Connect with us

Downtown

Must-See RVA! — Richmond Public Libary

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.

Avatar

Published

on

101 East Franklin Street
Built, 1930
Expanded, 1972
Architects, Baskervill & Son

Like the Maya of old did to El Castillo, Richmond enclosed an old structure within a new one.

rocket werks rva postcards

rocket werks rva postcards

A notable milestone in Richmond’s history was the acquisition in 1924 of the city’s first free library, in the modern sense. Richmond was the last city of its size in the country to build and operate such an institution.

Andrew Carnegie offered the city $100,000 in 1901 for a public library open to all, if the municipality would provide $10,000 a year for maintenance. Richmond did not accept the offer. Many Richmonders apparently felt that a library was a luxury, and that other public services were more essential.

(Library of Virginia) 1956

(Library of Virginia) 1956

The city was again indifferent to the need in 1922 when an ordinance was introduced appropriating $350,000 for a library, accompanied by a petition bearing 10,000 signatures. the Council too the view that there were “more important demands for funds.”

rocket werks rva postcards

rocket werks rva postcards

But there was now a large, well-organized, determined block of citizens who had formed the Richmond Library Association… (and) the Richmond-First Club and other agencies joined the fight. The almost immediate result was that the Council approved a $200,000 bond issue. In 1924 the Lewis Ginter mansion at Shafer and Franklin was bought for $112,000. The city’s first public library opened there in the fall of that year.

May 2016 – Dooley Wing interior

May 2016 – Dooley Wing interior

The Ginter mansion was not well-suited to the needs of a modern library, but it was far superior to anything the city had had in the past. Operations there had hardly gotten under way when Mrs. James H. Dooley died and left $500,000 to the city for the erection of a public library in memory of her husband. First and Franklin was chosen as the site, and the work was begun. The new Dooley Memorial Library opened in 1930, and provided much more adequate service that had ever been provided before. [RSOC]

May 2016 – Dooley Wing stairwell

May 2016 – Dooley Wing stairwell

Skip forward fifty years, and the Dooley was maxed out. In the 1972 expansion, core features were retained, but the original Art Deco design vanished.

While the exterior has disappeared entirely beneath the modern stone veneer, the original skylighted entrance hall remains as the lobby of the Art and Music section. The travertine walls and plaster ceiling of this room are still impressive.

The current building was intended to relate to Linden Row and is thus monumental and symmetrical. [ADR]

Both Architecture Richmond and The Shockoe Examiner also have interesting articles on the Library worth peeping at.


Sources

  • [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert Winthrop. 1982.
  • (Library of Virginia) 1956.
  • [RSOC] Richmond, The Story of a City. Virginius Dabney. 1976.

rocket_werks_must_see

Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!

Comments

comments

Combining protean forces from the forbidden Zero Serum with the unbridled power of atomic fusion, to better probe the Wisdom of the Ancients and their Forgotten Culture.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Downtown

PHOTOS: Protests continue for third day around Richmond, tear gas deployed as marchers ignore 8PM curfew

Hundreds of protesters rallied at sites around town Sunday as the third day of protests in response to the death of George Floyd took place in Richmond.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

Hundreds of protesters rallied at sites around town Sunday as the third day of protests in response to the death of George Floyd took place in Richmond. Protesters gathered at peaceful rallies on Brown’s Island and at the 17th Street Farmers Market downtown on Sunday morning.

Later in the day, another group formed at the Lee and Jackson monuments on Monument Avenue in the Fan. As dusk approached, the group made their way east on Franklin Street, turning onto W. Grace Street and then Broad Street near City Hall and Children’s Hospital at VCU.

An 8:00 PM curfew put in place by Mayor Levar Stoney did not deter most protesters, who continued marching and chanting until Richmond Police deployed tear gas and pepper spray into the crowd. Slowly, over the course of an hour, protesters dispersed.

Many businesses along W. Broad Street from Arthur Ashe Boulevard to the Arts District, already left cleaning up broken glass and graffiti Sunday morning from Saturday night’s protests, were left on edge, though there were far fewer reports of property damage Sunday.  Many of the businesses affected were small or minority-owned. By Sunday, many showed their support for the protests, spray painting “Black Lives Matter” or “Small/Minority-Owned” on their window coverings to both show solidarity and deter further damage.

Photographer Dave Parrish caught much of the Fan/Downtown protest Sunday afternoon and files these photos.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Downtown

Must-See RVA! — John Marshall Courts Building

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.

Avatar

Published

on

May 2020
  • 800 East Marshall Street
  • Built, 1978
  • Renovated, 1994
  • Architects, C. F. Murphy & Associates; Helmut Jahn, project architect (1978). Hening-Vest-Covey (1994)

Straight out of Alphaville.

[ADR] — building in 1981 downtown survey

[ADR] — building in 1981 downtown survey

Designed by a nationally known Chicago-based architectural firm, the John Marshall Courts Building was intended to provide a neutral background to the John Marshall House. In this it succeeds. it is a slickly detailed glass box with rounded edges. The building is the best example of the “glass box” genre in Richmond.

(Montage) — Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, undated

(Montage) — Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, undated

C. F. Murphy & Associates are among the more skillful followers of Mies van der Rohe, who was the most influential architect of the 20th century. Their Richmond building has been controversial on both functional and aesthetic grounds. [ADR]

Designed to respect the Marshall House next door, the sleek, black glass box of the John Marshall Courts Building sets off the house, emphasizing its iconic, welcoming facade. This is perhaps its only success, because the court building has been plagued with criticism for its dysfunction. Recent alterations have attempted to correct traffic and security issues. (SAH Archipedia)

May 2020

May 2020

When your lead architect likes to wear capes as normal outerwear, and his detractors call him “Flash Gordon”, there’s a chance you might not get what you were expecting. Before you know it, you might be throwing around emotional terms like controversial and dysfunction and find yourself spending money to correct gaps in the original design.

(The Architect’s Newspaper) — McCormick Place, 1969-1971

(The Architect’s Newspaper) — McCormick Place, 1969-1971

After graduating from the Technische Hochschule in Munich in 1965, (Helmut) Jahn moved to Chicago to study at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a school long associated with the Modernist aesthetic of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his followers. On the basis of this solid design background, Jahn was hired by Chicago architectural firm C.F. Murphy Associates to work on the Miesian design for McCormick Place in Chicago.

(YouTube) — screencap from Helmut Jahn, FAIA Lifetime Achievement Award

(YouTube) — screencap from Helmut Jahn, FAIA Lifetime Achievement Award

In the late 1970s and ’80s Jahn made his mark, designing extravagant buildings that combined historical and contextual references—the central tenets of postmodern architecture—with high-tech engineering solutions. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

May 2020

May 2020

Jahn certainly has his admirers and adherents. He has completed over 90 building projects during his long career and has been widely recognized for his efforts, earning a Ten Most Influential Living American Architects award from the American Institute of Architects in 1991.

(Newspapers.com) — Helmut Jahn’s MetroWest building in Naperville, Illinois —Chicago Tribune Sunday, March 2, 1986

(Newspapers.com) — Helmut Jahn’s MetroWest building in Naperville, Illinois —Chicago Tribune Sunday, March 2, 1986

However, in the early days, his critics considered him “that postmodern enfant terrible who rocketed to stardom on the supercharged fireworks of the State of Illinois Building in 1985.” (Architecture Week)

A 1986 Chicago Tribune article about his MetroWest design in Naperville, Illinois called him a “flamboyant postmodernist, who adorns himself in capes and Porches.” It went on to observe that the building produced nausea in a nearby office worker, and concluded with relief that “at least nobody has dubbed it the Starship Naperville.” [CHIT]

May 2020

May 2020

With context like that, perhaps it’s not surprising that issues were found with the courts building. Not everyone digs the glass box thing, that’s easy to grok, but the functional issues are something else. The building opened in 1978 and just four short years Robert Winthrop was calling it controversial, so whatever problems existed must have quickly found a voice.

May 2020

May 2020

The precise nature of the complaints is obscure, but the building does not appear to respect the available space. Together with the John Marshall House, the courts building complex consumes the entire block, yet there is a large, empty plaza along Ninth Street.

May 2020

May 2020

It certainly looks nice, but by 1994 the City would find itself coughing up $2 million dollars for a renovation to create additional office space and another courtroom. [RTD1] At such cost, there probably weren’t a lot of plaza enthusiasts still hanging around.

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — John Marshall High School

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — John Marshall High School

Adding to the sense of injury, the new courts building came at the price of the beautiful old John Marshall High School. It too sat quietly behind the John Marshall House at the corner of 9th and Marshall and was considered a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 1909, with large classrooms, elevators, and science labs, as well as modern plumbing, heating, and ventilation. [RTD2]

Alas, this sacrificial lamb was razed, and the school had to scoot to a new location in North Side.

(John Marshall Courts Building is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Note

  • A shout-out to Ray Bonis & Harry Kollatz for their tips and input on the courts building!

Print Sources

  • [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert P. Winthrop. 1982.
  • [CHIT] Chicago Tribune. Sunday, March 2, 1986.
  • [RTD1] Richmond Times-Dispatch. December 8, 1994.
  • [RTD2] Richmond Times-Dispatch. August 16, 1909.

rocket_werks_must_see

Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Crime

Protests turn violent in Downtown Richmond Friday night

Hundreds took to the street to protest the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis. A police cruiser and Pulse bus were torched, and several shots rang out into the air overnight.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

Hundreds of people protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed earlier this week by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took to the streets of Downtown Richmond last night to make their voices heard.

While the protests started off peacefully, things quickly took a turn. Around 10:45 PM Friday, a Facebook Live stream showed WWBT/NBC12 reporter Karina Bolster, who was reporting from the scene, struck in the head by a protester chanting “stop recording” using a water bottle. Her phone was also tossed to the street. Bolster, clearly shaken, did not stop recording and continued reporting through tears as she came to terms with what just happened.

As the night progressed, protesters set a dumpster on fire and later marched to Richmond Police headquarters at 200 W. Grace Street and surrounded the building. Richmond officers were joined by State Police and backup requested from surrounding localities to protect the building and officers inside. Nearby, a police cruiser was torched.

Into the early morning hours of Saturday, a GRTC Pulse bus was also set ablaze, the shell of which remained near the corner of W. Broad Street and Belvidere Street as dawn broke.

Several arrests were made overnight, but Richmond Police has yet to confirm a number.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Richmond Weather

Events Calendar