RVA Legends — Cottrell Saddlery Co.

RVA Legends — Cottrell Saddlery Co.

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

[RVCJ03] — Cottrell’s new plant at 1328-1332 East Franklin Street, circa 1903

1328-1332 East Franklin Street
Build, before 1903
Demolished, circa 1958

[RVCJ03] — 1328-1332 East Franklin Street, circa 1903

A business plan doomed to failure.

(LOC) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 8

The Saddlery and Harness Business is an old and important line. There was one factory here before the Civil War, which, during that war, furnished the armies of the Confederacy with harness largely. This house still survives. After the war for a time the business declined somewhat, but of late years, within the last eight or ten years, has developed again.

[RVCJ03] — Samuel S. Cottrell

At present there are two plants of considerable size engaged in manufacture, and about ten or twelve smaller concerns supplying the local trade. The largest establishment in the trade here is the one above referred to. [RVCJ03]

[RICH] — circa 1906 in front of the Shenandoah, West Grace Street & Allen Avenue
You pick: committing to the future of horsemanship as the means of daily transportation was either a bold gamble or a tooth-clenched rejection of the future that was surely coming?

By the turn of the 20th century, the automobile had not yet replaced horses, and you can bet that the City of Richmond still had budget dollars allocated for sweeping up poop.

[RICH] — 1910 at the Country Club of Virginia
Still, Henry Ford starting building cars in 1896 and founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903. General Motors and Chrysler were right on his heels, and it didn’t take long for the Age of the Automobile, and the economic revolution that came with it to take hold of the American imagination.

(Worthpoint) — S. S. Cottrell’s Son letterhead

Once upon a time, visitors arriving in Richmond were told to set their watches back 20 years, so Sam Cottrell’s bet on the nags may have received nods of affirmation from the business community. The automobile! Fah! Get a horse!

February 2019 — approximate location of 1328-1332 East Franklin Street today

Time was not on the side of such ventures, nor on the side of this part of town. Shockoe Hill would be completely reconfigured in the wake of the construction of new agency buildings for Commonwealth during the late 50s and early 60s.

(Cottrell Saddlery Co. is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


  • [RICH] Richmond, A Pictorial History. Thomas E. Hale and Louis H. Manarin. 1974.
  • [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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