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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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Conversations at the Monument this Saturday

The end goal is to record and allow for these conversations to create a framework for change and policy making at the state and local level.

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Councilperson Stephanie Lynch is hosting a set of five conversation stations at Marcus David Peters Circle. A chance to listen and be heard.

Location: Lee Monument, 1700 Monument Ave
Date: Saturday, August 8th
Time: 2PM – 4PM

This city has been through a lot in the last several weeks and we have heard repeatedly from both organizers and every day residents that they would like more opportunities to have their voices heard. The movement for justice and equity is a fervent one and there has never been a more pertinent opportunity to bring people together and move into the action phase with real policies and solutions. The purpose of this event is to bring various groups together to listen to one another and have facilitated conversation with legislators, local elected officials and city leaders so that we can hear directly from the people we serve and represent. This event will happen rain or shine and will start promptly at 2pm-4pm.

There will be 5 facilitated “conversation stations” for residents to record their concerns, recommendations and policy ideas. Each station will be moderated by a designated facilitator around different institutions in our system that impact black lives (Education, Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Housing, Health and mental health care, and Economic Development). The end goal is to record and allow for these conversations to create a framework for change and policy making at the state and local level as legislators prepare for the August 18th General Assembly Special Session and on the city level, the resuming of the regular City Council calendar year.

Bring a mask, dress for the weather. All are welcome and no voice will be left out.

Confirmed Guests Thus Far Include:

Senator Jennifer McClellan
Senator Ghazala Hashmi
Delegate Betsy Carr
Delegate Dawn Adams
Delegate Schyler Vanvalkenburg
Councilmember Mike Jones
Councilmember Stephanie Lynch
Councilmember Andreas Addison
School Board Member Patrick Sapini
Chief Gerald Smith
Sherriff Antoinette Irving
Representation from the Office of the Mayor
Representation from the Office of the Superintendent

In service and solidarity,

Stephanie Lynch
City Council, 5th District

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Laura Lee’s is Now Open for Dine-in Service

Laura Lee’s has a plan to keep you, their employees safe and get you a great meal.

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Great news from our friends at Laura Lee’s (3410 Semmes Avenue).

Laura Lee’s is now open for dine-in and take-out daily from 5-10 PM:

We offer a mix of outdoor seating and tables adjacent to our open garage door at the front of the dining room. Our online reservations system does not differentiate between the two – we will do our best to offer your preferred table at arrival, but there are no guarantees. If you would like to specifically reserve either an indoor table or an outdoor table, please call us at (804)233-9672.

Please note that all guests are required to wear a mask or face covering.

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South of the James Farmers Market Plans to Return to Forest Hill Park Next Year

Grow RVA will return home to Forest Hill Park in May 2021 with a smaller Summer Brunch Market in late August.

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The neighborhood social media outlets have been a battleground of accusations, hurt feelings, whining, and sympathetic support when it comes to the South of the James Farmers Market move to Bryan Park.

GrowRVA posted yesterday hoping to clarify their plans. Will this put out the hair-rending and weekly question of “is the market coming back”? All signs point to no.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”☂️

Grow RVA has been weathering COVID-19 and working with Richmond VA Parks and RecreationKristen N. LarsonRMC Events and the RPD to offer the safest set up and practices in order to serve the RVA community. South of the James Farmers Market will remain in Bryan Park through the winter, as we are not sure how the virus will
continue to operate. ❤️

Grow RVA will return home to Forest Hill Park in May 2021. Until then, join us for a Summer Brunch Market in late August. More information will be posted as it is available. ❤️

And Bryan Park, big things to come Summer 2021!❤️

Thank you for your support as we navigate this current complicated situation! Good vibes go a long way!

Stay safe and shop local!❤️

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