Edmund Sewell Read founded the community of Highland Springs in the 1890s as a streetcar suburb of Richmond on the Seven Pines Railway Company's electric street railway line between the city and the National Cemetery at Seven Pines. There, many Union dead were interred, primarily as a result of battles nearby during the Civil War (1861–1865), most notably during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. The potential traffic of visiting families to the Richmond area from out-of-town needing transportation to and from the cemetery was a motivating factor for inception of the new street railway.
Read came to the area from Boston in hopes of finding a suitable climate for his ailing wife. The natural springs in the area made it a suitable choice for the Read family, and apparently an inspiration for the new name.
Approximately mid-way along the new streetcar route from Richmond through eastern Henrico County, Read bought a tract of land and divided it into lots. He laid out along the main street which was the pre-existing Nine Mile Road, new cross streets named in alphabetical order after plants, beginning from the west: Ash, Beech, Cedar, Daisy, Elm, Fern, Grove, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Kalmia, Linden, Maple, Oak, Pine, Quince, Rose, and Spruce. One block south of and parallel to the Nine Mile Road, Read Street was named for its founder, Edmund Sewell Read.
The Sewells' large brick home is situated on the south side of Nine Mile Road between Grove and Holly, with Read Street to its rear. Today it serves as a medical office complex.
Like many neighborhoods in the south, Highland Springs has a street named after Robert E. Lee. The community also includes a Washington Street.