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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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Virginia Business Reporting that the Bally’s Casino No Longer in the Running

There are only two casino options now on the table.

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Caught this news this morning on Virginia Business:

The city of Richmond has cut the $650 million Bally’s casino proposal from consideration, leaving two competitors, the mayor’s office announced Wednesday morning.

The Live! Casino & Hotel proposal by The Cordish Cos. and ONE Casino and Resort, proposed by Radio One Inc., are the only two options now being considered by an evaluation panel named by the city.

“We appreciate Bally’s interest to develop a resort casino project in Richmond,” Leonard Sledge, director of the city’s Department of Economic Development, said in a statement.  “The evaluation panel is no longer considering the Bally’s project or the Parkway Crossings site for a resort casino due to concerns about site access, environmental factors and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the project timeline. We also appreciate the many Richmond citizens who have shared their thoughts throughout this process.”

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Herbs Galore & More at Maymont

Get your tickets now for Herbs Galore & More to be held Saturday, April 24, 8am-3pm.

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Spring is in the air and it’s time to get plants into the dirt. Herbs Galore & More is a great spot kickstart your garden and/or yard.

Put on your gardening shoes, grab your little red wagon and come out to the Marketplace on the Lawn for everyone’s favorite plant sale! The event will feature extra space between vendors, wide aisles and a spacious layout for a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all guests.

$7 per person/free for members and children ages 12 and under.
Please purchase your tickets in advance.
Get Your Tickets and More Info Here

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A quirky ‘yield to pedestrians’ sign on Brookland Park Boulevard is serving as an experiment in driver behavior

An interesting experiment is taking place in the Brookland Park area at the intersection of traffic, human behavior, and safety – and it’s all playing out on the r/rva Subreddit.

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An interesting experiment is taking place in the Brookland Park area at the intersection of traffic, human behavior, and safety – and it’s all playing out on the r/rva Subreddit.

After a yield for pedestrians sign was placed in the middle of Brookland Park Boulevard at Richmond-Henrico Turnpike, intrepid citizens, and Reddit user AndrewTheGovtDrone specifically, have documented drivers’ awareness (or lack thereof) of the sign, placed hats, balloons, and other items on or around the sign to see if or how it affects driver behavior, and witnessed it be struck by vehicles more than 30 times – and those were just the incidents caught on a video camera set up for a mere 16 hours.

Some stats about the sign and what affected driver behavior from the original post:

General Stats

The videos were taken on Thursday, April 8th (4/8/21). Saturday, April 10th (4/10/21) and Monday, April 12th (4/12/21). Altogether, the videos captured over 16 hours of intersection activity. The below stats are derived from the review of that footage. During this period:

  • 655 vehicles made the left turn off of Richmond-Henrico Tpk onto Brookland Park Blvd.

  • Of the 655 vehicles, 29 were “Commercial vehicles”( i.e. trucks, vans, uHauls, box-trucks, delivery trucks, buses, etc.). Pickup trucks and SUVs were not considered “Commercial vehicles” unless they were towing a trailer.

  • The sign was struck at least 22 times during these three days. It is entirely possible that additional collisions happened before the camera was deployed and/or after the camera died.

  • No commercial vehicles ever struck the the sign. All were able to navigate the intersection without colliding with the pedestrian sign.

  • Based on the data, drivers turning left onto BPB navigate the intersection without issue 96.6% of the time. In other words, the overwhelming majority of drivers are able to make a proper and safe turn. Collisions were not related to type of car being driven as all car types were shown to be capable of making the turn successfully if driven correctly.

  • During this period, 229 pedestrians were recorded crossing the intersection. This is likely a significant undercount due to the placement of the camera. The majority of pedestrians were bikers and dog-walkers.

Additional Information
  • As silly as the balloons were, they had a significant positive impact on driver behavior. Prior to the balloons, the sign was hit six (6) times on Monday. Following the balloon placement, the sign was hit only one (1) time.

  • Interestingly, drivers seemed to make the turn “most appropriately” (i.e. a squared-off turn) during high-traffic periods. When there was oncoming traffic, users took extra precaution to not cross the yellow lines and complete their turn “inside” the intersection. Drivers were generally more “reckless” when the roads were open.

  • The majority of pedestrians using the intersection crossed in the intersection on the “other” crosswalk, the one not being desecrated. However, the crosswalk that our champion guards is high-volume for users of the bus system.

  • At least one (1) couple hung out at the intersection for about 30 minutes waiting to see someone run our sign over. Fortunately for our sign and unfortunately for them, no one trampled him.

  • There were either two (2) separate Carvana deliveries observed or someone returned their Carvana vehicle a few days after receiving it. I’d love to get to the bottom of this.

  • As many have anecdotally reported, drivers seem unsure about what is expected of them when they approach these signs. Some slow down, most carry on without changing behavior, a small subset come to a complete stop. The City may do well to better communicate the expectations for both drivers and pedestrians related to the signs.

Based on what I saw, the takeaway is pretty clear: the sign is not the problem. #RVASIGNGANG #SIGNMEUP

As one commenter said in the original post, data is sexy, and while these experiments are entertaining, the more important outcome is that it’s all bringing attention to Richmond’s lack of pedestrian infrastructure and drivers’ carelessness at particularly nefarious intersections such as this one.

You can follow along with the sign’s saga here. A a few photos from the great experiment are below.

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