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Must-See RVA! — Morris Plan Bank Building

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

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July 2019

AKA, Bank of Virginia, Signet Bank, 8th & Main
800 East Main Street
Build, 1931
Architects, Hoggson Brothers
VDHR 127-6031

Woohoo! Loans with NO collateral!

[ADR] — building in 1981 before the trees covered the exterior ornament

[ADR] — building in 1981 before the trees covered the exterior ornament

The Bank of Virginia, formerly the Morris Plan Bank of Virginia, was built in 1931 by Hoggson Brothers at 800 East Main Street. This three-story, seven-bay wide, limestone-clad Beaux Arts-style bank has a rounded corner with a shallow stepped parapet at the northeast corner of 8th and Main Streets. The first-story is six bays wide with rusticated limestone blocks.

July 2019 — showing door detail

July 2019 — showing door detail

Colossal fluted Doric columns that extend the full height of the building delineate the entrance bay at the curved corner and support the building‟s entablature. The door is framed by an elaborate limestone surround with griffins and carved stone cresting. On the second story, there are six bays, of which the four center bays are recessed behind the colossal columns.

July 2019 — showing roundel

July 2019 — showing roundel

There is a roundel with a carved eagle above the second-story window in the left bay. On the third story, there are five bays, four of which are recessed behind the colossal columns.

(Valentine Museum) — Hotel Stumpf exterior — Cook Studios

(Valentine Museum) — Hotel Stumpf exterior — Cook Studios

The Morris Plan Bank of Virginia was constructed in 1931 at a cost of $280,000by the Hoggson Brothers, an architectural firm from New York City that was active between 1922 and 1935. The bank itself was originally located in the former lobby of Stumpf Hotel, which stood at the northwest corner of Eighth & Main until the new building was completed. (VDHR)

(National Portrait Gallery) — Arthur J. Morris — painted by David Berney, 1949

(National Portrait Gallery) — Arthur J. Morris — painted by David Berney, 1949

A Morris Plan bank was a type of bank first established in 1910 to lend money to individuals who couldn’t obtain loans from mainstream banks. Fidelity Savings & Trust Co. was the first Morris Plan bank; it was founded by Virginia lawyer Arthur Morris. By 1931, there were 109 Morris Plan banks operated via the Morris Plan Co. of America. However, that number declined after the economy recovered from the Great Depression and commercial banks began offering similar loans.

July 2019 — showing entryway rosette

July 2019 — showing entryway rosette

Morris Plan banks were notable for their unique lending strategy, which benefited poor and working-class borrowers. Morris Plan banks did not require collateral for loans, but instead considered the character and community standing of applicants by requiring an applicant to submit two references from peers of similar character and financial status. (Investopedia)

July 2019 — window railing detail

July 2019 — window railing detail

Sadly, the exterior is all that remains of the Hoggson Brothers’ classical goodness. By the time Architecture in Downtown Richmond was written, no significant interior remained. [ADR] It served as office space to Signet Bank and the Virginia Department of Social Services, and then stood vacant until 2016 when it was purchased by The Monument Companies, and converted into a new downtown apartment space, 8th & Main. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

(Morris Plan Bank Building is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

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

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Combining protean forces from the forbidden Zero Serum with the unbridled power of atomic fusion, to better probe the Wisdom of the Ancients and their Forgotten Culture.

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Downtown

Businesses Unite to Bring Change to Monument Avenue

“We believe inclusion is integral to the strength of our organizations, and that symbols antithetical to equality, equity, and unity harm our employees and community.”

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The Monument Commitment is a pledge by Richmond employers to work for change not only along Monument Avenue but in the community.

RVAHub is proud to stand with the businesses below.

If you would like to learn how to add your organization to this commitment email: [email protected]

The pledge reads:

Governor Northam, Mayor Stoney, City Council Members:

We are employers of the Richmond community.

We believe inclusion is integral to the strength of our organizations, and that symbols antithetical to equality, equity, and unity harm our employees and community.

We ask that you commit to support the respectful removal of all the confederate monuments on Monument Avenue in coming months, and do not repair – other than for public safety – the monuments as they currently stand.

For our part, we commit to confronting racism in our organizations and supporting you in eradicating systemic racism in our community.

It is time to take them all down.

Sincerely,

Please note we created this post on Friday morning and since businesses are being added constantly some businesses might not be on the list above. This is not a statement against those businesses just an inability to keep up. This link will give you the most current list of those that have made the commitment.

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Downtown

Wayback RVA — Old Pythian Hall and Mechanics Savings Bank

A Then & Now photo essay of Richmond places from around the area.

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Wayback RVA

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The Old Pythian Hall and Mechanics
Savings Bank, Mr. Jno. Mitchell Jr., Pres.

John Mitchell Jr. was aptly described as “a man who would walk into the jaws of death to serve his race.” Mitchell – newspaper editor, entrepreneur, city councilman and candidate for governor – was one of the most respected black leaders of his day. [RTD]

A fascinating individual. The Shockoe Examiner has an interesting post from 2012 about Mitchell’s grave in Evergreen Cemetery. Alas for the old bank building, it’s former location now rests under the Richmond Convention Center.


(Old Pythian Hall and Mechanics Savings Bank is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


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Community

Black Bear’s Visit to Richmond Comes to a Safe End

No picnic baskets, bears, dogs, cats, or humans were harmed in today’s adventure.

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A black bear decided to explore Richmond today. First spotted on the Northbank Trail he later headed into town. Previous reports earlier in the week had the bear up near Pony Pasture. The picture above is from RACC Instagram which reported on the sedation and transportation of the bear.

We just received a call about a bear-and it really was a bear. Sometimes we laugh and arrive on scene with a giant Rottweiler, but nope-this was a real bear. We named him Fuzzy Wuzzy. Shout out to @richmondpolice for helping keep us safe and to @virginiawildlife for tranquilizing and relocating the bear out of the City!

Bear on Northbank this morning! from r/rva

Here he is in town.

Bear at Byrd and 5th from r/rva

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