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The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

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City of Colonial Heights , Virginia

City of Colonial Heights Education, Geography, and HistoryColonial Heights Virginia Courthouse

Colonial Heights is an independent city in Virginia, United States. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 17,411. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the City of Colonial Heights (along with the City of Petersburg) with Dinwiddie County for statistical purposes.

Colonial Heights is located in the Tri-Cities area of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

Etymology - Origin of City of Colonial Heights Name

Colonial Heights, in Chesterfield County, is located on the heights overlooking the Appomattox River and takes its name from the fact that the Marquis de Lafayette placed his artillery, known as the Colonials, on the heights to shell British positions in Petersburg in 1781.


County QuickFacts: City of Colonial Heights

Colonial Heights City History

Colonial Heights, Virginia incorporated as a town in 1926 and as a city in 1948. [Virginia Genealogy, Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993.] Chartered as an independent city in 1928. Located in Chesterfield County, Virginia. [County Courthouse Book, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1990.]

Like much of eastern Virginia, the site of Colonial Heights was located within the Algonquian-speaking confederation known as Tenakomakah, ruled by Chief Powhatan, when the English colonists arrived at Jamestown on May 14, 1607. Captain John Smith's early map of Virginia testifies that the present area of Colonial Heights included the principal town of the Appamattuck subtribe, led by their weroance, Coquonasum, and his sister, Oppussoquionuske. In the aftermath of the Indian attacks of 1622 and 1644, they became tributary to England and relocated to nearby Ettrick, and its opposite bank, near Fort Henry (near modern Petersburg).

What is now Colonial Heights was made part of "Henrico Cittie", one of 4 huge "incorporations" formed in the Virginia Colony in 1619 by the London Company. English colonists first settled in the Colonial Heights area in 1620. A small group sailed up the Appomattox River looking for clear land, and finally settled in an area where Swift Creek runs into the Appomattox River, which they named Conjurer's Neck. This confluence was formerly the residence a Native American healer (known as a "conjurer") who was thought to have cast spells over the waters.

Shortly thereafter, Charles Magnor registered the first land patent in the area for 650 acres, which he later developed into a plantation before selling it in 1634. That same year, by order of King Charles I of England, the Virginia Colony was divided into the 8 original shires of Virginia by the House of Burgesses, one of which was Henrico County, which included the future land of Colonial Heights.

During the period from 1677 to 1685, one of the area's historic landmarks was constructed with the building of the Brick House Farm. Richard Kennon came to Virginia prior to 1670, and became a merchant of Bermuda Hundred. He represented Henrico County in the House of Burgesses. His son, Richard Kennon, Jr., was also a member of the House of Burgesses and married the daughter of Col. Robert Bolling, the emigrant, and his second wife, the former Anne Stith. Richard's sister, Mary Kennon, was married to Major John Fairfax Bolling, half-brother of Richard's wife. Major Bolling was the son of Col. Robert Bolling and his first wife Jane Rolfe, who was granddaughter of the early colonist John Rolfe and his Native American wife, Pocahontas. The Bollings lived at Cobb's, a plantation in eastern Chesterfield near Point-of-Rocks.

The manor house built by Richard Kennon (later known as the "Brick House") is now thought to be the oldest permanent structure in Colonial Heights. One wall of the house survived a disastrous fire in 1879, and the rest was rebuilt.

In 1749, an area south of the James River was divided from Henrico County by the House of Burgesses, and named Chesterfield County. The area which became Colonial Heights was to remain in Chesterfield County for almost 200 more years, until 1948.

The name "Colonial Heights" results from an incident during the American Revolutionary War. In 1781, the French troops of General Marquis de Lafayette, known as the Coloniels, retreated north from Petersburg and deployed artillery on the heights overlooking Petersburg from across the Appomattox River. The area thus came to be known as "Colonial Heights", and the name was given to a subdivision of the Oak Hill tract in 1906.

A historic site, Oak Hill, on Carroll Avenue, also called Archer's, Hector's or Dunn's Hill, consisted of two one-story weatherboarded structures connected by a deep inside porch that extends from an uncovered section toward the street. From the lawn of this house, in May 1781, General Lafayette, with cannon behind a boxwood hedge that still fringes the hill, shelled Petersburg, then occupied by the British.

The area also became involved in operations during the American Civil War. General Robert E. Lee made his headquarters at Violet Bank from June through September during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864.

In 1926, Colonial Heights became an incorporated town in Chesterfield County. It became an independent city in 1948. Its current charter was granted in 1960. From 1960 to 1970, Colonial Heights experienced a period of rapid growth as the population jumped from 9,587 to 15,097.

According to Tony Horwitz's book, "Confederates in the Attic," when the Petersburg public school system was integrated by federal order in the 1960s, most of Petersburg's white population "fled en masse across the river to a suburb called Colonial Heights, or nicknamed 'Colonial Whites.'"

In the mid-1980s, completion of the State Route 144 (Temple Avenue Connector) and a new bridge across the Appomattox River provided access to State Route 36 near Fort Lee. The new road and bridge effectively opened a large previously isolated tract of land along the southeastern edge of the city for commercial development. There, the regional Southpark Mall and many other retail businesses and offices were built.

On August 6, 1993, an F4 tornado (max. wind speeds 207-260 mph) passed through Colonial Heights. It caused extensive damage to the Southpark Mall and collapsed the roof of a Wal Mart store, the Indian burial ground. It also did extensive damage in Petersburg and Hopewell. In the Tri-Cities area, the tornado killed 4 people, injured 246, and caused an estimated $50 million in property damage.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.8 square miles (20.2 km2), of which, 7.5 square miles (19.4 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km2) of it (3.98%) is water.

Colonial Heights is located on just north of the Appomattox River across from the modern-day City of Petersburg at the river's fall line It is located south of Chesterfield County (practically surrounded by it except for a south border with Petersburg) and in some areas, Swift Creek divides the city from the county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Chesterfield County, Virginia - west, north, southeast
  • Petersburg, Virginia - south
  • Prince George County, Virginia - east


Elementary and secondary

The City of Colonial Heights is served by Colonial Heights Public Schools.

Higher education

The area is served by three schools of higher education:

Virginia State University
Richard Bland College
John Tyler Community College

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