Historic Rice House now open to tours

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond is well known for many of its hidden gems. Well, here's a new one for you.

Welcome to the Rice House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is located on Lock Island on the north bank of the James River directly between the Huguenot and Powhite Parkway bridges.

The home was built in the mid 1960s by well-known West Coast architect, Richard Neutra.  It was donated to the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation in the mid 90s by the owner and former American Ambassador to Australia, Walter Rice.

But for the past few years, the home stood vacant.  That's when the Science Museum of Virginia decided to step in.

"We've made a $400,000 investment in the home over the last nine months," said Annie Magnant, Executive Director of the Science Museum of Virginia Foundation. "And you can certainly see the results.  There's been some interior improvement, but mostly we stabilized the outside of the house, and in a very thoughtful way."

Science Museum of Virginia Director, Richard Conti, said this is a great way to attract new people's attention to the home and to the museum.

"It's a great example of contemporary architecture and the idea that we can kind of restore it using very modern kind of green technology really fits right into the heart of what the museum is all about," he said.

If you donate to the museum, this home can be used for your next corporate retreat, wedding reception, or other event.  A tour won't get you inside the home, but there is plenty to see outside.

Even if you don't want to get a look inside the Rice House, you can always take one of the Lock Island tours and get some of the best views you're going to find in Richmond.

"This is just really a unique opportunity to find one of Richmond's hidden treasures," said Margot Stegmaier, tour guide for the Valentine History Center.

The Valentine Richmond History Center is offering its next tour June 18 where you can learn about the history of Lock Island alongside a beautiful view of the James River.

Historic resources tours will be offered once a month. Tour groups are limited to 12 people, and reservations are required. Tours are $30 per person. Call the Valentine Richmond History Center at (804) 649-0711, ext. 301 or go to www.historicrichmondtours.com.

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