404 East Grace Street
Architect, Henry Barnham
A building for those who love fantasy.
This spectacular, small building is Spanish fantasy designed by Richmond architect Henry Barnham for W. W. Foster, owner of the city’s most popular photographic studio.
The building is one of the city’s more elaborate examples of the Spanish/Moorish style, ranking with theaters like the Towne or the Mosque, all of which were built about the same time.
The dark, heavily textured brown brick effectively contrasts with the terra cotta ornament in buff and white. The original show windows and canopies are preserved, marred only by the new sign. The interior carried out the architectural theme, with the entrance hall treated as a diminutive streetscape, and an upper level window overlooking the space.
This building is well preserved; the modern sign makes no effort to compliment the front.
Barnham proposed developing a gas station at the corner of Belvidere and Broad streets with resembled a Mexican village, suggesting that he may have specialized in the Spanish style in its more fantastic expressions. [ADR]
Richmonders may be more familiar with the classic photographs of the Dementi Studio, but Walter Foster operated his own studio here in Richmond from the late 1870s to the mid-1930s. The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (AKA Virginia Historical Society) has a fascinating collection of his glass plate negatives, available online. (Virginia Museum of History & Culture)
(Foster Studios is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert P. Winthrop. 1980.
Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!