J. L. Downing House
5717 George Street
—Written by Gail Drabant
This is one of the oldest houses located on the west side of town at 5717 George Street. It pre-dates most of the grand Queen Anne style homes in the neighborhood. The original main portion of the house is about 120 years old being built circa 1875. Note while viewing the house from George Street, the change in windows and the line where the west addition starts. The original house was a square form of the Italianate style with a simple hipped roof. Multiple additions have evolved the house into its present form.
J. L. Downing was a prominent Richmond merchant who settled here in 1851 from England. His business, Downing and Dennison, was advertised as being “dealers in all kinds of furniture including coffins always on hand.”
In 1888, Downing sold the house to the Emma Wray family, a prominent farming family. Then in 1915, J. T. Bower inherited the house. It was in the Bower family for 30 years until 1945 when it was sold to the O’Neill. After the O’Neils, the Holmgrens owned the house before the current owners, William and Lily Karls. While the Holgrens owned the house, they operated a gift shop and penny candy store in the south wings.