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Records of the Oaks (SC-01)

Identifier: SC-01

Scope and Contents

The collection’s inclusive dates are 1894-1995, with the bulk of the material dating from 1976-1984. The collection comprises correspondence, photographs, prints, receipts, cards, newspaper clippings, brochures, and other ephemeral material.


  • 1894-1995

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. As custodians of public records, VMFA only restricts access to public records when sensitive information is present. Such restrictions are applied in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia, § 2.2-3700 thru § 2.2-3714) and the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (Code of Virginia, § 2.2-3800 thru § 2.2-3809). Both Museum staff and the public may need written permission from the Director to view certain restricted records.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright, beyond that allowed by fair use, requires the researcher to obtain permission of copyright holders.

Historical Note

The Oaks was originally a plantation house built by Edmund Harrison near Mattoax in Amelia County. Exactly when the house was built is up for debate, with dates ranging from 1745 to 1764, and as late as 1795. Colonial in style, it was constructed from pine, poplar and bricks that were hand-made on site.

During part of its ownership by the Harrison family it was used as a school for boys. It was then sold to Samuel Jones, later a Confederate officer, in 1839. Lizzie Edmunds Boyd of Richmond purchased the house and the surrounding 280 acres for $10,000 in 1927. At that time, the house had been unoccupied for nearly 25 years and had fallen into a state of disrepair. However, it's interior and exterior woodwork were still in good condition in spite of the neglect. In 1927, Boyd hired the architect K.G. Koltukian and the contractor John. E. Dicks to dismantle, move, and rebuild the house at 307 Stockton Lane, in the newly developed Windsor Farms area in Richmond.

Upon its reassembly, a kitchen and butler’s pantry were added, as well as a terraced garden. Boyd bequeathed her home, The Oaks, later known as Boyd House, to the Virginia Museum in 1975. After its transferral, it was used as the home for the Director of the museum, beginning with Paul Perrot and ending in 2013 with Alex Nyerges, when it was placed on the market and sold.

Source: The Historic American Buildings Survey Source: Moving into a Masterpiece Source: 18th-Century House Goes on Market for First Time in its History

Source: Old and Sold: The Oaks


6.25 Linear Feet (5 boxes; 76 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection documents a portion of the life of Lizzie Edmund Boyd and the history of her home, The Oaks, during her ownership from 1927 until the transfer of ownership to the VMFA in 1975. In addition, the lives of several of her family members, namely James Boyd Phillips and Asa Phillips, can be seen through official military documents, tax forms, bank records and personal correspondence, offering a glimpse into their time serving in WWII and assimilation back into society after the war’s end.

The contents of the collection can perhaps be best summarized in a portion from a memo from Records Manager Jennie Runnels to Director Katherine Lee on April 7, 1995: "Dr. Brownell believes these [papers] would be an exciting topic and important to recovering Richmond’s rich architectural history. The boxes contain drawings of the gardens surrounding the Oaks and possibly reference sources used for their redesign, in addition to receipts and invoices pertaining to alterations of the house that took place during Miss Boyd’s lifetime. The material documents not only the social and cultural fabric of Richmond’s past but also the history of a home that is important to the Virginia Museum."


The collection is organized into three series. Items are arranged chronologically within each folder and, where relevant, within the series. Items with no date are placed at the end of a folder or series.

Series 1
The Oaks Papers and Photographs, 1894-1995, undated
Series 2
General VMFA Properties Papers, 1934-1990, undated
Series 3
The Oaks Miscellaneous, 1935-1969, undated

Custodial History

This collection was left behind in the basement of The Oaks at the time of the property transfer from the Lizzie Edmunds Boyd Estate to the VMFA Foundation in 1975. The materials were kept in the VMFA Development office until they were transferred to the VMFA Library in 1995.

Processing Information

In general, during processing, all publications are removed and added to the VMFA Library’s holdings and original newspaper clippings are photocopied, with identifiers transferred, and then destroyed. Original folder titles are retained, when provided.

Finding Aids to Special Collections in the VMFA Archives | The Oaks
Special Collection 01 (SC-01)
Erica Borey, Records Manager, and Kevin Williams, Archives Intern; Finding aid encoded by Sylvio Lynch III, Archives Intern (2020)
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Archives Repository

Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library
200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Richmond VA 23220-4007 United States