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Downtown

Must-See RVA! — Cokesbury Building

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

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April 2020
  • 415 East Grace Street
  • Built, 1921
  • Architects, Carneal & Johnston

Once there was this trendy little bookstore in the heart of the downtown shopping district.

[ADR] — Cokesbury Building in 1981

[ADR] — Cokesbury Building in 1981

This building was built for the Methodist Publishing House and designed by Garnett & Johnston. Its design clearly is related to the Mosby Store at the corner of Jefferson and Broad Streets, by Starrett & Van Vleck.

April 2020 — showing projecting cornice

April 2020 — showing projecting cornice

That design was, in turn, related to McKim, Mead & White’s Gorham Building in New York, a modernized version of an Italianate palazzo with an arcade at the base of the building and a heavy projecting cornice at the roof.

April 2020

April 2020

This design was felt to be a particularly successful blending of traditional and modern features, most appropriate for a modern shop.

April 2020

April 2020

The Cokesbury Building is designed carefully and well detailed. The first floor arcade was glazed fully, but is now closed partially.

April 2020

April 2020

The interior vaulted ceilings have been removed, but the building is otherwise well preserved. The reason for the popularity of this building type is seen easily. It is simple, dignified and impressive. [ADR]

(Richmond Times Dispatch) — Cokesbury Building in 1952

(Richmond Times-Dispatch) — Cokesbury Building in 1952

The Cokesbury Building, with the Cokesbury Bookstore on the first floor, was an outgrowth of the Methodist Episcopal Book Concern. Created in 1789, this organization was established to religious materials for the Methodist church. It would eventually expand to include books and religious supplies and rebranded as the Cokesbury Press in 1925. By 2012, there would be 57 Cokesbury Book Stores nationwide, one of which used to be on Grace Street.

April 2020

April 2020

But in that same year, Cokesbury announced the closure of their brick-and-mortar stores, and today they’re online only. The Grace Street location had long been abandoned by that point, having relocated to Tuckernuck Square shopping center in 1992. A loss, really. They were more than just religious books and often had unusual or hard to find titles, back in the days before Amazon.

Today, it’s the Cokesbury Building Apartments.

(Cokesbury Building is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert Winthrop. 1982.

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