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Must-See RVA! — Rosa Bowser House

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

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November 2017

513 North Adams Street
Built, 1900

Like Maggie Walker, Rosa Bowser was a teacher and a tireless organizer.

[WOD] — Rosa Bowser, circa 1893

[WOD] — Rosa Bowser, circa 1893

Rosa L. Dixon Bowser, educator and civic leader, played a key role in implementing reforms that affected Virginia’s African Americans. Bowser was most likely born enslaved. After the American Civil War, she moved to Richmond with her family and enrolled in public school, where she showed remarkable intelligence. She is listed in the first graduating class of the Richmond Colored Normal School. As Richmond’s first colored teacher, she taught at Navy Hill School until she married in 1878. She returned in 1884, and taught at Baker School for 39 years.

(LOC) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 67

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 67

Although Bowser did not seek an active role in public affairs, in August 1895 she founded and became the first president of the Richmond Woman’s League. By July 1896 she had led the league in raising $690 to pay the legal bills of three black Lunenburg County women who were appealing murder convictions, two of them death sentences.

(Virginia Memory) — Virginia Christian, convicted of the murder of Ida V. Belote — 3 June 1912

(Virginia Memory) — Virginia Christian, convicted of the murder of Ida V. Belote — 3 June 1912

In 1912, working with Mary Church Terrell and Maggie Walker, Bowser attempted to aid a young girl sentenced to be electrocuted for murder. Their combined efforts included a direct appeal to the governor of Virginia to reopen the case and commute the sentence. Despite the backing of the National Association of Colored Women, the girl was executed. Bowser and the association also publicly opposed lynching and racial segregation and supported universal woman suffrage.

Bowser became involved in other social causes and supported the founding and funding of organizations for treatment of tuberculosis, improved medical facilities, and medical insurance. As a result of an alliance she forged, the Federated Insurance League joined with the Woman’s League to support a Richmond branch of the Virginia Colored Anti-Tuberculosis League.

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — motto of the Negro Organization Society

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — motto of the Negro Organization Society

The presidency of the association opened the door for Bowser to play major roles in other African American organizations, including the Hampton Negro Conferences and their successor, the Negro Organization Society. She chaired the conferences’ Committee on Domestic Science from 1899 to 1902. At the July 1897 conference Bowser made one of her most notable speeches, “Some of Our Needs,” and appealed to the conference to form girls’ meetings to teach ladylike qualities and to sponsor mothers’ clubs to advise young mothers on childrearing.

(Wikipedia) — Janie Porter Barrett

(Wikipedia) — Janie Porter Barrett

In response to her appeal, additional girls’ and mothers’ meetings were organized in scores of Virginia communities. Bowser also called for reforms in education, increased teacher salaries, and improved housing and education for wayward children. She joined with such influential black Virginians as Janie Porter Barrett and Maggie Lena Mitchell Walker to form the Woman’s Department of the Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia, which raised money for the development of the Industrial Home School for Colored Girls and the Virginia Manual Labor School for Colored Boys, both in Hanover County.

(Find A Grave) — Rosa Bowser

(Find A Grave) — Rosa Bowser

Her efforts on behalf of educators helped create Virginia’s first professional African American teacher’s association, and she later served as its president. The first branch of the Richmond public library to be opened for African Americans was named for Bowser in 1925. [WOD]

An enviable record of accomplishment. Richmond could use a big bronze statue of her too.

(Rosa Bowser House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [WOD] Women of distinction: remarkable in works and invincible in character. Scruggs, L. A. 1893.

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Downtown

Must-See RVA! — Cokesbury Building

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

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April 2020
  • 415 East Grace Street
  • Built, 1921
  • Architects, Carneal & Johnston

Once there was this trendy little bookstore in the heart of the downtown shopping district.

[ADR] — Cokesbury Building in 1981

[ADR] — Cokesbury Building in 1981

This building was built for the Methodist Publishing House and designed by Garnett & Johnston. Its design clearly is related to the Mosby Store at the corner of Jefferson and Broad Streets, by Starrett & Van Vleck.

April 2020 — showing projecting cornice

April 2020 — showing projecting cornice

That design was, in turn, related to McKim, Mead & White’s Gorham Building in New York, a modernized version of an Italianate palazzo with an arcade at the base of the building and a heavy projecting cornice at the roof.

April 2020

April 2020

This design was felt to be a particularly successful blending of traditional and modern features, most appropriate for a modern shop.

April 2020

April 2020

The Cokesbury Building is designed carefully and well detailed. The first floor arcade was glazed fully, but is now closed partially.

April 2020

April 2020

The interior vaulted ceilings have been removed, but the building is otherwise well preserved. The reason for the popularity of this building type is seen easily. It is simple, dignified and impressive. [ADR]

(Richmond Times Dispatch) — Cokesbury Building in 1952

(Richmond Times-Dispatch) — Cokesbury Building in 1952

The Cokesbury Building, with the Cokesbury Bookstore on the first floor, was an outgrowth of the Methodist Episcopal Book Concern. Created in 1789, this organization was established to religious materials for the Methodist church. It would eventually expand to include books and religious supplies and rebranded as the Cokesbury Press in 1925. By 2012, there would be 57 Cokesbury Book Stores nationwide, one of which used to be on Grace Street.

April 2020

April 2020

But in that same year, Cokesbury announced the closure of their brick-and-mortar stores, and today they’re online only. The Grace Street location had long been abandoned by that point, having relocated to Tuckernuck Square shopping center in 1992. A loss, really. They were more than just religious books and often had unusual or hard to find titles, back in the days before Amazon.

Today, it’s the Cokesbury Building Apartments.

(Cokesbury Building is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert Winthrop. 1982.

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Community

Suspects Sought in Credit Card Fraud

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From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the individuals in the attached photo, who are suspected of using a stolen credit to make fraudulent purchases last week.

On Monday, March 30, the victim was notified that their card had been used at the Farm Fresh located in the 2300 block of East Main Street. Surveillance footage shows two females buying food and cigarettes worth over $400 with the victim’s card. They were last seen leaving the store in a silver convertible with a black top. A photo of the vehicle is attached.

Detectives determined the card was also used at the McDonald’s located in the 1800 block of East Broad Street.

Anyone with information about the identity of these suspects is asked to call First Precinct Detective J. Mitchell at (804) 646-0569 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Billy Jack’s Shack Closing for Good

Unfortunately, I’m sure this won’t be the last time we’ll be writing about a restaurant not being able to re-open.

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Billy Jack’s Shack the local spin-off of the Westend’s Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint at 5810 Grove Ave. will not survive the economic downturn of COVID-19. According to this Richmond BizSense.com article on the closure, Jack Brown’s is doing alright for now considering the situation.

Owners Jason Owenby, Mike Sabin, and Aaron Ludwig made the announcement on Billy Jack’s Shack Facebook.

It is with heavy hearts that we make the unfortunate announcement that Billy Jack’s RVA will be closing down permanently. While our time here was brief, the relationships and memories we’ve made are eternal. We appreciate everything that y’all have done for us, especially those of you in the Bone Club. These are difficult times for everyone involved and if you would like to support some of our staff who are now facing employment uncertainty, please feel free to donate at the link below. We can not properly express how much this decision pains us and how bad we are going to miss everyone. Please message with any further questions and stay tuned to our Instagram page for some trips down memory lane

https://www.billyjacksshack.com/tip-yo-server/

 

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