5 miles from Science Museum Eastbound GRTC Pulse Station, 0.6 miles from Science Museum Westbound GRTC Pulse Station.)


Virginia Museum of History & Culture:

The Confederate Memorial Institute (Battle Abbey), c. 1950
The Confederate Memorial Institute (Battle Abbey), c. 1950 (The Valentine, Chamber of Commerce Collection)



Virginia Museum of History & Culture
Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 2019 (courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society)


The Virginia Museum of History & Culture sits on Arthur Ashe Boulevard, immediately to the north of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  The large neo-classical building, originally called the Battle Abbey, was constructed in 1912 as a shrine to the Confederate dead and a repository for records pertaining to the Lost Cause.  In 1946, the Battle Abbey became the new headquarters of the Virginia Historical Society, which had been founded in 1831 with the goal of preserving documents and artifacts related to the history of Virginia.  The building has been expanded several times, and in 2018, it was renamed the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. Permanent exhibitions include the popular “Story of Virginia." Throughout the year, the VMHC also offers traveling exhibitions, lectures and special events.  The museum is open daily, with a suggested admission fee. (428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., 0.5 miles from Science Museum Eastbound GRTC Pulse Station, 0.6 miles from Science Museum Westbound GRTC Pulse Station.)

Stonewall Jackson Monument / First Baptist Church’s Bell:


Stonewall Jackson Monument
Stonewall Jackson Monument, 1920s (The Valentine, Cook Collection)


Although a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had already been erected on Capitol Square in 1875, veterans who served with him demanded that a statue of Jackson, this time mounted on a horse, be added to Monument Avenue as well.  The Stonewall Jackson Monument, located at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Arthur Ashe Boulevard, was created by Richmond sculptor Frederick William Sievers and unveiled in 1919. Next to the Jackson Monument, a unique relic of Richmond’s Civil War-era past can be seen outside First Baptist Church of Richmond on the southeast corner of Monument Avenue and Arthur Ashe Boulevard.  After the Confederate government ordered all Richmond churches to surrender their bells in 1862 for use in the production of cannons, a member of First Baptist Church (then located at the corner of 12th and Broad streets) offered the Confederacy a sum of gold in exchange for allowing the church to keep its bell. That bell can now be seen underneath a protective brick canopy in a patio area between the church building and Monument Avenue. (0.3 miles.)

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