In 1904, Maggie L. Walker purchased the Leigh Street home for $4,800. Even though she was married at the time, it is only Mrs. Walker’s name on the deed and it was only her money used for the purchase. Mrs. Walker moved into the house a year later with her husband, Armstead; her mother, Elizabeth Mitchell; her two sons, Russell and Melvin; and her adopted daughter, Margaret “Polly” Anderson Payne. Over the course of her occupancy, Mrs. Walker commissioned major changes to the home both inside and out to accommodate her ever-growing family. Visitors to the home today can attribute the final appearance to the extensive renovations completed in 1922 by Virginia’s first African American architect, Charles T. Russell. Mr. Russell designed a grand, columned front porch, a second story open balcony (enclosed in 1924), and bedrooms that stretched to the carriage house at the border of the property. When Mrs. Walker passed away in 1934, her daughter-in-law, Hattie, inherited the house and remained living there until 1971. In 1978, her daughter, Maggie Laura, deeded the house to the National Park Service.


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