533 Brook Avenue
That’s right, Skippy – Brook Avenue. Street names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Let those who want to visualize Richmond streets of the early 1800’s thread their way through Brook Avenue, which runs at a tangent north from Broad at its intersection with Adams, descends to Bacon Quarter Branch, and climbs the hill on the far side until it merges with a straight modern double road down which the Ashland carline formerly ran.
According to Mordecai, Brook Avenue was the oldest turnpike road leading into the city. The tobacco wagons followed it, turned east on Broad and then rumbled down the steep hill that is now Governor Street to the inspection warehouses. As late as 1845 it could still be called “the principal point of access to the city.” [ORN]
There is no national (or international) standard on what constitutes a street versus a road, or an avenue, or boulevard, but generally, a road is a route between two endpoints that has been made passable to permit travel. Might be paved, might not. An avenue indicates a main thoroughfare within a city – wider and straighter.
Somewhere in the creation of Chamberlayne to pull Route 1 directly into the city, it became the avenue. Brook, refactored with the construction of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike, became just a road.
The most extraordinary building of any date on Brook was built in 1860 by George Meyer, who operated a saloon there as late as 1885. The corner of Brook Avenue and Leigh forms an acute angle, to which the flat-iron shaped house is fitted. Though some of the wooden porches and excrescences must have been added, they make today a bizarre ensemble. [ORN]
Look at the architecture of Brook Road today and it appears it was originally much wider. Orient yourself at the Northeast corner of Monroe Street and Brook Avenue, assume a wider lane, and you get a view much like that in Mary Wingfield Scott’s undated photo at top. The white house from the 2014 image is strikingly similar to Mary Wingfield Scott’s historic photo of the same location, with an identical cornice.
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