RVA Legends — D. A. Ainslie’s Carriage Works

RVA Legends — D. A. Ainslie’s Carriage Works

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

[RVCJ93] — D. A. Ainslie’s Carriage Works
[RVCJ93] — D. A. Ainslie’s Carriage Works

8-12 South Tenth Street
912 East Cary Street
Built, after 1865
Demolished, before 1912

A day job for a silver fox.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 16
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 16

David A. Ainslie, 8 to 12 South Tenth street, is the largest manufacturer of fine carriages and wagons south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers.

He is successor to his father, George A. Ainslie, who was president of the Chamber of Commerce for several terms here, and was, in his lifetime, one of the most prominent and progressive business men of the city.

(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate K — showing ownership by G. A. Ainslie
(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate K — showing ownership by G. A. Ainslie

The business of this house was established by Mr. George A. Ainslie and partners in 1855. The war dissolved that connection, and after it Mr. Ainslie resumed on his own account. He was succeeded by a partnership of his sons, in which he was interested, in 1879, and Mr. David A. Ainslie succeeded that partnership about two years ago. [RVCJ93]

[MCR] — shaded areas showing Evacuation Fire destruction & location of G. A. Ainslie’s carriage works
[MCR] — shaded areas showing Evacuation Fire destruction & location of G. A. Ainslie’s carriage works
Of course, if G. A. Ainslie owned the property depicted above prior to the war, then whatever stood at that location was destroyed by the pitiless Evacuation Fire that gutted much of the downtown on April 1865.

What fun it must have been to be a Confederate fleeing the city — start a blaze and skedaddle. Hoo-wee!

(Chronicling America) — Richmond Dispatch advertisement — Sunday, April 17, 1898
(Chronicling America) — Richmond Dispatch advertisement — Sunday, April 17, 1898

This factory covers an “L” of ground fronting 100 feet on Tenth street and bending through to Cary. It is four stories high, and has a modern equipment of machinery and appliances to facilitate manufacture. It provides employment to 50 or 60 hands, and its product is valued at $225,000 to $250,000 a year, besides which the house, acting as sales agent, disposes of considerable work made in the North and West.

(Chronicling America) — Richmond Dispatch advertisement — Sunday, June 13, 1897
(Chronicling America) — Richmond Dispatch advertisement — Sunday, June 13, 1897

Its specialty is, however, work of its own manufacture, particularly apparatus for fire departments. A hose reel was exhibited by it at the New Orleans World’s Exposition which secured first prize, and it will show work of the same sort at the coming Chicago World’s Fair. It is the only manufacturer of work of this sort in the South.

June 2019 — looking towards 8-12 South Tenth Street
June 2019 — looking towards 8-12 South Tenth Street

A vast amount of light ordered work is made by it for local patrons and for the trade in this and the adjacent States. This work is constructed of the very finest material and has the highest reputation hereabouts for style and finish, and durability also as well.

Mr. Ainslie is himself a member of the Chamber, and an active participant in all its movements to forward Richmond and develop its field. [RVCJ93]

June 2019 — looking towards 912 East Cary Street
June 2019 — looking towards 912 East Cary Street

He was also, at the time of the publication of the 1893 edition of Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James, single. That would change 14 years later in 1907 when at the age of 52 he married Inez Withers Montague, the 50-year-old widow of Percy Montague who had died in 1902. Unfortunately, the state of their marital bliss was not long-lived, and Inez died in April 1915.

There is no record that records David’s mental state in the aftermath of her death, but by the 1930s the native Richmonder had relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. (Ancestry)

(Emporis) — looking towards United Virginia Bank Insurance Headquarters (center)
(Emporis) — looking towards United Virginia Bank Insurance Headquarters (center)

One factor in his change of venue may have been the fate of former place of business. In 1912, the entire area where his “L” shaped carriage works were located was acquired to make way for another of Richmond’s early skyscrapers. Ironically, the United Virginia Bank Insurance Headquarters building that replaced it was itself replaced by the Crestar (now SunTrust) Plaza in 1982.

(D. A. Ainslie’s Carriage Works is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [MCR] Map of the City of Richmond, Virginia, 1861-65. Richmond Civil War Centennial Committee. 1961. Library of Virginia.
  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

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