114-122 South Seventeenth Street
Another piece of the Davenport empire.
Davenport & Morris, wholesale grocers, importers and commission merchants, at Seventeenth and Dock streets, lead all others here of their line, in capital and resources, variety and amount of stock carried and grand aggregate of sales. In 1891 their trade was upwards of $1,500,000. They cover all the States of the South east of the Mississippi river, and have ten men on the road in that field.
They occupy here six large warehouses, their own property, adjacent to the docks and with Richmond and Danville side-track, in which they usually have on hand a $200,000 stock. They have 30 employes here.
They make a specialty of the trade in tobacco manufacturers’ supplies and of the importation direct of coffee and liquors. They are, in fact, the largest importers here.
Four partners hold interests in this house: Isaac Davenport, Jr., who, however, after a a long and busy life as merchant and banker, has practically retired; Junius A. Morris, virtually the head of the house, as senior now in its management; Isaac Davenport and Frank A. Davenport, sons of the late G. B. Davenport, formerly a partner in the house.
Mr. Isaac Davenport, Jr., is also of Davenport & Co., bankers and insurance men, and agents for the Liverpool and London and Globe Company. He is one of the wealthiest residents of the city, and is interested in many of the most important enterprises here.
Mr. Morris is president of the Union Brokerage Company, a director of the First National Bank, the Albemarle Paper Company, manufacturers of blotting paper here, and the Southern Manufacturing Company, coffee roasters and spice grinders and manufacturers of baking powders. Mr. Frank A. Davenport is also a director of the Southern Manufacturing Company, and the Albemarle Paper Company, and is vice-president of the former.
The house is the oldest of any note here. It was established in 1815 by Davenport & Allen. The Davenport of that firm was grandfather to the junior members of to-day. It has membership in the Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. Morris is one of its Committee on Banking and Currency, a selection indicative, surely, of a considerable degree of attain. [RVCJ93]
The real question, of course, is whether or not the buildings that stand there today are part of the original warehouse structure. Without a lot more substantial evidence, the answer is no.
Of course, City of Richmond says that this structure was built in 1905, and that means it could be older because you know CoR property searches don’t always yield an accurate construction date.
But that’s an easy notion to dispense with. Compare what’s there today, the two-story Canal Club that extends from Dock to Cary, with the top photo with the ship at the dock. The building in that engraving is four stories and has a clearly marked entrance on the Seventeenth Street side. The current building bears no scars of an entrance that has been sealed up, as you see on many other old buildings in Shockoe Bottom.
Of course, the building might have been remodeled and lost a couple of floors. But if it did, it was completely retooled, and anything incorporated from the original structures was lost. Close inspection of the Sanborn, Beers, and Baist maps above clearly show that the warehouse buildings covered a little over half of the Seventeenth Street frontage, making room for an alley and a factory building to squeeze in. The Canal Club, on the other hand, consumes the entire eastern portion of the block.
Ultimately, however, Davenport & Morris was only one cog in the respective business interests of these two men, so the demise of the grocery business by 1905 meant little. As mentioned above, they also speculated on tobacco, Davenport ran an investment firm (now the oldest in the city), and Morris would eventually branch out into ice cream and confections.
(Davenport & Morris is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
- [RVCJ03] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1903.
- [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.
Op-ed proposes the removal of “forgotten” A.P. Hill monument at Laburnum and Hermitage
“With so many battles raging, it is curious that one Confederate general and the monument dedicated to him remain relatively forgotten on the sideline, standing at an intersection not far from Monument Avenue and its pantheon of controversial figures,” the op-ed says.
From Style Weekly:
Linwood Holton Elementary School, at Hermitage Road and Laburnum Avenue, is named for one of our own 20th century civil rights heroes, who as governor of Virginia championed racial equality. The children who attend the school learn that they are a big part of Linwood Holton’s legacy.
Those same children who attend the school might very well wonder, though, “Who is that man whose statue is standing out there in the middle of the intersection?”
That would be A.P. Hill: the forgotten Confederate general and his monument.
Battles are being fought over Confederate monuments, here in Richmond on Monument Avenue of course, and at so many other sites around the country. Calls for memory and heritage clash with cries for truth and reconciliation. Words take on their own meaning and people take sides, with the monuments in the middle.
RVA Legends — Manly B. Ramos & Co.
A look into the history of Richmond places that are no longer part of our landscape.
903 East Main Street
Purveyor of instruments and music publisher.
A firm controlled by musicians, who, having taught music, appreciate the wants of Music Teachers and the public. Three of their salesmen being organists of ability, they make selections of music to advantage and satistion. If a person’s trade amounts to only $1.00 a year, they are just as anxious to serve him as if he bought $500 worth.
They are Virginians. Twelve years’ experience in the musical business, and a desire to satisfy in every particular, is the foundation of their success. They are located in warerooms double the size of any similar establishment in the South, holding, besides their sheet music and small instruments, the agencies for the renowned Knabe, Emerson and Behring Pianos, and also the Packard, and Dyer, and Hughes Organs.
The business methods of this widely known house, are conducted on such a high plane that every customer becomes a friend. It would be well to get their catalogue, which is sent free of charge. [IOR]
It is a true buzzkill that Rocket Werks was unable to find a recording of the Staunton Grand March, so we can only imagine what dulcet tones of martial splendor we’re missing out on. Although if any brave soul in the audience knows how to play the piano and wants to take a crack at it, Duke University Libraries has the complete sheet music just waiting for you. It would make you like a history musicologist or something.
Construction of the Mutual Building, first of Richmond’s early high-rises, in 1924, posed problems for Manly B. Ramos & Co.’s 903 East Main location. That building was razed and Ramos had to skedaddle, moving just up the street to 721.
(Manly B. Ramos is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
Must-See RVA! — Norman Stewart House
A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.
AKA, Stewart-Lee House
707 East Franklin Street
The General’s pad. You know… him.
In early time the whole square bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Franklin, and Main Streets was occupied by the home of Archibald Blair, Secretary of the Council of State. The garden was adorned with trees and shrubbery and a pond, fed by a spring. After Blair’s death the property was divided into lots, most of those on Franklin Street being sold to Norman Stewart who erected five brick houses there, known as Stewart’s Row.
Norman Stewart, first of that family to emigrate from Rothesay in Scotland to Virginia, had come out before 1806 and engaged in the business of buying and selling leaf tobacco. His nephews John and Daniel Stewart later joined him in Richmond. Norman Stewart remained a bachelor and lived in this house after building it in 1844, renting the others in the row.
His great-nephew gives an amusing picture of the younger members of the family stopping after service at St. Paul’s, before the long drive to “Brook Hill,” to have a glass of sherry and some stale sponge-cake with their uncle; of the latter’s vanity in concealing his red hair under a brown wig; and of his true Scotch thrift in having his servant unravel his old stockings to darn his new ones!
At his death in 1856 Norman Stewart left this house to his nephew John. During the Civil War Mr. Stewart rented it to General Custis Lee and some brother-officers, and in 1864-65 Lee’s mother and sisters occupied it, so that it was General Robert E. Lee’s home during his brief stays in Richmond. Mrs. Chesnut describes the life there at this time:
Then we paid our respects to Mrs. Lee. Her room is like an industrial school: everybody so busy. Her daughters were all there plying their needles, with several other ladies. When we came out someone said, “Did you see how the Lees spend their time? What a rebuke to the taffy parties.”
After the Surrender, Lee rode to Richmond on Traveller. His son Robert writes:
On April 15th he arrived in Richmond. The people there soon recognized him; men, women and children crowded around him cheering and waving hats and handkerchiefs. It was more like the welcome to a conqueror than to a despised prisoner on parole. He raised his hat in response to their greetings and rode quietly to his home on Franklin Street, where my mother and sisters were anxiously awaiting him.
But General Lee found life in Richmond with the constant stream of callers too exhausting and in the latter part of June, 1865 moved his family to the country. Thence they moved to Lexington, after his call to be president of Washington College. His actual residence in the Stewart house was thus slightly over two months. When he tried to pay Mr. John Stewart rent, the latter wrote him that “the payment must be in Confederate currency, for which alone it was rented to your son.”
Later, the house was rented to judge Anthony M. Keiley, who lived there while he was Mayor of Richmond, 1871-76. Judge Keiley figured in an international incident, the Italian government indicating that he was persona non grata, when he was named ambassador, because he had taken a prominent part in a meeting of Richmond Roman Catholics who had protested the Pope’s being deprived of his temporal power.
In 1879 the Westmoreland Club, which had been founded two years earlier, occupied the Stewart house. During the ’eighties it was the home of William O. English and Robert N. Gordon. Mr. English had married Miss Jessie Gordon, head of one of the many well-known schools for girls.
The school had been in existence since 1855 and during the ’eighties occupied this house. The Stewart family continued, evidently, to feel as John Stewart had when he wrote General Lee, refusing to accept rent: You do not know how much gratification it is, and will afford me and my whole family during the remainder of our lives, to reflect that we have been brought into contact, and to know and to appreciate you and all that are dear to you.
In 1893 Mrs. Stewart and her daughters gave the house, forever associated with General Lee’s brief stay in Richmond, to the Virginia Historical Society, to be the headquarters of that organization. Although the interest of the house is largely its connection with the Lees and with the Stewart family, which has meant much to Richmond, it is worth study architecturally as a good example of a Greek Revival house of the three-story, “shoe-box” type.
Among dozens of houses of this plan, many of them still standing, this is the only one in excellent condition or likely to he preserved. That it is good of its sort is evident from a comparison with the Maury house, for example. One can easily see that the Stewart-Lee house is far better proportioned and much more pleasing in detail.
The handsome iron fence with pineapple posts is identical, except for the gate, with that of the Barret house, built in the same year. Unfortunately the appearance of the house is greatly injured at present by a large gasoline advertisement which masks the doorway when it is approached from the east. [HOR]
Renovated in 2001 by the Home Builders Association of Virginia, it served as their offices for a while, but they have since relocated to 1051 East Cary, and the building is available for lease.
General Lee cribbed here and there’s no escaping it. On the one hand, that’s great. This sole remaining structure of the original Stewart’s Row survives because he lived here, and you would have few other references to indicate that this portion of Franklin Street was once a residential neighborhood. And… yeh, he was extraordinarily skillful and a key figure in one of the defining moments of the nation’s history.
But it was him and the Confederacy and Jim Crow and all the other muck that comes with the stain of the Confederate cause. Preserve it? Absolutely. Forget? Not a chance.
(Norman Stewart House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)
- [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.
- [IEAHS] Inventory of Early Architecture and Historic Sites. Jeffrey Marshall O’Dell. 1976.
- [MCR] Map of the City of Richmond, Virginia, 1861-65. Richmond Civil War Centennial Committee. 1961.
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