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RVA Legends — Charles D. Hill & Co.

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

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[IOR] — 1412-1416 East Cary Street
  • 1410-1416 East Cary Street

Another tobacco merchant in a town filled with them.

[RVCJ93] — Charles Watkins, who would later leave Hill, Skinker & Watkins to form his own Charles Watkins & Co. in 1882

[RVCJ93] — Charles Watkins, who would later leave Hill, Skinker & Watkins to form his own Charles Watkins & Co. in 1882

Grain, Leaf Tobacco, and General Commission Merchants. No firm in Richmond, either—in amount of business, extent of facilities, or excellence of location, surpasses that of Charles D. Hill & Company. Mr. Hill has lived in Richmond since 1857, and has since 1866, been connected with the leaf tobacco trade. In that year he organized the firm of Hill & Poteat, Leaf Tobacco Commission Merchants, and afterwards was, at various times, a member of Hill & Skinker, and Hill, Skinker & Watkins, both of which were noted in the tobacco trade.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1886) — Plate 15 — showing Center Warehouse

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1886) — Plate 15 — showing Center Warehouse

In 1882, he entered business alone, under the title at the head of this notice, the company being nominal. His place of business Centre Warehouse, is probably the largest in the city, and has a storage capacity for 3000 hogsheads of tobacco. From early in the Colonial History of Virginia, tobacco warehouses have played a prominent part in her social and business life, being the gathering place for Virginians, as the village was to the New Englanders. The planters only money crop was brought to them, and at the same place he received tobacco notes, the currency of the day. Here were the blacksmith’s shop and the tavern, and here too, if it was on a river, as was generally the case, came the ships from “home” England.

March 2020 — looking towards the former 1410-1416 East Cary Street — the tobacco storage building where the parking lot stands today, and Centre Warehouse across the alley in today’s parking lot

March 2020 — looking towards the former 1410-1416 East Cary Street — the tobacco storage building where the parking lot stands today, and Centre Warehouse across the alley in today’s parking lot

Though, of course, many of these features have changed, yet warehouses, and especially the massive built Centre, are objects of great interest, and are frequently visited by strangers, who look curiously at the “breaks.” There is a stable attached for teams hauling tobacco from the country. Besides leaf tobacco, the house does a very extensive grain and general commission business, and exports tobacco to England. Mr. Hill “has a business reputation second to none, and is widely known as an unsurpassed judge of the staples he handles. He is also engaged in the manufacture of the “Virginia Weed,” and is President of the Pemberton & Hill Company. [IOR]

(Charles D. Hill & Co. is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

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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.

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RVA Legends — Architectural Iron Works

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

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[IOR] — looking toward the northwest corner of Eleventh & Cary Streets
  • 1008-1012 East Cary Street

One of the “constellation of firms” associated with iron man Asa Snyder. [CAW]

(Coal Chutes of Richmond) — showing manufacture by Asa Snyder & Co.

(Coal Chutes of Richmond) — showing manufacture by Asa Snyder & Co.

Asa Snyder & Co. Proprietors. Thirty-five years ago this establishment was founded by the late Asa Snyder in a very moderate way, but it gave genuine evidence of enterprise from the start, and in a few years it became a noted landmark of business industry. War, fire, and financial strife, have battered at its doors, but it still stands a monument to the enterprise of its founder.

[AAA] — advertisement for Snyder & Irby’s architectural ironworks

[AAA] — advertisement for Snyder & Irby’s architectural ironworks

Its contributions to the trade reflect the greatest credit on the mechanical skill of those employed in its several constructive departments. They find a large and steady demand from Virginia and West Virginia, North and South Carolina, for their beautiful and reliable goods of architectural designs. They employ sixty hands, and have a cupola capacity for making five tons of castings per hour.

(Glassian) — a Hyatt Patent Area Light

(Glassian) — a Hyatt Patent Area Light

Their specialties are all kinds of galvanized, cast and wrought iron used in building, which embraces vault doors, elevators,. fence and balcony railings, verandas, skylights, cornices, window hoods, steeples, &c. They are also manufacturers of Hayes’ Patent Skylight, Hyatt’s Patent Area Light, for which they control Virginia.

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Asa Snyder & Co. — The Jewish South — Friday January 13, 1899

(Chronicling America) — advertisement for Asa Snyder & Co. — The Jewish South — Friday January 13, 1899

Messrs. Asa K. Snyder and Benj. J. Atkins comprise the present firm of Asa Snyder & Co. They were both members of the firm at the time of the death of Mr. Asa Snyder, in 1884, and have continued under the same firm name.

(Virginia Memory) — letterhead for Architectural Iron Works, Asa Snyder & Co.

(Virginia Memory) — letterhead for Architectural Iron Works, Asa Snyder & Co.

Mr. Asa K. Snyder was born and raised here, and was brought up in the iron trade. He is also in the pig iron and foundry supply brokerage business.

Mr. Atkins resides in Manchester. He has been connected with this house for twenty years, and has been a partner in the concern since 1877. [IOR]

[IOR] — Tanner and Delaney Engine Company which became Richmond Locomotive & Machine Works after a hostile takeover in 1887

[IOR] — Tanner and Delaney Engine Company which became Richmond Locomotive & Machine Works after a hostile takeover in 1887

Snyder may have been well-known, but he was not the biggest game in town.

Mention has been made of the three great iron works here, the Tredegar, the Old Dominion and the Richmond Locomotive Works, employing probably 2,500 hands between them. Of this class, there are, besides, two big stove works, the Richmond Spike Works and the Johnson forge, for car axles, in Manchester; electric light, and electrical construction companies and establishments, and half a dozen carriage and wagon and agricultural implement works, of more than local note and business, not to mention the minor shops and smithies that are here in scores. [RVCJ93]

Despite this, Snyder’s work was arguably longer-lived and more visible than any of the big three.

March 2020 — Asa Snyder ironfronts on the J. P. Winston Building, which as originally 101-107 South Fourteenth Street, no matter Kaplan Voekler Cunningham & Frank PLC’s current address

March 2020 — Asa Snyder ironfronts on the J. P. Winston Building, which as originally 101-107 South Fourteenth Street, no matter Kaplan Voekler Cunningham & Frank PLC’s current address

A number of partial facades were provided by Richmonder Asa Snyder. Snyder, along with the constellation of firms associated with his name, seems to have had several standard designs. Several buildings used a squared-off, classical colonnade with capitals made up of what looks like slightly over-ripe fruit. Others used a more geometrically precise rectangular ornament. Snyder provided a full range of architectural ornaments for his buildings which also possess cast iron window caps and cornices.

March 2020 — Asa Snyder ironfronts at Sam Miller’s — 1210 East Cary Street

March 2020 — Asa Snyder ironfronts at Sam Miller’s — 1210 East Cary Street

Snyder also provided the ironwork for the 1871 Columbian Building, now Sam Miller’s Exchange Cafe. The building possesses galvanized cornices and cast iron window caps. The most impressive use of iron in the building is the attenuated Corinthian columns used to support the roof of the third floor Exchange Room. The Columbian Building was Richmond’s corn and grain exchange and the Exchange Room is one of the most important early commercial spaces remaining in the city.

March 2020 — Asa Snyder ironfronts at Baldwin & Jenkins — 1321 ½ East Main Street, the skinniest building in Richmond

March 2020 — Asa Snyder ironfronts at Baldwin & Jenkins — 1321 ½ East Main Street, the skinniest building in Richmond

The most curious of the fronts is a minuscule building inserted in a 7 ½ foot space on Main Street. While painted to match the adjacent Southern Railroad Supply Building, this structure is completely different and distinct. It was made by Architectural Ironworks of Richmond, one of Snyder’s firms. [CAW]

March 2020 — Baldwin & Jenkins ironfront detail

March 2020 — Baldwin & Jenkins ironfront detail

The man got around. Or rather men. As noted above, Asa Snyder died in 1884, leaving the business to his son, Asa K. Snyder. The son himself would die in 1892 at the tender age of 32, and despite a Richmond Times advertisement from 1894, the end of the company was nigh.

March 2020 — looking towards 1008-1012 East Cary Street

March 2020 — looking towards 1008-1012 East Cary Street

The block where the foundry stood would be substantially altered with the construction of the First & Merchants National Bank Building in 1973, which eliminated the portion of Eleventh Street that used to run through it. The image above is an approximation of where Eleventh Street would have been (right), putting Architectural Iron Works somewhere in the center.

Snyder also made contributions to Old City Hall. The Shockoe Examiner has an excellent article on old spiral staircases, which includes the iron staircase in the clock tower. Good reading!

(Architectural Iron Works is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [AAA] Allison & Addison’s Handbook of the Garden, Seed Catalog, and Almanac for 1868.
  • [CAW] Cast and Wrought. Robert P. Withrop. 1980.
  • [IOR] Industries of Richmond. James P. Wood. 1886.
  • [RVCJ93] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1893.

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Downtown Rush Hour During COVID-19

Just a few shots from downtown at 8 AM on a Friday but most definitely not a normal Friday.

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Old Dominion Energy Building to Tumble Down on May 30th

And the walls will come tumbling down.

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Dominion Energy built a fancy new tower at 600 Canal Place. They’ve been slowing chipping away at the old building creatively labeled, One James River Plaza, located just across the street. Chipping away isn’t going to work for the entirety of the 21 story building.

The big show will be on May 30th when the office building will be imploded and it’ll come tumbling down.

The exact timing is unknown but it will be in the early morning hours and at least a one block are exclusion zone will be set-up.

Once the building is down and the area cleared the plans call for a new Dominion Energy building that would a mere 17 floors and connected with a skybridge. Those plans are not finalized at this point. For perspective, the new building at 600 Canal Place is 20 stories.

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