Must-See RVA! — W. J. Ready House

Must-See RVA! — W. J. Ready House

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

June 2019 — looking towards 1111 Grove Avenue, center
June 2019 — looking towards 1111 Grove Avenue, center
  • 1111 Grove Avenue
  • Built, before 1893

Brick Yard

  • Bounded between Everett & Maury &Lawrence & Harrison Streets?

The house that lost its twin.

[RVCJ93] — W. J. Ready’s Brick Yards Manchester, Virginia
[RVCJ93] — W. J. Ready’s Brick Yards Manchester, Virginia

W. J. Ready, builder and brick-maker, of Manchester, has yards covering about fifteen acres of excellent clay lands there, and runs three brick-making machines of capacity to produce 8,000,000 brick a year. He makes red brick of every sort known to the trade. He sells, for the most part, in Richmond and Manchester.

[RVCJ93] — William J. Ready
[RVCJ93] — William J. Ready

He employs between 7.5 and 125 hands, part making brick and the rest on building contracts. He built the new Rountree Trunk Factory here, which cost $10,000, furnished the terra cotta for the new Market building here, and is the builder also of the Young Men’s Christian Association Hall of Richmond, Allen & Ginter’s leaf warehouse, and numerous fine residences of the city.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 20 — showing the general location of W. J. Ready’s brickworks
(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 20 — showing the general location of W. J. Ready’s brickworks

He is now engaged in filling his contract for the erection of the State Reform School at Laurel Station, seven miles out on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. Mr. Ready has been established for ten years here, and before that had yards about seven miles up the canal.

June 2019 — looking southeast towards the former brickyard location at the intersection of Twelfth (formerly Lawrence) and Everett Streets
June 2019 — looking southeast towards the former brickyard location at the intersection of Twelfth (formerly Lawrence) and Everett Streets

He has been very successful in his business, and is the owner of valuable real estate both in Manchester and Richmond, his home, 1111 Grove avenue, Richmond, a modern brick structure, and one of the finest in the city, included. [RVCJ93]

June 2019 — looking towards Riverside Brick & Supply at Twelfth & Maury Streets
June 2019 — looking towards Riverside Brick & Supply at Twelfth & Maury Streets

There is no clear identification where Ready’s brickyard stood, but according to the 1911 Bulletins of the United States Geological Survey there were four brickyards are in operation in Manchester, are all in the vicinity of Knight and Maury streets, including W. J. Ready’s. [USGS]

Indeed, the area seems to have been popular for this occupation for some time. The 1877 Beers maps depict a brickyard in this same area, and Riverside Brick & Supply is still in operation today at Twelfth & Maury. According to their website, their business dates back to 1871. The 1877-78 edition of Chataigne & Gillis’s Virginia Business Directory and Gazetteer for Manchester even lists a Brick Works associated with an M. J. Ready. Probably no coincidence there. [OME]

[RVCJ93] — looking towards 1109-1111 Grove Avenue, circa 1893
[RVCJ93] — looking towards 1109-1111 Grove Avenue, circa 1893
Business for the brick-maker must have been good since he settled himself in a modest three-story behemoth on Grove Avenue.

Although the Colonial Revival continued to dominate the selection of house styles found in the Fan Area during the first two decades of the 20th century, modern styles associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement began to appear especially on undeveloped side streets and on the westernmost blocks of principal streets.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 60
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 60

As early as 1909. Richmond builder, W. J. Ready, had erected a dwelling that was vernacular in spirit but based on the American Foursquare at 2413 Kensington Avenue. [TFAHD]

Despite the fact that the City of Richmond believes that Ready’s modern brick crib was built in 1910, the publication of its picture in Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James in 1893 makes the case that it is actually much older.

June 2019 — looking toward the now-vanished 1109 Grove Avenue
June 2019 — looking toward the now-vanished 1109 Grove Avenue

The building started life as a two-house row, the easternmost of which no longer exists. The Fan went through interesting times in the 60s and 70s, so there’s no telling what state 1109 may have been in at the time it was pulled down. One hopes that it was not entirely for the purpose of building a driveway, the bones of which are all that is left to us.

June 2019 — detail of windows on the turret & facade
June 2019 — detail of windows on the turret & facade

Tucked away in a crowded section of the lower Fan, far away from better-known houses on Franklin, W. J. Ready House is easy to overlook. But unless you’re talking about one of the Fan’s more over-the-top entries, like the Branch House, this Italianate beauty can hold its own with any other in the neighborhood.

(W. J. Ready House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [BRK10] Brick: Volume 10. Windsor and Kenfield Publishing Company. January 1, 1899.
  • [TFAHD] The Fan Area Historic District. Fan of the Fan.
  • [OME] Old Manchester & Its Environs, 1769-1910. Benjamin B. Weisiger III. 1993.
  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.
  • [USGS] United States Geological Survey, Bulletins Nos. 481-484. Department of the Interior. 1911.

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