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Must-See RVA! — Children’s Home Society of Virginia

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

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September 2019

AKA, Maybee House
2605 East Franklin Street
Built, 1859

A former orphanage, right on top of Church Hill.

(Children’s Home Society of Virginia) — Our Receiving Home and Central Office, 2605 East Franklin Street, Richmond, Va.

(Children’s Home Society of Virginia) — Our Receiving Home and Central Office, 2605 East Franklin Street, Richmond, Va.

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.”

(Children’s Home Society of Virginia) — Children’s Home Society of Virginia first Board of Directors

(Children’s Home Society of Virginia) — Children’s Home Society of Virginia first Board of Directors

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.”

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Children’s Home Society of Virginia in The Presbyterian of the South — June 25, 1919

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Children’s Home Society of Virginia in The Presbyterian of the South — June 25, 1919

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.

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Children’s Home Society of Virginia in Richmond Times-Dispatch — Sunday, June 8, 1919

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Children’s Home Society of Virginia in Richmond Times-Dispatch — Sunday, June 8, 1919

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.

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Children’s Home Society of Virginia in Richmond Times-Dispatch — Sunday, June 15, 1919

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Children’s Home Society of Virginia in Richmond Times-Dispatch — Sunday, June 15, 1919

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.

(Library of Virginia) — Virginia Historical Inventory Photographs, Works Progress Administration Collection — 1937

(Library of Virginia) — Virginia Historical Inventory Photographs, Works Progress Administration Collection — 1937

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)

(Library of Virginia) — Virginia Historical Inventory Photographs, Works Progress Administration Collection — 1937

(Library of Virginia) — Virginia Historical Inventory Photographs, Works Progress Administration Collection — 1937

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)


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Wholesale and Retail, Wines and Liquors

A look back at the corner 18th and Franklin Streets.

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Wayback RVA

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Wholesale and Retail, Wines and Liquors
Mr. S. W. Robinson, Prop.
Corner 18th and Franklin Sts.

Spottswood W. Robinson was born in King William Co., Va. Dec. 15, 1858, attended school in the country only six months and has never attended any educational institution since. He left King William Co., and came to Richmond and stayed with Dr. O. A. Crenshaw attending to milk dairy etc. He remained with him about one year. He then went to Mr. N. J. Smith and remained with him in business from ‘71 to ’79. At that time he went into business for himself on Main St., bet. 18th and 19th Sts. He removed then to 16 N. 18th St., and from there to his present location, No. 23 N. 18th St. (Richmond Planet)

And there’s Masonic Hall right behind where this used to be.


(Wholesale and Retail, Wines and Liquors is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


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Hills & Heights

Must-See RVA! — Church of the Sacred Heart

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

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March 2020
  • AKA, Sacred Heart Catholic Church
  • 1401 Perry Street
  • Built, 1901
  • Architect, Joseph Hubert McGuire
  • VDHR 127-0859-0244

That other Sacred Heart, in ol’ Manchester.

[FAM] — Bishop James Gibbons

[FAM] — Bishop James Gibbons

In 1876 Bishop James Gibbons purchased a tract at Fourteenth and Perry Streets. There were forty to fifty Catholic families in Manchester and norther Chesterfield County at this time. Most worshipped in Richmond at St. Peter’s Cathedral on Grace Street or at St. Mary’s Church on Marshall Street. In 1897 a new school was built next to the Fourteenth and Perry Street property.

March 2020 — Ida Mary Barry Ryan, AKA Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan

March 2020 — Ida Mary Barry Ryan, AKA Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan

About this time the wealthy Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan of New York offered to build a church at Fourteenth and Perry Streets and a school across the street. She requested that the school be named Sacred Heart. The church was so named, and also the school. [OME]

(Find A Grave) — Thomas Fortune Ryan

(Find A Grave) — Thomas Fortune Ryan

What the lady wants, the lady gets. But let’s back the bus up.

The church and school that shaped leaders of the Catholic community in southside Virginia are significant because of their association with Thomas Fortune Ryan and his wife Ida Mary Barry Ryan. Ryan, a native Virginian, noted financier and patron of the arts, donated more than twenty million dollars to Roman Catholic causes throughout his life.

That includes funding the construction of a new Catholic cathedral across from Monroe Park.

That project would break ground in 1903, two years after Church of the Sacred Heart, and when finished in 1906, the new cathedral would supplant St. Peter’s as the seat of the diocese.

It would also be called Sacred Heart and would be designed by the same architect, but the version on Perry Street came first.

March 2020 — showing front elevation

March 2020 — showing front elevation

The two churches could not be more different stylistically. One is an Italian Renaissance Revival masterpiece; the other, an ode to red brick.

The front elevation (southeast) is divided into three primary sections with narrow lancet-style windows flanking the central section, and a corner tower to the southeast. There are three rectangular windows above the belt course in the central section separated from the elaborate Roman arch window by decorative circle and square brickwork.

March 2020 — showing arched fenestration

March 2020 — showing arched fenestration

Roman arched fenestration is typical throughout the Church of the Sacred Heart with the exception of the three rectangular windows mentioned above. A corbel table at the roofline frames the elaborate round-arched stained-glass window on the front facade. The corner tower has a granite foundation and steps leading to arched doorcases with double-leaf doors capped by fanlights and frontons, or pediments supported by large paired brackets.

March 2020 — showing recessed brick panel

March 2020 — showing recessed brick panel

Recessed brick panels with corbel tables, an open attic with columns and balustrade, and a pyramidal roof with flared eaves complete the tower. Clear delineation of the bays by the use of pilasters and brick corbelling, use of circle and square motifs and overall visual hints of the underlying skeletal structure, all suggest an Ecole des BeauxArts influence in the design.

March 2020 — showing eight-panel doors, fanlight and fronton

March 2020 — showing eight-panel doors, fanlight and fronton

The Church of the Sacred Heart is entered through six-panel doors, surmounted by fanlights and frontons, on the southeast and northeast facades of the corner tower. Square coffers in the ceiling of the tower and west porch entries, simple geometric patterns in the stained-glass windows, plain unadorned walls as well as the circle and square motif in the gallery balustrade reflect the Renaissance Revival style on the church interior.

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing Roman arch and altars

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing Roman arch and altars

A Roman arch, once flanked by altars on both sides, separates the apse from the nave. The Roman arch, echoed down the nave by the hammer-beam ceiling, is used to further delineate each bay.

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing rose window

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing rose window

The arched window in the southeast facade is mirrored in the apse end by a stained-glass rose window above the altar. The elevated framed arched windows that line the nave, and the Doric-style columns with brackets in the manner of the Badia di Fiesole all enhance the Renaissance character of this building.

March 2020

March 2020

The church is a testament to the power of a single patron. The church and school that shaped leaders of the Catholic community in southside Virginia are significant because of their association with Thomas Fortune Ryan and his wife Ida Mary Barry Ryan. (VDHR)

March 2020 — showing twenty-panel door

March 2020 — showing twenty-panel door

It’s also a thing of beauty, easy for the casual commuter to miss as they cruise down Perry Street. If this is you, dear reader, you owe it to yourself to take a moment and check it out yourself.

As for the disconnect between the Department of Historic Resources’s count of the door panels and what actually hangs on hinges today, the only conclusion to draw is that they must have been replaced sometime after the church joined the historic registry in 2002.

(Church of the Sacred Heart is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [FAM] Famous Living Americans. Edited, Mary Griffin Web & Edna Lenore Webb. 1915.
  • [OME] Old Manchester & its Environs, 1769 – 1910. Benjamin B. Weisinger III. 1993.

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Arts & Entertainment

Stuck at home? Explore some of Virginia’s most significant historic, cultural sites online for free

Just because you’re social distancing it doesn’t mean you cant explore some of Virginia’s most magnificent cultural and historical sites virtually, online, for free. Here’s a roundup of where you can explore and what you can learn.

RVAHub Staff

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By Caroline Logan, Virginia Tourism

With the international crisis regarding COVID-19, also referred to as Coronavirus, visitors may be canceling or rescheduling upcoming travel plans and staying home.

While people are self-isolating and social distancing, many museums, historic sites, and other tourism destinations are offering virtual options for visitors to explore and learn.

Mount Vernon will continue its mission to educate people around the world through its robust digital presence. The historic site will provide digital tours of the mansion through mountvernon.org/virtualtour. The Washington Library has also prepared digital resources for students and their parents will be working with its network of teachers nationwide to support their educational efforts. These resources can be accessed at mountvernon.org/digital. Mount Vernon’s YouTube channel also features a livestream of the estate’s newborn lambs.

Monticello hosts a number of online exhibits including “The Declaration Around the World,” “The Life of Sally Hemings,” and “Paradox of Liberty: Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello,” among many others. Users can also download the Slavery at Monticello: Life and Work on Mulberry Row app for free.

James Madison’s Montpelier has publicly accessible blog posts, websites, podcasts, and social media posts for visitors to enjoy. Access to podcasts and video series can be found on the site’s YouTube page. Those interested in the research, history, archaeology, and collecting at Montpelier can visit the Digital Doorway for a wealth of information at digitaldoorway.montpelier.org.

Colonial Williamsburg is adding content to its Explore From Home website from the people who bring history to life. Resources include guides for teachers, quizzes and puzzles for students, interactive timeline, pages for exploring art collections, and printable coloring sheets from The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, as well as libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world.

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond will be offering free online video content, webinars, student learning resources, and virtual tours at VirginiaHistory.org/AtHome.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle has a virtual tour and numerous distance learning opportunities. The rich, interactive virtual environment will serve as the gateway for Marines and visitors to see the museum from the comfort of their homes. The museum’s online distance learning programs engage audiences with the history of the United States Marine Corps.  Programs include a plethora of virtual learning experiences and subject matter for people to learn important and interesting topics related to the Marine Corps. Take the virtual tour at virtualusmcmuseum.com and access the distance learning programs at usmcmuseum.com/distance-learning.html.

The Chrysler Museum of Art located in Norfolk’s NEON Arts District features 50 galleries, 30,000 objects, and a world-renowned glass collection. Viewers can take a virtual tour through the galleries as well as explore the museum’s Digital Collections featuring European and American paintings, sculptures and decorative arts and works from African, ancient Egyptian, Pre-Columbian, Islamic and Asian cultures.

Join the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk for a Virtual Voyage every day at 2 p.m. (March 16 – 30, 2020) on its Facebook page. Visitors can go behind the scenes, tour the zoo, and check in on their favorite animals. The zoo’s Virtual Voyage website also offers augmented reality tours, printable activity sheets, a YouTube video series, and more.

Take a virtual walking tour of historic Fincastle in Botetourt County with over 50 individual “stops,” each complete with a picture and background about the location.

The Kids Square Children’s Museum in Roanoke will go live on Facebook at least once a day during the week until reopening. They’ll be doing everything from science experiments to book reading. Visitors joining the livestream have the chance to win one of the items that Kids Square is playing with that day.

The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum in Ferrum offers the following online exhibits for individuals to learn more about folk heritage in the Blue Ridge region.

  • Full Throttle: Racing and Rodding in Southwest and Central Virginia
  • Moonshine: Blue Ridge Style
  • Deathly Lyrics: Songs of Virginia Tragedies
  • Earthenware Along the Great Road in Virginia and Tennessee

The Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke has images and background information on nearly every item in the rail, road, air, and ship collections. Collections are separated by category and can be accessed here.

The William King Museum of Art in Abingdon will be broadcasting live via Facebook every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. Videos will include tours of the galleries, insider looks at collections, family-friendly art projects, and live art demos.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond is sharing  “Virtual Visits” on its Facebook page as well as putting resources for learning (including activities for kids) and ideas for relaxation and mental health on its website lewisginter.org.

Take a virtual tour around Virginia Beach’s cultural enclave by using this Google Mural Map to explore the ViBe Creative District on a virtual, self-guided mural tour. Click on the map icons to find information about the artists, artworks and locations, along with multiple images of the artwork and video links of murals created during the last two years of the ViBe Mural Festival.

The Barter Theatre in Abingdon is working to offer its patrons the ability to stream productions from home. The production of “Peter Pan” that was originally scheduled to open on April 7 will be online to patrons as well as access special bonus features. The theatre will also be providing coordinating educator resources, including lesson plans and a study guide. More information can be found here: bartertheatre.com/barter-theatre-on-demand

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach will provide entertaining, educational content to fans including live streams, video footage, crafts for kids, and behind the scenes peeks on its website and social media channels.

The City of Alexandria created a new web hub called ALX at Home, which brings residents and nearby visitors their favorite Alexandria restaurants, shops and attractions to the comfort of their own home. Features include:

  • 50+ restaurant and 15 retail deals and offerings
  • Attraction offerings such as virtual tours and a “Ride it Out” bike rental program from Unlimited Biking.
  • Cocktail Corner for Happy Hour at home with instructional videos from The Hour boutique.
  • Puppy Love, bringing a daily dose of cuteness from Alexandria’s four-legged friends.

The Omni Homestead ResortThe Omni Homestead Resort’s podcast, Beyond the Tower offers an insider’s look into one of America’s most iconic resorts. From historical anecdotes to one-of-a-kind experiences, Beyond the Tower includes topics from the history of the resort and golf to the Garth Newel Music Center and the resort’s partnership with a local farmer. Each episode begins and ends with “Welcome to My Homestead,” an original composition from David Hill, a native of Roanoke, Virginia and one of the resort’s most popular musicians.

For those interested in historic moments of Virginia, listen to the Following Harriet podcast. Following Harriet takes a closer look at the life of one of the bravest and most extraordinary women in our country’s history. It also puts Harriet in a broader context, examining the 19th Century experience of African Americans, especially in Virginia.

Do you know of any other online options that attractions are providing? Let us know in the comments below.

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