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Must-See RVA! — North Court

North Court has a long interesting history and previously was part of Westhampton College

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December 2019

40 Westhampton Way
Built, 1911
Architect, Ralph Adams Cram
VDHR 127-0364-0003

The dorm with the mysterious “Rat Hole”

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — Richmond College, original campus

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — Richmond College, original campus

The University of Richmond’s roots extend back to the mid-nineteenth century and the establishment of Richmond College, an all-male institution. During the early twentieth century, as Richmond College expanded and prepared to relocate to a new campus, college officials began considering the creation of a women’s college. The new campus was located in suburban Richmond and its name, Westhampton, was derived from a nearby real estate development.

(Rarely Seen Richmond) — Westhampton College

(Rarely Seen Richmond) — Westhampton College

In 1914, the women’s college took the same name. Richmond College and Westhampton College combined to become the University of Richmond in 1920. Originally, Westhampton College was housed entirely in the building now known as North Court. The building included dormitory, classroom, administrative, and dining facilities.

December 2019

December 2019

Higher education opportunities for women at the University of Richmond extend back to the late nineteenth century. Almost immediately after being appointed Richmond College president in 1895, Frederic W. Boatwright advocated expanding the school to include women students. He had witnessed the level of inequality between men’s and women’s higher education in his time as a professor at the Woman’s College, a junior college in Richmond, and publicly supported quality education for women throughout his career. Boatwright allowed non-matriculating female students to attend classes at Richmond College during the late 1890s and urged the Board of Trustees to allow women to pursue degrees. The Board of Trustees hesitated, as many people found higher education for women to be controversial.

(Boatwright Genealogy) — Frederic W. Boatwright

(Boatwright Genealogy) — Frederic W. Boatwright

Boatwright, however, was not alone in his opinion of the value of women’s education. In 1903, the Baptist General Association of Virginia adopted a resolution instructing the newly created Baptist Education Commission to begin planning for the establishment of a women’s college. In 1904, the Education Commission conducted a campaign for $250,000 which the Commission would use to establish a college for women and give financial relief to existing Baptist schools. Many schools put in offers, including Rawlings Institute in Charlottesville and Bristol’s campus of Southwest Virginia Institute, but Richmond College’s proposal was the one selected by the Education Commission in 1906.

(Brewminate) — Gothic revival at Yale University

(Brewminate) — Gothic revival at Yale University

With the addition of a women’s college, Boatwright saw an opportunity both to expand women’s education and to enhance Richmond College. During planning for the new campus at Westhampton, Boatwright traveled through the Midwest looking for a model college that educated both men and women. In the process, he was exposed to the Gothic Revival architectural style, which would later be adopted for the Westhampton campus.

(Wikimedia Commons) — Adelbert College, Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio — postcard, 1918

(Wikimedia Commons) — Adelbert College, Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio — postcard, 1918

Gothic Revival style (also referred to as Collegiate Gothic) had its roots in British schools such as Oxford and Cambridge. Of the many colleges Boatwright visited, he favored the suburban campus of Western Reserve University, now Case Western University, in Cleveland, Ohio. He found that the women’s and men’s colleges shared several buildings, such as the library, auditorium, and science laboratories, but each also retained its own buildings and identity as a separate college. In addition to the coeducational campus organization, Boatwright may have been attracted to the Gothic style architecture of the women’s college, which was housed in a large, multi-purpose Gothic building.

(Traditional Building) — Ralph Adams Cram

(Traditional Building) — Ralph Adams Cram

Boatwright and the Board of Trustees enlisted prominent architect Ralph Adams Cram of the Boston and New York-based firm Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson to design the Westhampton campus. After his conversion to Anglo-Catholicism in 1887, Cram asserted that the Gothic style, and its inherent moral truths, had been lost and needed restoring. The Collegiate Gothic style allowed him to correlate the architecture and values of the medieval past to the campus architecture of the twentieth century. Using the Gothic style in his campus designs also allowed Cram to create a unified aesthetic for a collection of buildings that differed in use.

December 2019

December 2019

Groundbreaking for the women’s college and Richmond College began in July 1911, and construction of the main building was completed in the summer of 1913. The two schools were separated by Westhampton Lake, which continues to be a prominent landscape feature. The name Westhampton College officially was adopted on March 8, 1914. North Court was constructed in accordance with the architect’s specifications, which included handmade dark red brick with blue, gold, and black tile inlays and the finest quality marble and slate. Substantially constructed with a framework of steel set in concrete, the building boasted floors built of reinforced concrete.

December 2019 — Clinton Webb Arts Tower

December 2019 — Clinton Webb Arts Tower

The Tower stood as the dividing line between the residential and academic wings. In the residential wing, the “Blue Room” corridor was the location of reception rooms, rooms for college organizations, and the offices of the Dean of Westhampton College. The dormitory section included the structure around the court, which was turfed with sod removed from the campus. The dining hall and kitchen were in the wing across from the arch. The dining room was English style with vaulted ceilings of dark wood. The balcony which overlooked the dining room was used as a passage for the kitchen workers, who were housed upstairs in what later became known as the “Rat Hole.” The third floors were left unfinished.

December 2019

December 2019

Although the intent for a complete campus was demonstrated in Cram’s plans, the building campaign was plagued by lack of funds and resulted in a scaled-down 1914 plan with many buildings reduced in size or eliminated completely. Cram’s seven original buildings at the Westhampton campus nevertheless came to define Collegiate Gothic as a style for the campus architecture as a whole. North Court, completed in the summer of 1913, was the closest approximation of Cram’s monastic cloister ideal. The wings of the building formed a partially enclosed cloister around an English courtyard.

December 2019

December 2019

On opening in the fall of 1914, Westhampton College enrolled 82 women: 38 residential and 44 commuting. The building was designed to accommodate 135 students, meaning that enough residential space was available in the college for a number of faculty members to live there as well. The presence of faculty members living in the dormitory helped establish the friendly relationship between students and faculty, an important part of life at Westhampton College. The women’s student body increased steadily, however, and more space soon was needed. The third floor of the building was finished as dormitory rooms, and dormer windows were added.

December 2019

December 2019

Women’s sports arrived in 1916 at Westhampton College under the supervision of Dean Mary L. Keller and Fanny G. Crenshaw. Initially, the Tower in North Court was used by students for indoor exercises, although some students claimed they got all the exercise they needed by racing to catch the “old black bus,” a cart drawn by two mules that transported Westhampton College students to the Number 9 streetcar that brought students downtown. No gym was planned for the women. Keller and Crenshaw, after surveying likely spots, decided that the top Tower room would do for calisthenics. When that proved less than satisfactory, the following year they used the barn below the power house.

(The Shockoe Examiner) — General Hospital #2, circa 1918

(The Shockoe Examiner) — General Hospital #2, circa 1918

The United States entered World War I in 1917. The following June, the federal government leased the entire Westhampton campus for use as an evacuation hospital for 13 months. Wounded soldiers who had been transported from France by ship to the naval facility at Norfolk were then sent by train to Richmond. North Court was designated General Hospital #2. Cots lined every room and hallway. Other rooms were used as diet kitchens, store rooms and offices. The parlors and reading rooms were turned into wards. The chapel and old Latin classroom became operating rooms. The dining room and kitchen retained their purposes.

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — St. Luke’s Hospital

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — St. Luke’s Hospital

Meanwhile, during the 1918-1919 academic year, Westhampton College’s operations returned to Richmond College’s old campus within the City of Richmond. Students were housed in rented quarters in St. Luke’s Hospital at Harrison and Grace Streets and in residences on Franklin Street and Monumental Avenue. Their classes were held at the campus on Broad and Lombardy streets. Richmond College and Westhampton College returned to the Westhampton campus for the opening of the academic year in the fall of 1919.

December 2019

December 2019

In 1920, after an amendment to the charter, the name “University of Richmond” was extended to cover Westhampton College, Richmond College, and the affiliated T.C. Williams School of Law.

The men’s and women’s colleges were not fully integrated, however, for a number of years. For example, the library in Ryland Hall on the men’s campus could be used by first and second year Westhampton College students, but only at certain hours. Thus, a reading room was established in North Court.

December 2019

December 2019

At first, the reading room was located in the office of the Dean’s secretary, but by the second year, more space was needed, and it was moved to the third floor of the Tower. Elizabeth Gaines, a 1919 graduate of Westhampton College, was appointed the reading room’s first librarian. Along with academics, Westhampton College students maintained academic, social, and service organizations separately from those at Richmond College.

December 2019

December 2019

During the 1930s with the onset of the Great Depression, the student enrollment dropped at Westhampton College. High prices caused students to transition to enrolling as day students. Lowered residential enrollment meant less money for the school to accommodate its students. Funds for student programs and publications also became scarce. The University of Richmond was, however, able to proceed with several construction projects for which funds already were in place, including a third science laboratory building and a gymnasium. Enrollment at Westhampton and Richmond Colleges began to rebound by the late 1930s.

(T. K. Davis Construction) — South Court under renovation, 2018

(T. K. Davis Construction) — South Court under renovation, 2018

Improved economic circumstances meant enrollment at Westhampton College almost doubled during the war years, and plans for construction of a new women’s dormitory were announced in December 1944. Located south of the original Westhampton College building, this new facility was named South Court upon its completion in 1948.

(VDHR) — 2012 historic registry nomination photo

(VDHR) — 2012 historic registry nomination photo

At that time, the original building assumed its present name, North Court. North Court continued to house many of Westhampton College’s functions, including dormitories, classrooms, offices, a dining hall, and a refectory. Academics at Westhampton College subsequently evolved in keeping with rapidly changing educational trends in the nation at large.

(University of Richmond Magazine) — North Court dining hall, circa 1961

(University of Richmond Magazine) — North Court dining hall, circa 1961

Use of spaces within North Court changed with the times as well. The women’s dining hall remained in use until the early 1980s, when a new central dining hall was constructed that brought together male and female students together for all their daily meals. The former dining hall in North Court continues to be used for special gatherings. Meanwhile, the space that had been the women’s chapel when the building was completed in 1914, and then served as a refectory starting in 1919, was converted into a recital hall, a use that continues today. (VDHR)

December 2019

December 2019

A handsome building on a campus filled with them, and a worthy addition to the Richmond historic registry.

On a somewhat related note, Selden Richardson of The Shockoe Examiner wrote a fascinating piece on Dr. Wilmer Amos Hadley in 2017, a surgeon and anesthesiologist at General Hospital #2. It covers one of Richmond’s more sordid tales, the murderous Dr. Hadley’s drowning of his wife Sue, and subsequent trip to the electric chair. Morbid, sad, and well worth reading.

(North Court is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


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Friday Cheers May Update

Venture Richmond Events staff is working to reschedule Friday Cheers’ early June artist performances, and remain cautiously optimistic about performances later in June.

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Friday Cheers fans are devoted and unwavering, but in these times we must all be mindful that the COVID-19 virus has dramatically changed our daily social interactions and we must all follow the directives of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home executive order through June 10.

The governor’s order prohibits all public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals.

With these guidelines, and for the safety of both our patrons and staff, we have made the following changes to the May Friday Cheers schedule:

  • Jade Bird with Sweet Potatoes that was previously scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2020 is cancelled.
  • Billy Strings with Andrew Alli and Josh Small is rescheduled for Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
  • RVA Music Night – Palm Palm is rescheduled for Friday, May 21, 2021.
  • Jay Som with Angelica Garcia – We are working to reschedule this show for Friday Cheers 2021 and will provide details when finalized.

Venture Richmond Events staff is working to reschedule Friday Cheers’ early June artist performances, and remain cautiously optimistic about performances later in June.

2020 Friday Cheers Season Pass holders can still use their pass for the remaining June Friday Cheers events and for the rescheduled Billy Strings event on August 26, 2020.

In addition, as a thank you for your understanding during this difficult time, 2020 Season Pass holders will receive a 50% discount off a 2021 Friday Cheers Season Pass! TicketsToBuy.com will email current Season Pass holders with information about the discount which can be used when purchasing a 2021 Season Pass.

Those who have purchased a ticket online for any one of these May events may request a refund by emailing [email protected]com beginning Friday, April 3, 2020.

Venture Richmond Events, LLC and its staff work to produce an excellent experience for you on Brown’s Island, but we take the safety and health of our guests, staff, and community very seriously, and appreciate your continued support moving forward.

At this time, all other events produced by Venture Richmond Events, LLC, including the June Friday Cheers events, remain scheduled as planned, but are subject to change. Again, thank you for your continued support of Friday Cheers.

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A spirited solution: GRTC sources sanitizer from Reservoir Distillery

GRTC contacted Reservoir Distillery last week to place a recurring bulk order for their newly produced sanitizer. Just as sanitizer dispensers at GRTC’s headquarters emptied, reinforcements arrived today from Reservoir Distillery, normally a bourbon whiskey producer in Scott’s Addition.

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Normally barrels and buses are buddies as a safe solution for patrons traveling after imbibing. Today there’s a new spirited solution. As hand sanitizer supplies quickly back-ordered during the COVID-19 crisis, GRTC needed to find a supplier quickly to refill dwindling inventory for essential employees. A Richmond Times-Dispatch news story about local businesses shifting production from spirits to sanitizer sparked a solution.

GRTC contacted Reservoir Distillery last week to place a recurring bulk order for their newly produced sanitizer. Just as sanitizer dispensers at GRTC’s headquarters emptied, reinforcements arrived today from Reservoir Distillery, normally a bourbon whiskey producer in Scott’s Addition.

“Creative solutions like this are exciting, said GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm. “Our essential employees need sanitizer at headquarters and in the field, and a local business benefits from our need. This is a win-win solution for both of us and I am proud of our Procurement Department’s ingenuity.”

“We are happy to be able to support GRTC during this unprecedented time,” says Dave Cuttino, co-founder of Reservoir Distillery. “Reservoir will continue to make hand sanitizer as long as resources are available and the need is there within our community.”

More than 100 gallons of liquid sanitizer were picked up Monday from Reservoir Distillery, helping GRTC staff reporting to headquarters maintain proper personal hygiene practices. Operators and other frontline staff can refill personal bottles to use in the field.

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University of Richmond donates thousands of safety gloves from science labs to local healthcare workers

Faculty gathered up nearly 7,000 pairs of gloves to donate to local healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic where supplies are running low.

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As classes moved to remote learning at the University of Richmond, science laboratories across campus are vacant and the safety gear in them is not being used. This prompted UR chemistry and biology professors, in collaboration with administrators, to donate boxes of safety gloves to the Central Virginia Incident Management Team to be delivered to healthcare providers across the state most in need of supplies.

Faculty gathered up nearly 7,000 pairs of gloves to donate to local healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic where supplies are running low.

The idea began with, and is spearheaded by, chemistry professor Mike Leopold, who recognized that healthcare workers were in need of additional personal protective equipment, including gloves.

“I realized that in the transition to remote learning, we would have a number of boxes of gloves sitting around in our labs for months,” said Leopold. “I thought why not make great use of them now and help keep those on the front lines fighting this pandemic safe.”

Leopold initially took the supply from his own research lab to an ER nurse he knows because she had indicated to him they were running low. Leopold realized the broader opportunity and after consulting with the administration at UR about donating more of this specific item, reached out to others.

The gesture spurred additional UR faculty to investigate their own supplies and has prompted healthcare workers to talk with other universities about this possible option.

“As I expected, the response from my colleagues was amazing and we are delighted to help assist in this small way. We hope it encourages others,” Leopold said.

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