RVA Legends — Richardson & Chappell

RVA Legends — Richardson & Chappell

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

[RVCJ03] — Richardson & Chappell Mortuary Chapel, circa 1903
[RVCJ03] — Richardson & Chappell Mortuary Chapel, circa 1903

431-441 West Main Street
Built, before 1877
Demolished, circa 1952

“The best equipped establishment of the kind in the south.”

[RVCJ03] — Richardson & Chappell Mortuary Chapel, circa 1903
[RVCJ03] — Richardson & Chappell Mortuary Chapel, circa 1903

The Undertaking Business here, as elsewhere in the country, is combined, often, with embalming, or with the trade in funeral supplies, a trade developing fast with the fast increasing “luxury of woe” in our day; or, it may be (and this in many cases) with the livery and carriage business.

[RVCJ03] — Richardson & Chappell Office, circa 1903
[RVCJ03] — Richardson & Chappell Office, circa 1903

It is a line here not wholly commercial, though of importance enough as a business to merit mention; rather a vocation partaking, embalming particularly, of the professional character.

[RVCJ03] — W. Fred Richardson, Funeral Director, circa 1903
[RVCJ03] — W. Fred Richardson, Funeral Director, circa 1903

There are about a dozen persons and firms of note in this line in Richmond. Nearly all these have places of handsome and appropriate appointments such as the one illustrated herein, which has, among other exequial facilities, its chapel specially fitted up for religious services. The trade has its local organization, protective and regulative.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 88
(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 88 — showing Undertaking Rooms on the 1st floor

The coffins, caskets, trimmings, etc., used in the undertaking business here are mostly made outside the city, chiefly North, but some in North Carolina. There is one factory here, making the cheaper grades of coffins and caskets and one hardware house making a specialty of supplies for the trade. [RVCJ03]

August 2019 — looking towards 431-441 West Main Street today
August 2019 — looking towards 431-441 West Main Street today

Richardson & Chappell formed their partnership in 1897, but by 1910, it was just W. Fred. Richardson. [RVCJ03] [RDC10]. By 1920, the business had moved to 203 North Lombardy and called itself the Richardson Funeral Co. Inc., and by 1930 it was no longer listed in the city directory. [RDC20] [RDC30]

(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate J
(Library of Congress) — Beers Illustrated Atlas of the Cities of Richmond & Manchester, 1877 — Plate J

As for the location, the funeral parlor building appears to have existed in 1877, which means that it could be quite a bit older. It likely met its fate when the Flowers Building was constructed in 1952, a structure that Robert Winthrop politely called “this bland building,” and was itself replaced by the far nicer East Hall of the VCU School of Engineering in 2008. [ADR]

(Richardson & Chappell is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert P. Winthrop. 1982.
  • [RVCJ03] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1903.
  • [RDC10] Richmond City Directory. Hill Directory Co.’s Incorporated. 1910.
  • [RDC20] Richmond City Directory. Hill Directory Co.’s Incorporated. 1920.
  • [RDC30] Richmond City Directory. Hill Directory Co.’s Incorporated. 1930.

rocket_werks

Comments

comments

About Rocket Werks 254 Articles
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.
Contact: Website