The Branch House 1919-2020: Its Significance Architecturally and for Richmond

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Designed by John Russell Pope, the Branch House and Gardens occupy half a block in Richmond’s Fan District.  This webinar will explore the history of the House and Monument Avenue, critical choices for the location of the House and the architect; the significant role the House and the Branch family have had in Richmond’s history. And we will begin to explore the challenges of restoring one of Richmond’s great architectural treasures.


Walter M. Dotts III, Trustee – Old House Authority, and great-grandson of John Kerr Branch and Beulah Gould Branch

A native of Richmond, VA, Dotts’ early participation in philanthropic causes reflected his varied interests, ranging from historic preservation, performing arts, education, animal welfare, and genealogy.  Dotts’ interest in historic preservation and traditional building techniques resulted in his restoration of a mid-18th century country house in Dutchess County, New York, and an early 19th century house in Richmond. That experience led to his becoming an advisor to realtors and property owners on preservation priorities.  He co-founded Old House Authority, a company providing professional advice on the rehabilitation and conservation of old and historic buildings and materials. Dotts is an alumnus of St. Christopher’s School in Richmond and Brown University

Sarah Driggs, Curator, Author, Editor

Driggs has a BA in art history and American Studies from Tulane, and an MA in architectural history from UVA. She has worked in Richmond her whole career, at many different history organizations, and as a consultant at some of the others. She has been a curator, editor, author, conscience and nag. She has served on public and private boards and commissions. She has curated exhibits, written many National Register nominations and co-authored several books about Richmond and Virginia architecture, including one on Monument Avenue.

Penny Fletcher, Executive Director, The Branch House of Architecture and Design

A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Fletcher’s career has focused in the not-for-profit arena.

She currently serves as Executive Director of The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design.  She was Executive Director of the Lupus Foundation of America, DC/MD/VA; Deputy Director, Chief Operating Officer, and Museum Director for the John Paul II Cultural Center; Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Children’s Museum.

Lena Sweeten McDonald, National/State Register Historian, Virginia Department of Historic Resource

Since November 2011, Lena Sweeten McDonald has been the National/State Register Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Prior to that, she worked for fifteen years as a consultant for various cultural resources management firms and successfully completed a variety of projects in the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Deep South, Southwest, and Northwest regions. Ms. McDonald completed a B.A. in history and political science at Western Kentucky University and an M.A. in historic preservation at Middle Tennessee State University. Her particular areas of research interest include post-World War II architecture, social justice and civil rights movements of the early to mid-twentieth century, and integrating historic preservation with landscape and natural resource conservation.

Susan Reed, AIA, Director of Historic Preservation, Glavé & Holmes Architecture

She has completed a variety of project types including theatres, museums, academic buildings, warehouses, historic residences, commercial buildings, churches, rural farm buildings, government buildings and even an off shore lighthouse.  Services have included condition assessments, feasibility studies, DHR surveys, restoration and rehabilitation design, the design of compatible additions to historic structures, compatible new designs for historic contexts, construction documents, construction administration, Historic Structure Reports, National Register Nominations, and State and Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits.  Keeping historic buildings in use is the core of her practice.

Gibson Worsham, Glavé & Holmes Architecture, Architectural Historian

Gibson Worsham is a licensed Architect educated at Virginia Tech and holds, in addition, a Master’s Degree in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. He brings to his projects a focus on preservation, conservation, reconstruction, and adaptive re-use, in addition to a strong interest in traditionally-designed new building projects and additions for a variety of building types. Gibson has also led numerous county-wide and individual historic resource surveys across the Upper South, provided post-disaster review of historic districts for FEMA, drafted successful National Register nominating reports, managed tax credit approvals, and provided building guidelines for historic neighborhoods. Gibson manages a variety of architectural projects with the architectural firm of Glave and Holmes including historic structure reports for the bath houses at Warm Springs VA, as well as restoration work at the historic Waterford Mill in Loudon County VA. He is also the immediate past president of the Byrd Theatre Foundation, which operates Richmond’s architecturally distinguished motion picture palace.

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