From the Alexandria (Va.) Gazette, 11/3/1910, p. 2, c. 5


The Van Lew house, one of the show places in Richmond for tourists, a relic of colonial times, is soon to disappear. The house sits in the center of a large block, surrounded by trees of many kinds, the growth of a century. The city is to purchase the property and build thereon a modern public school.

The house has a history. During the Civil War Miss Elizabeth Van Lew, who had inherited the place from her father, acted as a spy for the Federal government, and through her uninterrupted communication was maintained with the forces which were operating around Richmond. It was in this house that Captain Streight and a score of others, confined in old Libby prison, were secreted after they had tunneled out of the prison. They were given medical treatment and food by Miss Van Lew, and in the dead of night they were conducted to the federal army lines and later returned to their homes. Miss Van Lew went in and out among the soldiers and was never thought to be an agent of the besieging army.

The house was built considerably more than a hundred years ago and is an imposing edifice, standing three stories. It was in the garret of the house that the prisoners were hidden in a secret chamber, the entrance being a panel in the wall, which was whitewashed and completely hidden from view.

After the war Gen. Grant named Miss Van Lew as postmaster and she served three terms. She died some ten years ago and is buried in Shockoe cemetery.

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