AKA, Maybee House
2605 East Franklin Street
A former orphanage, right on top of Church Hill.
The Children’s Home Society of Virginia was organized in 1899, and chartered by the General Assembly on 30 January 1900. Inspired by the work of the National Children’s Home Society, it was born of concern on the part of its founders for the plight of abandoned and neglected children. As stated in its charter, the Society’s goal was “finding family homes for homeless, indigent, or dependent poor children in the State of Virginia, and other purposes incident thereto.”
The Board of Directors selected John Garland Pollard as the Society’s first president and the Reverend William J. Maybee as state superintendent. Maybee, who was to hold that position for nearly 30 years, articulated the ethos of the Society when he wrote in 1903 that “We are not to imagine that children of humble birth are therefore inferior, on the contrary the homeless child of the street is of the same clay as the petted darling of the wealthy…Both Christianity and civilization may be quite correctly measured by their treatment of childhood.”
The Society received children in one of two ways, parental placement or court commitment. Representatives of the CHS traveled the state gathering children who were made wards of the Society and brought them back to Richmond. The children then underwent “a thorough system of renovation” that included the provision of “clean and comfortable garments,” basic etiquette training, and examinations by medical and psychological doctors.
Initially, wards were placed under the care of Rev. Maybee’s wife, Mary McLeod Maybee, and the Belle Bryan Day Nursery. In 1905, the Board purchased a house at 2605 East Franklin Street to serve as a receiving home and central office; another receiving home was opened in Roanoke in 1920. Local advisory boards around Virginia handled much of the recruitment and screening of foster families, and helped monitor foster placements. Those children who were never adopted remained the responsibility of the CHS until they reached adulthood, became self-supporting, or married.
Change came to the Society in 1926 when it joined the Child Welfare League of America and began a process of reorganization based on League observations. Their recommendations touched on a variety of areas including fire safety in the receiving homes, hygiene, nutrition, record-keeping, the manner of disciplining the children, the selection of foster homes, and other topics. One major adjustment resulting from the study came with the shift to a staff of trained social workers.
With its budget coming entirely from donations (and, starting in 1930, from the Richmond Community Fund), the Society struggled financially in its early years. By the early 1930’s it was in danger of closing under the weight of $50,000 in debt. Led by then-Governor John Garland Pollard and other prominent supporters, the state-wide “Spring Emergency Campaign” of 1931 yielded enough funds to erase the Society’s debt and bring a measure of financial stability. The Society later partnered with the United Way for several years as an additional source of funds.
The receiving home was closed in 1934, signaling the Society’s move to an emphasis on temporary boarding home (foster) care in advance of permanent adoption placement. (Children’s Home Society of Virginia)
Madge Goodrich researched this house in 1937 for the Works Progress Administration of Virginia.
The Children’s Home Society of Virginia was an orphanage. The society owned the house from 1905 till 1921. It was conducted for a number of years by Dr. Mabie (sic), who later moved the orphanage to Highland Park. The house is often spoken of as the Mabie House, from this fact. The children were under the age of twelve and four. The house being too small for their numbers, the Society rented a part of the house at the west for about five years.
Although Madge was not able to determine a date, the City of Richmond calls it at 1859, so we’ll roll with that. She does note that it was owned by Hector Davis at the time, and sold the following year to Alexander Walker. (Library of Virginia)
The Children’s Home Society of Virginia is still going strong, now performing their worthy function in the Near West End on Fitzhugh Avenue.
(Children’s Home Society of Virginia is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!
VMHC partnering with VPM to honor the centennial of the 19th Amendment with panel talk, new documentary
On Friday, August 14, the VMHC will host a live panel discussion with the historians featured in the film. They will share their insights on this pivotal movement Virginia’s history, and will also take questions from participants live during this virtual discussion.
The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) is partnering with VPM to celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote this month. “These Things Can Be Done”, a documentary produced by Boedeker Films and with support from the Commonwealth of Virginia Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration in partnership with the VMHC, explores the often-overlooked narrative of women’s suffrage in Virginia will premier this Thursday, August 13 on VPM. To learn more about the film and see the trailer, visit SuffrageFilm.com.
On Friday, August 14, the VMHC will host a live panel discussion with the historians featured in the film. They will share their insights on this pivotal movement Virginia’s history, and will also take questions from participants live during this virtual discussion. Speakers on the program will be Barbara Batson from the Library of Virginia, Ajena Rogers from the Maggie Walker National Historic Site, Dr. Karen Sherry from the VMHC, Dr. Sandra Treadway from the Library of Virginia and Christina Vida from the Valentine. To participate online for free, participants can join the livestream at noon on Friday on the VMHC Facebook page or YouTube Channel.
RTD has the History of Nickel aka Boulevard Bridge
Learn more about our favorite bridge (that we can use) across the James. Mayo is a close second for those keeping track.
Living only a few blocks from the historic bridge means it has a special spot in my heart. I’ve crossed it countless times both on foot and in the car. I’ve seen bald eagles, osprey, kayaks, rafts, inner tubes, and a fair share of questionable driving. With it be such a prominent part of my life it was fascinating to get more details on the bridge from RTD.
They’ve provided a nice timeline and photos. My favorite bit of new information:
Jan. 5, 1925 — Thousands of motorists availed themselves of the decided moderation in temperature, combined with the fact that yesterday was the last day that motorists and others were allowed to cross the structure free of toll charges, and “tried out” the Boulevard Bridge.
Hundreds of automobiles, from the flivver to the more pretentious high-powered car, crossed the bridge during the day. At times there were so many of the gasoline-propelled cars on the structure that progress was made only at a snail’s pace.
An attache of the Boulevard Bridge Corp. essayed to keep a tally of the cars crossing the structure and succeeded fairly well until he had counted 5,000. At that juncture, however, they were coming so fast and so thickly that he got lost in the mathematical jungle and gave up in despair.