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Must-See RVA! — J. B. Mosby Dry Goods Store

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

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201-205 West Broad Street
Built, 1916
Architects, Starrett & Van Vleck; Associate Architects, Carneal & Johnston

If ever you’re looking for an expression of Southern Lost Cause chip-on-the-shoulder defiance, with just a touch of bitterness, look no further than the grand opening of J. B. Mosby’s Dry Goods Store.

(Chronicling America) — Richmond Times-Dispatch — Sunday, September 30, 1917 — advertisement announcing the new store’s grand opening

The building itself is a Richmond product.

[RVCJ03] — Samuel Binwanger, Founder of Binwanger & Co., Builder’s Supplies — H. S. Binswanger, Director of Binswanger & Company, Incorporated, Building Materials

We refer with pleasure to our Contractors, The Wise Granite Company; also our Sub-Contractors, The Richmond Structural Steel Co., Pomborton & Benson, W. F. Mahoney, W. B. Catlett, Mr. Granville Gray, manager of the Otis Elevator Co.; Fulton Brick Works. Binswanger & Co. and others, all of Richmond, who completed this building in the specified time, five months, thereby establishing for themselves a most enviable record.

(Library of Virginia) — Carneal & Johnston Negative Collection — ca. 1916

Carneal & Johnson, of Richmond, were the associate architects, whose able services helped in a large measure to make this beautiful building possible.

In other words, the Mosby store, admitted by everybody to be without a superior in the United States for beauty and convenience, is distinctly a Richmond product from its conception to its completion.

(Chronicling America) — Richmond Times-Dispatch — Sunday, September 30, 1917 — advertisement announcing the new store’s grand opening

For some years past we have felt the necessity for a new and modern building to take care of the rapidly increasing business so liberally bestowed upon us by the people of Richmond and vicinity. The present site at Jefferson and Broad Streets was selected from the best figures available as being the center of the residential section of Richmond in the near future.

[ADR] — J. B. Mosby Building in 1981, abandoned for a decade — note the sign at lower left, For Sale Rent 266-9656

We have just opened on our third floor three new departments, devoted exclusively to furnishings for Babies, Children and Juniors. Each department is separate and complete in Its appointments. Everything for the Baby from its birth up to six years of age. The Department for Children comprises all furnishings necessary between six and twelve years, and the Junior Department up to seventeen years, including Party Dresses, etc.

(Commonwealth Times) — interior of the former J. B. Mosby Dry Goods Store, now Quirk Hotel

The present house of J. B. Mosby & Co. began business many years ago under the firm name of Temple, Pemberton, Cordes & Co., with Mr. J. B. Mosby as a silent partner and identified with the retail dry goods business since ‘65. Shortly afterward Messrs. Temple, Pemberton and Cordes retired from the firm. At this time two young men, George C. Dietrich, Jr., and Eugene A. Deitrich, who had been connected with the business from its beginning, were then admitted into partnership. the firm name becoming J. B. Mosby & Co.

At a later date the business was incorporated.

(Architecture Richmond) — interior of the former J. B. Mosby Dry Goods Store, now Quirk Hotel

In 1912 Mr. Mosby retired from active business on account of failing health and disposed of his holding to his two younger partners, who have since continued the business under the old firm name, with E. A. Dietrich as president; George C. Dietrich, Jr., vice-president, and E. G. Hulcher, secretary and treasurer.Mr. Hulcher also having been connected with the business since boyhood.

In February, 1917, Mr. J. C. Warriner and Mr. J. F. Jones, faithful employees of the firm for many years, were admitted to an interest in the business. (Chronicling America)

[RHC] — circa 1944 — Selective Service System-Richmond City Local Wards, left 1st floor window — Richmond Veterans’ Information and Service Center, right 1st floor window

Junius B. Mosby is not to be confused with John Singleton Mosby of Mosby’s Raiders. The former surrendered with Lee’s forces at Appomattox in 1865, whereas the latter did not formally surrender until June 17th of that year. Both Junius and John were also born in Powhatan, so you have to think they were related, but despite an attempt to decode their family tree, it remains unresolved.

Today, the former dry goods store is Quirk Hotel, the brainchild of Ted Ukrop. Architecture Richmond has an excellent write-up about its transformation by none other than the redoubtable Robert P. Winthrop, and is well worth reading. He points out that the building, despite the grand opening’s claims to the contrary, not solely a Richmond project.

(J.B. Mosby Dry Goods Store is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Sources

  • [RHC] Richard Hayes Collection. Dementi Studio photograph. Circa 1944.
  • [RVCJ03] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1903.

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