Must-See RVA! — Foster Studios

Must-See RVA! — Foster Studios

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

February 2019

404 East Grace Street
Built, 1927
Architect, Henry Barnham

A building for those who love fantasy.

(Wikimedia) — from the 1911 Richmond Directory, showing the location before the Foster Studio building was constructed

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.

February 2019

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.

February 2019

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.

[ADR] — showing the uncomplimentary modern sign above the canopy

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]

(FindAGrave) — Walter Washington Foster

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.


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