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RVA Legends — James Dunlop House

A look into the history of Richmond places that are no longer a part of our landscape.

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[HOR]

101 North Fifth Street
Built, 1844
Demolished, 1928

The house that turned into a hotel.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1895) — Plate 14

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1895) — Plate 14

On January 20, 1844 James Dunlop bought the half-acre lot, number 568, the price of $8000 proving how popular Fifth Street was at that time. This site had the further attraction of being considered the highest elevation in the city, Thomas P. Watkins, the surveyor, having built himself a small frame house there when he ascertained its unique advantage. That house was immediately demolished by Mr. Dunlop, and the mansion was built within the year.

(Find A Grave) — James Dunlop

(Find A Grave) — James Dunlop

James Dunlop (who was born in Richmond in 1801) spent the rest of his life in the house he had built. He had married Ann Dent McRae, daughter of Alexander McRae and it was in this house that the widow of Alexander McRae died. Dunlop was a partner in the ante-bellum firm of Dunlop, Moncure & Co., auctioneers and commission merchants, which was located at the northwest corner of Cary and Eleventh Streets.

(Virginia Places) — showing Dunlop & McCance’s Mills in Manchester

(Virginia Places) — showing Dunlop & McCance’s Mills in Manchester

After the War this firm became Dunlop & McCance and devoted itself exclusively to milling. One of the founders of St. Paul’s Church, Mr. Dunlop was a member of the vestry from 1844 until his death in 1875, at which time he was treasurer. Passing resolutions on his loss, the members of the vestry described him as “the gentle, genial, generous friend.”

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — Reverend John D. Blair, AKA Parson Blair

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — Reverend John D. Blair, AKA Parson Blair

Mrs. Dunlop continued to live there until her death, following which it was the home for about five years of James Alfred Jones. W. Brydon Tennant owned it for a similar period, and in 1899 it was sold to Walter Blair, a grandson of Parson Blair. Mr. Blair lived there until his death, and his daughter, Miss Ellen Blair, continued to make it her home.

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — Hotel John Marshall

(Rocket Werks RVA Postcards) — Hotel John Marshall

She sold it in 1928, and it was demolished in that year to be the site of the John Marshall Hotel.

The Dunlop house, built at the same time as the Barret house and in the main very similar to it, had several marked differences. The front porch was heavier and there were no triple windows. The chimneys were placed toward the centre of the house instead of on the outer wall, a much less awkward plan.

[HOR] — showing the portico on the garden

[HOR] — showing the portico on the garden

The chief feature of the Dunlop house was the magnificent portico in the rear, with its great columns instead of the modest square pillars of the Barret house. Although the porch had two floors, the upper one was somewhat masked so that the effect was more like the Van Lew and Hayes-McCance houses than like those being built in the years just before the Dunlop house.

January 2020 — looking towards former 101 North Fifth Street, now The Residences at The John Marshall

January 2020 — looking towards former 101 North Fifth Street, now The Residences at The John Marshall

The portico of the Nolting house is evidently copied from this one. The Dunlop house was beautifully kept up, to the very end, and the pearl-grey stucco and white trim, the secluded garden surrounded by its high brick wall, and the tall portico made it a place of romance and beauty. [HOR]

(James Dunlop House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Note

  • A special shout-out goes to Ray Bonis of The Shockoe Examiner and VCU’s James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections & Archives fame. Ray hipped Rocket Werks to the fact that the Library of Congress had recently added digital copies of both the 1886 and 1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Richmond, in addition to their well-known 1905 edition. Not only are these maps a gold mine for the researcher, used here for the first time, they are also gorgeous to behold. If looking at antiquated municipal street maps is your thing. It’s… not for everybody. Okay, move along!

Print Sources

  • [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.

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Tour de Fall Line Donation Based this Year

The RVAMore website isn’t up to date with the new race information yet but I’m sure will be available soon.

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RVA More’s Tour de Fall Line is back but a little different this year. All proceeds directly benefit rvaMORE to help enhance your outdoor experience on our local trails.

The entry fee is WAIVED.

Our only request is that you stop by the rvaMORE tent, say hello and drop 20 bucks into the trail fund wheelbarrow.

This event has been our premier fundraiser for a number of years; but without the aid stations, food, music, and beverages, we
elected to go with optional donations rather than an entry fee.

What to expect: You can choose to ride whatever distance you want and start at any point along the route. As always, GPS maps will be available for download.

The full course will be marked by volunteers. There will be no aid stations.

This is a ride of fun and self-sufficiency – the DNA of MTB riding.

Bring your friends or enjoy a solo soul ride for the day.

We’ll be hanging out all day.

We sincerely hope you can join us for a day of celebrating our city trail system!

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Westover Hills Boulevard Death Investigation

There was a fatal shooting in the 400 block of Westover Hills Boulevard on Sunday.

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RPD reporting the following:

At approximately 9:53 p.m. (Sunday, October 24th), Richmond Police responded to the 400 block of Westover Hills Boulevard for the report of a shooting. Officers arrived and located an adult male with an apparent gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.

Anyone with information about this death investigation is asked to call Major Crimes Detective A. Coates at (804) 646-0729 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

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48 Hrs Store Now Has Zero Hours

Sometime over the weekend the local convenience store closed for good.

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The plan dear readers were to swing by this weekend and ask what was up after reading various rumors about the fate of the little store that many folks have a love/hate relationship with. My timing was poor because I was greeted by the scene above. A quick check of the property records doesn’t list a recent change and there aren’t any permits on the door indicating work. The planned work on the adjacent strip of stores doesn’t include the 48 Hrs Store.

So let’s go straight to the rumors.

The most credible from two second-hand sources is that the store will reopen under new management.

Someone has also floated a vape shop moving in.

The store was never pretty but the owners, when they were in town, were super nice. It was for many years our go-to spot for beer and chips. That was about all we bought there, beer and chips.

We’ll keep an eye out and update if we get anything beyond a rumor.

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