AKA, Marx-Freeland House
101 South Fifth Street
Architect, Robert Mills (?)
A cautionary tale about playing with gunpowder.
“Hanover House” was built in 1813-14 by Joseph Marx and was so called because the builder’s father had been court physician to the Elector of Hanover. Joseph Marx was born in that German city in 1773. By 1796 he was living in Manchester, his business being that of practically every other merchant in the vicinity of Richmond at that period—importing manufactured goods and taking tobacco or other produce in exchange.
In 1807 he advertised German Oznaburgs, Ticklenburgs, Dowlas and Towelling, which he would sell for cash, tobacco, or approved paper.
Marx had married the sister of another Jew distinguished in the life of early nineteenth-century Richmond—Samuel Myers. Joseph and Richea Myers Marx had nine children, some of whom became the ancestors of many well-known Virginia families. Like other Jewish families of this period in Richmond’s history, the children married Gentiles, and their descendants practically all drifted away from any connection with the Jewish community in Richmond.
Joseph Marx died in 1840 and his house was sold almost immediately. Until 1854 it was owned and occupied by George Taylor. In that year he sold it to John Freeland, who thus joined the ranks of tobacconists who at that time owned most of the fine houses on Fifth Street. The Freelands lived there for nearly two decades, and older people in Richmond still call it the Freeland house. In 1872 John Freeland died, and his house was purchased by William C. Mayo, whose mother had been a daughter of the builder.
During the brief years that the Mayos owned it two of the Mayo children were born in the house their great-grandfather had built. In 1876 Mrs. Mayo’s father, General Henry A. Wise, died at his daughter’s home. He had been Governor of Virginia from 1856 to 1860, and a gallant Confederate soldier.
In 1877 the house was purchased by Major Frederic R. Scott, whose large family added to the liveliness of the neighborhood, both during their tenure of the Marx house and while they were living in the nearby Barney and Allan houses.
Their most spectacular exploit occurred one Christmas morning in the Marx house. It seems that the boys kept an earthenware jug of gunpowder on the mantelpiece. Before their parents were out of bed, the house was shaken by a terrific explosion, and Jim dashed down to his mother’s room, covered with blood! While he was playing in a corner and Fred lying quietly on his bed, Tom had thrown a lighted firecracker, which had unfortunately landed in the jar of gunpowder. The house was not burned down, nor were any of the boys killed, but that Christmas the doctor had a busier time than Santa Claus, sewing up the cuts made by that jug!
Major Scott sold the Marx-Freeland house in 1881, and the purchaser, Wilson C. Thomas, who had just sold the Daniel Call house, lived there for some time. In 1890 it was bought by Major Ginter, who pulled the house down the following year to erect a row of small dwellings on the site.
When first built this must have been one of the handsomest houses in Richmond. It was valued for insurance at $23,000, which was more than the valuation of the Wickham house. The property extended to Sixth Street, the outbuildings (coal-house, bath and smokehouse—an odd combination—laundry and icehouse) running down Cary, and the big carriage-house and stable being at the southwest corner of Sixth and Cary. John Freeland pulled down this latter and put up a tobacco stemmery in 1859—the factory area was creeping up and he had sealed the doom of his house.
From the beginning the Marx house had entrance-porches on the east and west sides and a two-story portico on the south. It is noticeable that both here and at “Moldavia” the portico was on the side rather than in the rear, where it invariably was in later houses. “Hanover House” seems to have been stuccoed from the time it was built. The proportions of the exterior are similar to those of the Wickham house—low and broad compared with its height.
Since few people remember the interior, it is difficult to say whether the tradition among the descendants of Joseph Marx that the house was designed by Robert Mills is well-founded or whether it is only a legend.
The chimneys, however, were placed on the outer walls, where those of the Wickham house were closer together, near the centre of the roof. The triple windows on the first floor recall those of the Wickham house, and all the windows seem to have retained their early mouldings. The cornice, however, is evidently of later date than the house. Like the smaller dwelling next door the Marx house had a belt-course and rectangular panels under the second-story windows, the two crowded rather close together for beauty.
Of course, row houses built by Richmond’s great real-estate developer can’t compete with the soulless splendor of a parking deck, which is what remains today.
(Hanover House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.
Library of Virginia Literary Awards Winners Announced
Cottom, Tilghman, and Kingsley are the 2020 recipients honored by the Library of Virginia.
The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the winners of the 23rd Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards, which were held virtually this year. Sponsored by Dominion Energy, the October 17 awards celebration was hosted by best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker Adriana Trigiani. Awards categories were nonfiction, fiction, and poetry; People’s Choice Awards for fiction and nonfiction; and Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. Winners in each category receive a monetary prize and a handsome engraved crystal book.
The winner of the 2020 Literary Award for Nonfiction is Tressie McMIllan Cottom for her book Thick: And Other Essays.
“The provocative and brilliant chapters hold a mirror to the soul of America in painfully honest and gloriously affirming explorations of contemporary culture,” wrote the award judges. “Streetwise and erudite, Cottom explodes the myth that the ‘personal essay’ is the only genre in mainstream publishing and journalism open for public commentary by female writers of color.”
Cottom, who has just been named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow, is a recipient of the Doris Entwisle Award of the American Sociological Association for her scholarship on inequality, work, higher education, and technology. In addition to Thick, she is the author of Lower Ed and her work has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, PBS, NPR, Fresh Air, and The Daily Show, among others. She recently left Richmond, where she had been an associate professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, for a position at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
The other finalists for the nonfiction prize were Erik Nielson and Andrea L. Dennis for Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America and Mary M. Lane for Hitler’s Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich.
Christopher Tilghman won the 2020 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction for his book Thomas and Beal in the Midi. “This lushly written novel follows an interracial American couple in a family saga after they emigrate to escape bigotry in 1892,” wrote the award judges. “Its evocative descriptions of fin de siècle France and skillfully drawn characters add up to a sensitive and satisfying portrait of a marriage.”
Tilghman is the author of two short-story collections, In a Father’s Place and The Way People Run, and three previous novels, Mason’s Retreat, The Right-Hand Shore, and Roads of the Heart. He is a professor of English at the University of Virginia and lives with his wife, the novelist Caroline Preston, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in Centreville, Maryland.
The other finalists for the fiction award were Angie Kim for Miracle Creek and Tara Laskowski for One Night Gone.
Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley is the winner of the Poetry Award this year for his book Colonize Me, which explores the experience of living as a Native American in today’s America. “The poems emerge from overlapping histories of violence and struggle not as fractured identity but as integrated multiplicity” wrote the award judges. “Kingsley uses form and language to indict the micro and macro aggressions of colonization with irony, heartbreak, and joy.”
An Affrilachian author and Kundiman alum, Kingsley is a recipient of the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and Tickner Fellowships. His is also the author of Not Your Mama’s Melting Pot (2018) and Dēmos (coming in 2021). He is an assistant professor of English in Old Dominion University’s MFA program.
The other finalists for the poetry award were Lauren K. Alleyne for Honeyfish and David Huddle for My Surly Heart.
The Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award went to Philip J. Deloria for his book Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract. In Becoming Mary Sully, Deloria reclaims the artist’s work from obscurity, exploring her stunning portfolio through the lenses of modernism, industrial design, Dakota women’s aesthetics, mental health, ethnography and anthropology, primitivism, and the American Indian politics of the 1930s. Presented by the Library and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Art in Literature Award recognizes an outstanding book published in the previous year that is written primarily in response to a work (or works) of art while also showing the highest literary quality as a creative or scholarly work. This unique award, established in 2013, is named in honor of Mary Lynn Kotz, author of the award-winning biography Rauschenberg: Art and Life.
The winners of the People’s Choice Awards are The Substitution Order by Martin Clark in the fiction category and Mary Ball Washington: The Untold Story of George Washington’s Mother by Craig Shirley in the nonfiction category. Winners are chosen by online voting.
“The Substitution Order mixes legal expertise and wry humor in a story rich with atmosphere, memorable characters, and surprises right up to the end,” wrote the judges about the novel by Martin Clark, who is a circuit court judge in Patrick County, Virginia.
“Craig Shirley’s sprightly biography suggests that George Washington’s first fight for independence was from his controlling, singular mother—a resilient widow who singlehandedly raised six children on a large farm,” wrote the judges about Mary Ball Washington. Shirley is an author and public affairs consultant who splits his time between homes on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County and a 300-year-old Georgian manor house in Tappahannock, Virginia.
The evening’s featured speaker was Douglas Brinkley, who was honored for his outstanding contributions to American history and literature as an award-winning, best-selling author and U.S. presidential historian. In addition to our presenting sponsor, Dominion Energy, the Literary Awards were made possible by Liz and Preston Bryant Jr., Christian & Barton LLP, MercerTrigiani, Anna Moser and Peter Schwartz, Kathy and Steve Rogers, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Carole and Marcus Weinstein, Weinstein Properties, and the Library of Virginia Foundation.
Next year’s Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration will be held on October 16, 2021.
Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday
Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.
By Sam Fowler
Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.
Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery. The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.
“Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States,” Northam said during a press conference held that day. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginia, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”
Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, introduced a bill in the legislative session earlier this year to recognize Juneteenth, but the proposal didn’t advance.
Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia-native Pharrell Williams. Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off. Some Virginia localities, such as Richmond and several places in Hampton Roads, also observed the holiday this year.
“I think it is overdue that the Commonwealth formally honor and celebrate the emancipation and end of slavery,” Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, a co-patron of the bill, said in an email. “It was a step towards fulfilling the promise of equality contained in our founding documents.”
The Elegba Folklore Society, a Richmond-based organization focused on promoting African culture, history and arts, is one of the groups that has been celebrating the holiday for decades. The celebration usually is a three-day weekend event that looks at the history of Juneteenth. A torch-lit walk down the Trail of Enslaved Africans in Richmond is also held, said Janine Bell, the society’s president and artistic director.
“We take time to just say thank you to our ancestors, their contributions, their forfeitures, their trials and tribulations,” Bell said. “We invite people to Richmond’s African burial ground so that we can go there and pay homage from a perspective of African spirituality.”
Juneteenth should not be used as another holiday to look for bargains in stores, Bell said. It should be a time for reflection about liberty, as well as for celebration and family strengthening.
“It’s a time for optimism and joy,” Bell said.
The Elegba Folklore Society broadcasted its Juneteenth event online this year due to the coronavirus. Although there were still around 7,000 views, Bell said that it is usually much larger and has international influence.
Cries for police reform and social justice continue to increase, Bell said. More attention is being drawn to the racial disparities across America. With this, people have been changing their priorities concerning issues such as discrimination.
“This was a step towards equity,” Bell said about the bill. “A symbolic step, but a step nonetheless.”
State workers will be off during Juneteenth. If the job requires individuals to come in to work, then they will be compensated with overtime or extra pay, said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, a patron for the bill.
The General Assembly wrapped up the agenda last week for the special session that began Aug. 18. Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice reform and issues related to COVID-19.
Suspect Sought in Theft from Broad Street Building
It’s not stated by RPD but based on Tweets earlier this week we believe this is Mayor Stoney’s re-election headquarters.
Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help to identify the individual in the attached photos who is suspected of stealing from a building on West Broad Street on Monday.
During the early morning hours on Monday, October 12, the suspect entered the building in the 2600 block of W. Broad Street and stole a large television from the common area. The suspect was last seen heading west on Broad Street with the TV.
Anyone with information about the identity of this suspect is asked to call Fourth Precinct Detective K.L. Robinson at (804) 646-6820 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.