RVA Legends — T. J. King Company’s Seed House

RVA Legends — T. J. King Company’s Seed House

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

[RVCJ09] — 1600 East Franklin Street, before 1901

1600 East Franklin Street
Built, before 1877
Demolished, circa 1901

Okay, someone’s got some ‘splainin to do.

(LOC) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate L — 1600 East Franklin showing ownership by Mrs. Carrington

A growing line, one to be remarked on account of its development lately, is the Nursery Business, the floral branch of it especially. In the immediate vicinity of Richmond there are half a dozen flower growers and two concerns cultivating trees, plants and ornamental growths. The seed trade also has its representation. All the greenhouses included it is estimated that there are about 350,000 to 400,000 feet area under glass. Richmond is a liberal buyer of flowers, particularly at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 4 — 1600 East Franklin 12 years later

The fall chrysanthemum trade is large. Besides the home trade nearly as much business is done outside the city, in this State and in North Carolina particularly. Lynchburg, Norfolk and Raleigh are supplied from here largely. The cultivation of choice varieties of flowers, as a specialty, is extensively pursued. Several of the flower growers have won fame in the trade with their products, in violets, roses, carnations and dahlias particularly. The cut flower business supports a number of stores that buy from the growers.

(LOC) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 19 — 1600 East Franklin 12 years later showing empty lot

Winter is, of course, the harvest time of the florists. Greenhouses are a conspicuous feature of the landscape along the roads in nearly all the suburbs of the city. Besides those of the regular growers (one of which, at least, is a show place of the city), there are a number of very fine private establishments of this nature. Hedges are common and the climate is one unfavorable to such flowers and plants as flourish in the open. [RVCJ03]

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — 1600 East Franklin is hidden by the train shed at center

So what’s the problem? The Chamber of Commerce book Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James, published in 1903, clearly depicts T. J. King’s seed house standing at 1600 East Franklin. Unfortunately, the C & O Railroad depot, also known as Main Street Station, was built in 1901. The Sanborn map above, showing an empty lot, was published in 1905.

February 2019 — 1600 East Franklin Street today

The picture from Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James shows an empty lot to the left of the seed house, while the Beers and Baist maps clearly show other structures present. Perhaps T. J. King tried to stick it out where he was rather than move, but it appears he only delayed the inevitable. By 1905, the building was gone.

(T. J. King Company’s Seed House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


  • [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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