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History

Must-See RVA! — Pine Camp Tuberculosis Hospital

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

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4901 Old Brook Road
Built, 1909
Expanded, 1934
Architects, Carneal and Johnson (Central Building)
VDHR 127-0829

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.

(VDHR) — 2003 nomination photo

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.

February 2017 — Administrative Building, front

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.

February 2017 — Administrative Building, rear

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.

February 2017 — Laundry/Garage Building

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.

February 2017 — Central Building, rear

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.

February 2017 — Central Building, rear

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.

February 2017 — Central Building, main entrance

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.

February 2017 — Central Building, east end ramp

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.

February 2017 — building plates from demolished structures

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.


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Downtown

No more Confederate flags at Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, a longtime shrine of the South and home to thousands of Confederate graves, has quietly banned the flying of Confederate flags.

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Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, a longtime shrine of the South and home to thousands of Confederate graves, has quietly banned the flying of Confederate flags.

Visitors first noticed the absence of the flags in summer 2020, when anti-racism protests rocking Richmond and much of the U.S. often targeted rebel symbols. Two people familiar with the cemetery said then they understood that Hollywood had taken down the flags, widely seen as symbols of racism, temporarily to remove potential vandalism targets.

Two years later, Confederate flags that were once common at the historic private cemetery are still gone.

It turns out the cemetery’s board of directors adopted a formal flag ban in 2020 – with no public announcement.

“Hollywood does not have an established practice of publishing policies and broadly disseminating them when they are adopted by the board,” said Hollywood spokesman Matt Jenkins, a Richmond lawyer and member of the cemetery’s board. “We are not a public body.”

Jenkins provided the Virginia Mercury a copy of the flag policy, dated July 2, 2020.

It says in part that “against the current backdrop of intentional acts of vandalism and destruction of property, Hollywood’s board has removed from public view all flags of the Confederacy in the interest of protecting and preserving the entirety of the cemetery’s grounds.”

Jenkins declined to say if the ban is permanent. “It (the policy) says what it says. I’m not going to use the word ‘temporary’ or ‘permanent.’ “

Confederate statues on and near Richmond’s Monument Avenue began coming down in 2020, some toppled by protestors and others removed by the city.

The 135-acre Hollywood Cemetery, named for its abundant hollies, lies along the James River next to the Oregon Hill community. Founded in 1847, it is owned by the Hollywood Cemetery Co., a nonprofit corporation. Still a functioning cemetery, Hollywood operates much like a park, welcoming visitors who stroll up and down its hills to view solemn and artistic grave markers under gorgeous oaks, tulip poplars and cypresses, some of which predate the Civil War.

Hollywood is the resting place for two U.S. presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler; Confederate President Jefferson Davis; several Virginia governors; and other dignitaries.

Hollywood bills itself as “one of the most historic and beautiful cemeteries in the United States.”

Among Hollywood’s most striking features are its Confederate graves and memorials, which include a 90-foot-tall granite pyramid.

Virginia Commonwealth University historian Ryan K. Smith said Hollywood used to seek an elite, White clientele. The Confederate flag ban, he said, could help Hollywood move past those racist roots and appeal to a more diverse public.

“They have been worried, and I think rightfully so, about vandalism,” Smith said. “I think Hollywood is also trying to position itself for newer audiences going forward than it cultivated in the past.”

Smith’s 2020 book “Death & Rebirth in a Southern City” examined the religious, racial and Confederate history of Richmond’s cemeteries.

“I think (the ban) is a big deal because it shows just how far public perception against the Confederate flag has turned,” Smith said.

There are several flags of the Confederacy, but the most-recognized and most controversial by far is the Confederate battle flag. It features a blue, star-studded, diagonal cross on a field of red. Though some have defended the flag symbolic of southern heritage, it has long been waved by segregationists and White supremacists.

Word of the ban angered Andrew Bennett Morehead of Hanover County, who had put up and maintained Confederate flags at Hollywood in recent years.

“This is absolutely news to me,” said Morehead, the Richmond area brigade commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage group with about 3,500 members in Virginia.

“If Hollywood has an official stance – no Confederate flags of any type will be flown – I haven’t seen it on anything that I’ve gotten,” Morehead added. He said he thought the 2020 ban was temporary.

“Of all places, Hollywood Cemetery, which is a very historic … landmark, much like Monument Avenue was, is succumbing to the woke society,” Morehead said.

Morehead, of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, had been putting up at Hollywood several replicas of the Confederacy’s third, and final, national flag. That lesser-known flag is red and white with a square battle-flag image in its upper left corner.

Figuring enough time had passed since the 2020 protests, Morehead in early May put up a large third-national flag on a pole by the grave of Davis, the Confederate President. A Confederate flag had flown on that pole for years before being taken down amid the protests. Morehead later found that the newly raised flag had been removed. He criticized the cemetery for failing to celebrate  “the folks who are interred there that put them on the map.”

Tamara Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, indicated Confederate flags are still allowed in city cemeteries. “There is no rule in place to regulate flags on individual graves,” she said by email.

‘A symbolic cacophony’: As monuments come down, the unraveling of the rebel flag continues

The ‘inner sanctum’

Historian Mary H. Mitchell captured Hollywood’s attraction to aficionados of the Confederacy in her 1985 book, “Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine.”

“Most of the war’s major battles were fought on Virginia soil, and (Richmond) assumed responsibility for an enormous number of the dead and wounded,” Mitchell wrote.

“Richmond became a symbol of what these men had fought for — a shrine to the Old South and the Lost Cause…If Richmond was the temple of the Lost Cause, Hollywood was its inner sanctum.”

The Lost Cause was a distorted version of history, pushed by the Civil War’s losers, that falsely insisted the war wasn’t about slavery, that enslaved people had been happy and that Confederates were saintly, among other claims.

Hollywood claims to be the home of 18,000 Confederate graves, but modern researchers say the number is probably several thousand smaller. Still, Hollywood and the city’s Oakwood Cemetery in the East End appear to be the top two cemeteries in the U.S. in their numbers of Confederate dead.

It seems clear that Hollywood, like Richmond and much of the South, is struggling to reconcile its past and present. Hollywood’s struggle was evident as far back as 1999, when the foreword to a new edition of Mitchell’s book was written by the late Hunter Holmes McGuire Jr., the great grandson of a prominent Confederate surgeon and a surgeon in his own right.

Hollywood, McGuire wrote, has a “unique drawing power for the growing number of people fascinated by the American Civil War. Some unreconstructed rebels come to mourn a ‘lost cause,’ but more and more people realize that what both sides gained in their crucible of sacrifice was a new and better nation.”

Similarly, Hollywood says on its website today that Confederates “went into battle for what seemed then a noble cause of protecting their homes from northern aggression… Now we know that the cause was not a lost one. These men’s lives, along with those of their northern counterparts, were given to forge a single and better nation.”

The cemetery’s flag policy doesn’t mention perceptions of the flag, but Hollywood’s Jenkins acknowledged the flags are offensive to many people. “Don’t infer from the policy statement that we are insensitive to many people’s feelings about the flag.”

Hollywood’s statement says, “Whether and when it may be appropriate for these flags to be flown again in commemoration of the dead will be determined at a later date.” Asked if Hollywood had set a date to revisit the policy, Jenkins said, “No comment.”

Vandalism

The flags’ potential to draw vandals is a major concern at Hollywood.

In summer 2020, vandals cut a rope and stole a large replica of the third national flag of the Confederacy. Last year vandals caused $50,000 to $100,000 in damage when they knocked over several headstones and spray painted one, though that wasn’t in the Confederate part of the cemetery.

Jenkins said he knew of no arrests in the cases.

A recent visit to Hollywood found visitors with mixed feelings about the flag ban.

“Don’t destroy one man’s heritage for another’s,” said a Civil War buff who declined to give his name.

The man later walked to his vehicle, pulled out a miniature version of the rebels’ third national flag and placed it beside a small Confederate battle flag next to the pyramid.

Nelson Bryant, a Maine native living in Henrico County, said he had no problem with the Confederate flags being removed. Of course, Bryant said with a smile, “Down here I’m a damn Yankee.”

Bryant’s wife Anna, raised in Henrico, said, “I’d like to see it come back, the battle flag, but not necessarily at this time.” Perhaps another generation could better deal with it, she said.

“There’s an awful lot tied to the flag,” she said. “But time heals that.”

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Downtown

The Valentine receives major national grant to upgrade archive storage facilities

The Valentine was awarded the largest grant of any other humanities project in Virginia and is in the top 8% of the 245 grant recipients across the country.

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On April 13th, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced a grant awarding $408,761 to The Valentine for new collection storage materials. The grant will go toward the Valentine Moment Campaign, a years-long effort to modernize the museum’s storage facilities and strengthen the presentation of Richmond history by analyzing all 1.6 million objects in its collection.

The Valentine received the full amount requested with a 2:1 matching requirement after demonstrating its commitment to preserving local history, addressing complex social issues, and engaging diverse audiences. The grant will support a $1.6 million project to purchase and install compact storage cabinetry and fixtures in the main museum building, under the umbrella of the larger $16 million Valentine Moment Campaign.

“The Valentine Moment Campaign will fortify our museum to serve Richmonders for generations to come. The NEH’s generous grant is a crucial part of our efforts,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “This infrastructure upgrade allows us to safely store important historical objects, and our goal is to use these objects to engage, challenge and inspire our community.”

The Valentine was awarded the largest grant of any other humanities project in Virginia and is in the top 8% of the 245 grant recipients across the country.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Education

U of R professors awarded $325K NEH Grant for open-source tool to analyze historic images

Statistics professor Taylor Arnold and digital humanities professor Lauren Tilton have received a nearly $325K ($324,693) grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a project to build open-source software for collecting and analyzing digital images.

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Statistics professor Taylor Arnold and digital humanities professor Lauren Tilton have received a nearly $325K ($324,693) grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a project to build open-source software for collecting and analyzing digital images.

Arnold and Tilton created and co-direct Photogrammar, an interactive photo collection focusing on the Great Depression era. The open-access, web-based tool allows users to easily navigate and engage with a collection of 170,000 photographs taken between 1935 and 1943.

The NEH Digital Humanities award will support a project to make the Photogrammar software available to allow anyone with a set of digital images and associated information to create — with no prior programming experience — their own digital public humanities projects.

“The goal of the software is to use interactive data visualization and AI to open up new ways of exploring and understanding digitized collections of images,” said Tilton. “We draw on methods from data science, spatial analysis, natural language processing, and computer vision to provide additional context and information to digital images — context that helps people browse and interpret the materials.”

“We are excited to create this open-source tool that will allow anyone to have this same experience with their own collections,” said Arnold. “We envision people using this software for a variety of different applications, from documentary photography, historic newspapers, and digitized medieval manuscripts.”

In addition to the software, the grant-funded project will produce six case studies that will model and highlight how the software can be used in a variety of different domains, data sizes, and types of institutions including archives, libraries, and museums. Extensive tutorials and documentation will be developed to assist in making the free software broadly accessible to the general public by 2025.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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