4901 Old Brook Road
Architects, Carneal and Johnson (Central Building)
The farm that became a hospital.
Tuberculosis was one of the world’s most feared and difficult diseases until the mid-twentieth century. Since it was contagious, isolation in pleasant surroundings was one of the first parts of treatment. A principal treatment developed among mainstream medical practitioners consisted of rest. They suggested that if the lungs were allowed to rest the tubercle bacillus would be isolated. Fresh air was thought to be an effective treatment as well. A massive campaign of public awareness was waged for many years, advocating strict hygiene, fresh air, and modem forms of treatment. A system of public and private sanatoriums was developed across the country where patients often lived for years under a strict regimen of isolation and complete or moderate inactivity.
The beginnings of the Pine Camp Tuberculosis Hospital can be dated to a request by Richmond’s public health officer for $10,000 from the city to combat what was known as the ‘White Plague.“ No money was appropriated and private citizens took up the cause. The Tuberculosis Camp Society was founded in 1909 in the midst of widespread awareness of the contagious character of the disease and the latest methods of treatment which included fresh air and rest. Frances Branch Scott, member of a prominent and wealthy Richmond family, convened a meeting in her home in November of 1909 to discuss the founding of a charity hospital for urban victims of the disease. Frances Scott was then president of the Sheltering Arms Hospital, Richmond’s premier charity hospital, and she and others were concerned about the lack of treatment available for tubercular patients at that institution.
At the request of the Tuberculosis Camp Society, the city set apart a 1,000-foot by 1000-foot tract of wooded land at the northwest corner of the city farm on which the society built an administration building and a “pavilion” where 20 patients could rest, receive treatment, and avoid infecting others. Undoubtedly the elevated and rural character of the site and the previous and ongoing use of another part of the farm for treatment of contagious diseases suggested the site. It was also readily accessible near the end of the Ginter Park streetcar line. The original purpose of the camp, in this time of strict segregation, was to serve white patients only. The “Piney Camp Home” opened in November of 1910.
When the Richmond Department of Public Health took over operation of Pine Camp in 1916, the facilities remained very limited. Tuberculosis continued to be recognized as a serious threat to public health. The city experienced 277 deaths from consumption or pulmonary tuberculosis in 1916. Of these, the majority (167) were black. However, by the early 1920s, the hospital had a capacity of only thirty-six white patients and no facilities for black sufferers who were sent to a state hospital or cared for at home.
The city council approved a bond issue of $75,000 for the expansion of the camp in 1921. This was followed a year later by an appropriation of $50,000. Among the first of the new buildings constructed in 1922-23 was the large, one-story, hip-roofed, stuccoed administration building. This was accompanied by a new infirmary of 24 beds, a new pavilion of 24 beds, a heating plant, and a garage/laundry. The original pavilion was remodeled and the frame administration building was rehabilitated as a nurses’ home. The newly enlarged camp with a capacity of eighty-four opened in November of 1923. According to the newspaper, the camp was “the most up-to-date” tuberculosis treatment center in the nation and a “monument to civic progress”. Treatment was still not provided at this site to non-white patients.
By 1930, increased demand for institutional treatment of tuberculosis stimulated a need for more beds at Pine Camp. There was a waiting list to get into the hospital that could then accommodate 100 patients. Awareness of a need for special treatment for children and to extend the treatment program to black citizens gave impetus to a decade of expansion. A state fund for public treatment of the disease was available to the city of Richmond. The head of the city’s Department of Public Health, Dr. W. B. Foster, urged the city to use this money to build a new hospital building at Pine The city council approved an appropriation of $80,000 in June of 1931. With the completion of the Central Building in 1932, the capacity of the camp increased to 150.
A 1936 survey indicated that there were 1,797 tubercular cases in the city, of which 420 were among the African-American population. The next project for the hospital was provision of a separate unit for black sufferers of the disease. In keeping with segregation laws and practices at the time, a new weather boarded frame Negro infirmary was built several hundred yards to the east of the Central Building at a cost of $25,000. This building that opened in 1936 and housed 56 patients cost less than half that of the new main building designed for a similar number of whites. A wing with sixteen additional beds was added in 1938 and funded by the city. By the 1940s, demand had again risen for admittance to Pine Camp. In 1941, the Mayor announced plans to add 30 beds to the Negro unit. A new forty-bed enlargement of the African-American infirmary was dedicated in 1943.
There was a dramatic decline in admissions in 1954. The patient load dropped from 228 to 181. Alternate treatments largely based in antibiotics resulted in a drop in average length of stay from 608 days to 307 days. State hospitals had drawn off most of the white patients from Pine Camp and admissions of white patients had ended several years earlier. Completion of a new state hospital in Richmond for black patients would draw most of them away as well in the near future.
In early 1955, Pine Camp requested and received accreditation as a general hospital, with the intention of converting beds to alternate use. A forty-bed unit for rehabilitation of indigent, chronically ill patients was started in the first floor of the Central Building. Movable partitions were constructed to separate patients due to the continually changing racial makeup of patients and the populations of male and female patients. The ramp at the east end of the building was added in 1955 to allow access of from the Central Building to the rehabilitation building. By early December 1956, the city began considering the closing of either the City Home or Pine Camp Hospital. Late in the same month the city announced the closure of Pine Camp. By the end of 1957, the last patients were transferred to the City Home.
After closing in 1957, the camp was left unused for several years until the decision was made to rehabilitate it to serve as a recreation center for the city’s northern section. Most of the buildings dating from the early twentieth century were demolished, including the four pavilions, the Negro Infirmary, the Power Plant, and the doctors’ and nurses’ residences. Only the Central Building, the small Administration Building, the Laundry/Garage Building, and the Medical Director’s Residence and the Resident Physician’s Residence remained by the 1980s. (VDHR)
These days, the latter two are gone, replaced by a new recreation center that was built in the late 1990s.
Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!
RVA Legends — Manly B. Ramos & Co.
A look into the history of Richmond places that are no longer part of our landscape.
903 East Main Street
Purveyor of instruments and music publisher.
A firm controlled by musicians, who, having taught music, appreciate the wants of Music Teachers and the public. Three of their salesmen being organists of ability, they make selections of music to advantage and satistion. If a person’s trade amounts to only $1.00 a year, they are just as anxious to serve him as if he bought $500 worth.
They are Virginians. Twelve years’ experience in the musical business, and a desire to satisfy in every particular, is the foundation of their success. They are located in warerooms double the size of any similar establishment in the South, holding, besides their sheet music and small instruments, the agencies for the renowned Knabe, Emerson and Behring Pianos, and also the Packard, and Dyer, and Hughes Organs.
The business methods of this widely known house, are conducted on such a high plane that every customer becomes a friend. It would be well to get their catalogue, which is sent free of charge. [IOR]
It is a true buzzkill that Rocket Werks was unable to find a recording of the Staunton Grand March, so we can only imagine what dulcet tones of martial splendor we’re missing out on. Although if any brave soul in the audience knows how to play the piano and wants to take a crack at it, Duke University Libraries has the complete sheet music just waiting for you. It would make you like a history musicologist or something.
Construction of the Mutual Building, first of Richmond’s early high-rises, in 1924, posed problems for Manly B. Ramos & Co.’s 903 East Main location. That building was razed and Ramos had to skedaddle, moving just up the street to 721.
(Manly B. Ramos is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
Must-See RVA! — Norman Stewart House
A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.
AKA, Stewart-Lee House
707 East Franklin Street
The General’s pad. You know… him.
In early time the whole square bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Franklin, and Main Streets was occupied by the home of Archibald Blair, Secretary of the Council of State. The garden was adorned with trees and shrubbery and a pond, fed by a spring. After Blair’s death the property was divided into lots, most of those on Franklin Street being sold to Norman Stewart who erected five brick houses there, known as Stewart’s Row.
Norman Stewart, first of that family to emigrate from Rothesay in Scotland to Virginia, had come out before 1806 and engaged in the business of buying and selling leaf tobacco. His nephews John and Daniel Stewart later joined him in Richmond. Norman Stewart remained a bachelor and lived in this house after building it in 1844, renting the others in the row.
His great-nephew gives an amusing picture of the younger members of the family stopping after service at St. Paul’s, before the long drive to “Brook Hill,” to have a glass of sherry and some stale sponge-cake with their uncle; of the latter’s vanity in concealing his red hair under a brown wig; and of his true Scotch thrift in having his servant unravel his old stockings to darn his new ones!
At his death in 1856 Norman Stewart left this house to his nephew John. During the Civil War Mr. Stewart rented it to General Custis Lee and some brother-officers, and in 1864-65 Lee’s mother and sisters occupied it, so that it was General Robert E. Lee’s home during his brief stays in Richmond. Mrs. Chesnut describes the life there at this time:
Then we paid our respects to Mrs. Lee. Her room is like an industrial school: everybody so busy. Her daughters were all there plying their needles, with several other ladies. When we came out someone said, “Did you see how the Lees spend their time? What a rebuke to the taffy parties.”
After the Surrender, Lee rode to Richmond on Traveller. His son Robert writes:
On April 15th he arrived in Richmond. The people there soon recognized him; men, women and children crowded around him cheering and waving hats and handkerchiefs. It was more like the welcome to a conqueror than to a despised prisoner on parole. He raised his hat in response to their greetings and rode quietly to his home on Franklin Street, where my mother and sisters were anxiously awaiting him.
But General Lee found life in Richmond with the constant stream of callers too exhausting and in the latter part of June, 1865 moved his family to the country. Thence they moved to Lexington, after his call to be president of Washington College. His actual residence in the Stewart house was thus slightly over two months. When he tried to pay Mr. John Stewart rent, the latter wrote him that “the payment must be in Confederate currency, for which alone it was rented to your son.”
Later, the house was rented to judge Anthony M. Keiley, who lived there while he was Mayor of Richmond, 1871-76. Judge Keiley figured in an international incident, the Italian government indicating that he was persona non grata, when he was named ambassador, because he had taken a prominent part in a meeting of Richmond Roman Catholics who had protested the Pope’s being deprived of his temporal power.
In 1879 the Westmoreland Club, which had been founded two years earlier, occupied the Stewart house. During the ’eighties it was the home of William O. English and Robert N. Gordon. Mr. English had married Miss Jessie Gordon, head of one of the many well-known schools for girls.
The school had been in existence since 1855 and during the ’eighties occupied this house. The Stewart family continued, evidently, to feel as John Stewart had when he wrote General Lee, refusing to accept rent: You do not know how much gratification it is, and will afford me and my whole family during the remainder of our lives, to reflect that we have been brought into contact, and to know and to appreciate you and all that are dear to you.
In 1893 Mrs. Stewart and her daughters gave the house, forever associated with General Lee’s brief stay in Richmond, to the Virginia Historical Society, to be the headquarters of that organization. Although the interest of the house is largely its connection with the Lees and with the Stewart family, which has meant much to Richmond, it is worth study architecturally as a good example of a Greek Revival house of the three-story, “shoe-box” type.
Among dozens of houses of this plan, many of them still standing, this is the only one in excellent condition or likely to he preserved. That it is good of its sort is evident from a comparison with the Maury house, for example. One can easily see that the Stewart-Lee house is far better proportioned and much more pleasing in detail.
The handsome iron fence with pineapple posts is identical, except for the gate, with that of the Barret house, built in the same year. Unfortunately the appearance of the house is greatly injured at present by a large gasoline advertisement which masks the doorway when it is approached from the east. [HOR]
Renovated in 2001 by the Home Builders Association of Virginia, it served as their offices for a while, but they have since relocated to 1051 East Cary, and the building is available for lease.
General Lee cribbed here and there’s no escaping it. On the one hand, that’s great. This sole remaining structure of the original Stewart’s Row survives because he lived here, and you would have few other references to indicate that this portion of Franklin Street was once a residential neighborhood. And… yeh, he was extraordinarily skillful and a key figure in one of the defining moments of the nation’s history.
But it was him and the Confederacy and Jim Crow and all the other muck that comes with the stain of the Confederate cause. Preserve it? Absolutely. Forget? Not a chance.
(Norman Stewart House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.
- [IEAHS] Inventory of Early Architecture and Historic Sites. Jeffrey Marshall O’Dell. 1976.
- [MCR] Map of the City of Richmond, Virginia, 1861-65. Richmond Civil War Centennial Committee. 1961.
Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!
RVA Legends — James Dunlop House
A look into the history of Richmond places that are no longer a part of our landscape.
101 North Fifth Street
The house that turned into a hotel.
On January 20, 1844 James Dunlop bought the half-acre lot, number 568, the price of $8000 proving how popular Fifth Street was at that time. This site had the further attraction of being considered the highest elevation in the city, Thomas P. Watkins, the surveyor, having built himself a small frame house there when he ascertained its unique advantage. That house was immediately demolished by Mr. Dunlop, and the mansion was built within the year.
James Dunlop (who was born in Richmond in 1801) spent the rest of his life in the house he had built. He had married Ann Dent McRae, daughter of Alexander McRae and it was in this house that the widow of Alexander McRae died. Dunlop was a partner in the ante-bellum firm of Dunlop, Moncure & Co., auctioneers and commission merchants, which was located at the northwest corner of Cary and Eleventh Streets.
After the War this firm became Dunlop & McCance and devoted itself exclusively to milling. One of the founders of St. Paul’s Church, Mr. Dunlop was a member of the vestry from 1844 until his death in 1875, at which time he was treasurer. Passing resolutions on his loss, the members of the vestry described him as “the gentle, genial, generous friend.”
Mrs. Dunlop continued to live there until her death, following which it was the home for about five years of James Alfred Jones. W. Brydon Tennant owned it for a similar period, and in 1899 it was sold to Walter Blair, a grandson of Parson Blair. Mr. Blair lived there until his death, and his daughter, Miss Ellen Blair, continued to make it her home.
She sold it in 1928, and it was demolished in that year to be the site of the John Marshall Hotel.
The Dunlop house, built at the same time as the Barret house and in the main very similar to it, had several marked differences. The front porch was heavier and there were no triple windows. The chimneys were placed toward the centre of the house instead of on the outer wall, a much less awkward plan.
The chief feature of the Dunlop house was the magnificent portico in the rear, with its great columns instead of the modest square pillars of the Barret house. Although the porch had two floors, the upper one was somewhat masked so that the effect was more like the Van Lew and Hayes-McCance houses than like those being built in the years just before the Dunlop house.
The portico of the Nolting house is evidently copied from this one. The Dunlop house was beautifully kept up, to the very end, and the pearl-grey stucco and white trim, the secluded garden surrounded by its high brick wall, and the tall portico made it a place of romance and beauty. [HOR]
(James Dunlop House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- A special shout-out goes to Ray Bonis of The Shockoe Examiner and VCU’s James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections & Archives fame. Ray hipped Rocket Werks to the fact that the Library of Congress had recently added digital copies of both the 1886 and 1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Richmond, in addition to their well-known 1905 edition. Not only are these maps a gold mine for the researcher, used here for the first time, they are also gorgeous to behold. If looking at antiquated municipal street maps is your thing. It’s… not for everybody. Okay, move along!
- [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.