1751 Robert Rose Monument

The Robert Rose monument (1751) is the earliest visible marker at historic St. John’s Church, Richmond’s first public burial ground from 1799 to 1822.  Named one of Virginia's Top 10 Most Endangered Artifacts List in 2013,  a 3-year restoration project was completed in May 2017 by contractor Ashley McCune and conservator Howard Wellman. The monument has since been removed from Virginia’s Most Endangered Artifacts List.

We are forever grateful to our donors that made this crucial structural repair possible.

  • Anonymous

  • Mr. and Mrs. Harry J. Alferink, Jr

  • Mr and Mrs. James G. Rose, Jr.

  • Dr. and Mrs. S. Rutherfoord Rose, II

May 2017 Dedication Ceremony

Sarah Whiting, Executive Director of St. John’s Church Foundation and The Reverend Amelie Wilmer, Priest in Charge of St. John’s Church, led the re-dedication. Bagpiper Tim McLeod performed traditional Scottish tunes.

Robert Rose, born in Scotland in 1704, emigrated to Virginia as an ordained Anglican minister in 1725. Following his arrival, he served as rector of two parishes — first, Essex parish in the Tidewater and then St. Anne’s parish in the Blue Ridge. He led an active life, serving his parishioners, practicing medicine, dining with governors, and venturing throughout the colony, all while accumulating a massive estate. When he died outside the town of Richmond in 1751, his body was brought to St. John’s and buried on its eastern side. Later, his executors marked the site of his burial with a monumental tomb of limestone and marble, likely ordered from England. Its lengthy inscription celebrates his human qualities, including the testament that

“His extraordinary genius and capacity in all the polite and useful arts of life, though equaled by few, were yet exceeded by the great goodness of his heart.”

From Start to Finish

The project began in 2014. The first step was to explore the monument, both inside and out. Here contractor Ashley McCune sends a camera inside the monument as St. John’s Church Foundation staff, volunteers, and members of the Va Dept of Historic Resources look on.

Weather and other delays pushed the project into 2016. Once contractor Ashley McCune stabilized the core, conservator Howard Wellman and crew reset the heavy marble top.

VAM most endangered artifact.jpg

The “Top 10” program was designed and implemented by the Virginia Association of Museums to create awareness of the importance of preserving artifacts in the care of museums, libraries, and archives throughout Virginia.

Before conservation; note the large crack on top of tomb.

Before conservation; note the large crack on top of tomb.

robert rose before restoration 3.jpg