Connect with us

Community

Must-See RVA! — Bellgrade Plantation

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

Avatar

Published

on

February 2020
  • AKA Belvidere, Bellgrade, Alandale, Allandale, Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • 11500 West Huguenot Road
  • Built, 1732, 1824

The centerpiece of one of Chesterfield’s most notorious murders. PG-13!

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — 1978

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — 1978

Belgrade, known in the late nineteenth century as “Belvidere” and renamed “Alandale” in the early part of this century, features an unusual plan and a unique medley of roof types. Situated off Robious Road southwest of Bon Air, the house occupies a large open tract surrounded by rapidly expanding residential and commercial development.

February 2020

February 2020

Originally a one- or 1 ½-story hall-parlor house, Belgrade was expanded to its present form in 1824. In that year, Edward Cox conveyed the property to Edward O. Friend, and assessed buildings rose in value from $482 to $1,939. This increase reflects a complete transformation of the original dwelling from a hall-parlor structure to a large dwelling composed of a two-story, side-passage-plan main block flanked by matching 1-story one-room-plan wings.

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — 1978

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — 1978

The hipped gambrel roof covering each of the two wings is unusual, and Belgrade provides the latest recorded example in Virginia of this rare roof type. Another unusual feature is the apparently original 1-story lean-to at the west end of the building. The primary purpose of this eight-foot wide unit appears to have been to house a stair (similar in form and coeval to that in the main block) permitting separate interior and exterior access to the upper chamber of the south wing.

February 2020

February 2020

The present interior trim, varying only slightly among the various rooms on both floors, dates entirely to ca. 1824. The mantel in the main block consists of a simple architrave surround capped by a molded shelf with punch-and-dentil band. The mantels in each of the wings are nearly identical, featuring a raised-panel surround capped by a molded shelf. Upstairs mantels date from the same period, and feature plain architrave surrounds with simple molded shelves.

February 2020 — showing end of original construction at center-right, and the start of new construction at far-right

February 2020 — showing end of original construction at center-right, and the start of new construction at far-right

Two coeval staircases serve the house; both are of closed-string, straight-run form with rectangular balusters, square newel with molded cap, and molded rail. The stair in the main block is of unusual configuration: it divides at a narrow landing against the rear wall, where short flights lead respectively to chambers over the main block and north wing. The stair in the lean-to, which makes a turn about three-quarters of the way up, barely allows headroom at the upper landing.

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — 1978

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — 1978

Originally, matching dependencies flanked the house. A one-story, two-room-plan frame kitchen with center chimney stood seventy feet to the south of the house, while an office of similar form stood at an equal distance from the north end of the dwelling. Both were in a deteriorated state in the 1920s and were demolished. The only surviving early outbuilding is a frame gable-roofed smokehouse standing a few yards southwest of the house.

February 2020 — showing original construction at center, new construction at far left

February 2020 — showing original construction at center, new construction at far left

The earliest traced owner of the property was Edward Cox, who in 1824 sold the house and 515 acres to Edward O. Friend for $5,000. Friend, the son of Joseph Friend and grandson of Edward Friend (d. 1806), lived there until his death in 1838, when the property passed to his widow, Matilda E. Burfoot Friend. She remarried and sold the farm two years later to Anthony T. Robiou, who lived there until his death in 1851.

(Old Stocks) — Richmond and Danville Railroad Company 100 share stock certificate

(Old Stocks) — Richmond and Danville Railroad Company 100 share stock certificate

Robious Crossing, where the new Richmond and Danville Railroad line intersected Huguenot Road, was named for the then-current owner of the farm. Robiou is best remembered in Chesterfield County history, however, as the man whose murder precipitated one of the most publicized court trials in nineteenth century Virginia.

(Wikipedia) — Black Heath

(Wikipedia) — Black Heath

The episode began when Robiou filed a divorce suit against his young wife (who was only fourteen at the time of her wedding) charging her with infidelity. [CCO]

Apparently, it wasn’t a “maybe-she-is” situation. Robiou caught them mid-schtupp, still cracking the plaster, and took offense.

John S. Wormley, the girl’s father, along with John Reid, her allegedly adulterous suitor, waylaid Robiou on the road to Black Heath Pits (today’s Robious Road) and gunned him down. [CCO]

(Fineart America) — Infidelity, 18th Century art print by Granger

(Fineart America) — Infidelity, 18th Century art print by Granger

Imagine Robiou’s last moments contemplating the unfairness of it all. “My wife Emily cheats on me and I get whacked for complaining?” ‘Course the Wormley family was old and established, so it must have been a matter of honor perhaps for (rightfully) slandering the family name. At least he has a street named for him.

Both men were taken into custody shortly thereafter, and Wormley, a prosperous planter and lawyer, was found guilty at a trial held at Chesterfield Court House in October, 1851. A mistrial was later declared, however, on the grounds that the jurors had been treated to drinks beforehand by the deputy sheriff and county clerk. [CCO]

*hic… innnoshent, yer Honor…

(Executed Today) — scene of a 19th-century hanging

(Executed Today) — scene of a 19th-century hanging

Over a year later, a jury summoned from Richmond and Petersburg because of the local notoriety of the case sentenced Wormley to death. A week later, a crowd of 4,000 persons watched the 42-year-old man hanged at Chesterfield Courthouse. Reid, meanwhile, had been tried and acquitted, and before the hanging married the young widow whose husband he had been accused of murdering. [CCO]

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — Belgrade Foyer, 1978

(Chesterfield County Public Library) — Jeffrey O’Dell Research Papers Collection — Belgrade Foyer, 1978

Of course, this all ends happily. Two weeks after her father’s hanging, Mrs. Emily Reid took a tumble down the front steps and perished. Poetic justice.

There are two accounts of how she died. One account is that she fell on a sewing basket and scissors punctured her heart. The other account is that she broke her neck. Since this tragedy, there have been hundreds of stories of sightings of the ghosts of Robiou and his young bride roaming the boxwood gardens behind the home. (Ruth’s Chris)

(Library of Congress) — Map of Chesterfield County, Va. — J. E. LaPrade, 1888 — Belgrade identified as Belvidere, right at the intersection of Robious and the Richmond and Danville Railroad

(Library of Congress) — Map of Chesterfield County, Va. — J. E. LaPrade, 1888 — Belgrade identified as Belvidere, right at the intersection of Robious and the Richmond and Danville Railroad

In 1851, the year of the first trial, Randolph Ammonett purchased the property from the trustees of Robiou’s estate for $2,025. Ammonett lived at Belgrade until his death in 1889. In his will, he directed that “an iron railing about 10 feet square be erected around the graves of myself and my deceased wife, J. J. Ammonett.” This fence still stands in the back yard, although there are no inscribed stones to identify the graves of either Amonett or his wife. [CCO]

Since then the place has been called Belvidere, Alandale, Allandale, and Bellgrade, the nom-de-plume that Ruth’s Chris prefers. Jeff O’Dell calls it Belgrade, and who are we to argue with an architectural historian?

Mary Wingfield Scott would not have approved with Ruth’s Chris’s alterations, but the steak house did end up preserving the original structure, so even if it isn’t on the historic registry, the spirit of the plantation house was preserved.

(Belgrade is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [CCO] Chesterfield County, Early Architecture and Historic Sites Jeffrey M. O’Dell. 1983.

rocket_werks_must_see

Must-See RVA! is a regular series
appearing on rocket werks – check it out!

Comments

comments

Combining protean forces from the forbidden Zero Serum with the unbridled power of atomic fusion, to better probe the Wisdom of the Ancients and their Forgotten Culture.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Downtown

2nd Street Festival releases full schedule for virtual event October 3-4

Venture Richmond Events will present new musical performances, favorite artists from past festivals, cooking demonstrations, virtual tours, neighborhood remembrances, fun family activities, and so much more.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

The 2nd Street Festival marks its 32nd anniversary October 3-4 with a virtual event celebrating downtown’s Jackson Ward community. Venture Richmond Events will present new musical performances, favorite artists from past festivals, cooking demonstrations, virtual tours, neighborhood remembrances, fun family activities, and so much more.

Featured Festival Artists

Saturday, October 3 from 6:00 – 7:15 p.m.

Legacy Band – Don’t miss this new festival performance by one of Richmond’s favorite bands playing top hits with a mix of soul, R&B, funk and jazz. The band was originally formed by guitarist Jose Pomier and vocalist Kaila Valdez.

EU (Experience Unlimited) – A favorite past performance from the 2019 festival headliner. EU is one of the original Washington, DC Go-Go bands, fronted by founding member Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliott.

Sports Backers Fitness Warriors and D & G Line Dancing – Let’s get up and move with fun new dance workouts with our friends at Sports Backers and D&G Line Dancing. Learn along with great instructors!

Sunday, October 4 from 5:00 – 6:15 p.m.

Desirée Roots – Hear Desirée perform some of her new jazz favorites. As a theater and jazz sensation, she has been the opening act for several internationally acclaimed jazz music entertainers throughout her career. Her repertoire includes R&B and gospel.

Remembrance of Debo Dabney – Listen in as local musicians and friends including J. Plunky Branch, Glennroy Bailey, Desirée Roots, and more share their reflections of Herbert A. Dabney, III, a dynamic and animated pianist who passed away earlier this year. Affectionately known as “Debo,” he was a beloved friend of the festival and an all-around fan favorite. His repertoire ranged from jazz, gospel, R&B, swing, blues and children’s classics. Debo performed for 31 of the festival’s 32 years.

Virginia Union University Gospel Choir – Sing, clap or hum along with the university’s gospel choir as they perform two new selections. This choir recently performed on ABC’s Good Morning America with Latin musician Jose Feliciano.

Virtual Festival Activities

Cooking Demonstrations

Chefs from popular 2nd Street Festival vendors, Croaker’s Spot and Chef MaMusu of Africanne on Main, will both prepare and share dishes through culinary demonstrations live-streamed directly into homes to capture the same delicious foods that we’ve all come to expect from the 2nd Street Festival.

Kidz Zone Fun

Young viewers will enjoy story time with Candice Smith of NBC12 News and with the Children’s Museum, and a balloon twisting demonstration by festival favorite Eddie Cook with Balloons By Extreme.

Spotlight on Jackson Ward

Gary Flowers of Walking the Ward Tours visits two popular community sites, the Maggie L. Walker statue and Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church. Also, hear remembrances from longtime residents and business owners of Jackson Ward during the live stream event. 

Get 2nd Street Ready!
Show your support before, during and after the virtual festival.

Festival Marketplace

Visit Venture Richmond’s website for a full list of your favorite 2019 2nd Street Festival Marketplace vendors to shop online before, during and after the festival weekend! 

Official Festival Poster

Purchase an official 2020 2nd Street Festival poster designed by local quilter and artist, Unicia Buster. Learn more about the artist and her festival poster design. The new poster will be unveiled on September 23, watch on Facebook Live for your chance to win a signed print! Posters will be available for sale at Plan 9 Music in Carytown or at Plan 9 Online here starting on September 24.

Radio One “2nd Street MIX” Weekend

Get ready for the festival by listening to Radio One’s “2nd Street MIX” weekend on Saturday, September 26 from 1:00pm-10:00pm and Sunday, September 27 from 12:00pm-7:00pm. Enjoy a very special MIX weekend on 99.3/105.7 KISS FM featuring your favorite artists that have played at the 2nd Street Festival over the years and your favorite DJs too! The MIX lineup will feature DJ King Tutt, DJ Drake, and DJ Lonnie B. Listen for songs by Morris Day and the Time, Average White Band, SOS Band, and many other great R & B groups!

“Show us your 2nd Street Smile” Photo Contest

From September 28 to October 4, use the #2Street hashtag to “Show us your 2nd Street Smile” and win prizes! On Facebook and Instagram, post photos of where and how you plan to watch the virtual 2nd Street Festival. Are you watching with your best friend, your furry friends, or your family? Show us your 2nd Street smile! On October 5, we’ll choose 10 winners to win $50-$100 gift cards to your favorite spots in the Jackson Ward neighborhood! Don’t forget to label your photos with #2Street to be entered to win.

Historic Jackson Ward Neighborhood

Even though we can’t be together in Jackson Ward this year, be sure to shop the Jackson Ward businesses and restaurants and tour the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site on 2nd Street to show your support for downtown Richmond and the 2nd Street Festival. Don’t forget to wear your mask!

Ways to Watch This Year’s Virtual Festival

This year’s virtual festival is a great opportunity for families to plan gatherings and watch parties at home in a safe, fun and responsible way.

For up-to-date information, visit https://venturerichmond.com/our-events/2nd-street-festival-2020

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Downtown

City rolls out grant application for childcare and facilitated learning providers

Starting this week, neighborhood and community organizations from across Richmond can apply for a grant from the city to continue or expand capacity for emergency childcare and facilitated learning centers.

RVAHub Staff

Published

on

Starting this week, neighborhood and community organizations from across Richmond can apply for a grant from the city to continue or expand capacity for emergency childcare and facilitated learning centers.

On Wednesday, September 16th, Mayor Levar Stoney announced that he would reserve $1 million in CARES Act funding to support trusted providers from around the city. Providers will be able to use the funds to continue to provide care more safely or expand the number of slots available in their programs.

The application background information and materials are available on RVAStrong, here.

To prioritize the health and safety of children throughout the city, applicants are asked to provide various materials to ensure that programs have a plan to keep children safe and secure. This includes liability insurance, VDSS approval, and a COVID-19 policy and procedure manual, among other documentation.

“These neighborhood-based organizations are trusted voices in the community with a track record of caring for our kids,” said Mayor Stoney. “This funding should allow them to continue and expand that care now that working caregivers need it more than ever.”

“Our first priority is the safety and security of the children in care,” said Mayor Stoney. “It is incumbent on the city to provide safeguards to this effect.”

The application materials provide substantial guidance to support interested applicants in meeting the requirements. For example, detailed instructions on obtaining a VDSS exemption are included in the application.

Applicants may apply via secure Google form or through email.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Community

Suspect Sought in Manchester Larceny

Between 7 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. on September 2, 2020, the suspect broke into a detached garage in the 1500 block of Porter Street and stole various electrical tools.

Avatar

Published

on

From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the suspect in the attached photos. He is suspected of breaking into a garage in the Manchester neighborhood and stealing several items.

Between 7 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. on September 2, 2020, the suspect broke into a detached garage in the 1500 block of Porter Street and stole various electrical tools.

Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect is asked to call First Precinct Detective T. Wilson at (804) 646-0672 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

Comments

comments

Continue Reading

Richmond Weather