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RVA Legends — Cordes & Mosby

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

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(Newspapers.com) — New Store of Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Times, Sunday, September 14, 1902
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  • AKA, Charles Stores
  • 11-17 East Broad Street
  • Built, 1886?
  • Destroyed by fire, rebuilt, 1902
  • Destroyed by fire, early 1990s

Perhaps a building wasn’t meant to be here.

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Temple, Pemberton, Cordes & Co. — Richmond Dispatch, Friday, December 10, 1897

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Temple, Pemberton, Cordes & Co. — Richmond Dispatch, Friday, December 10, 1897

Like many businesses of the post-Reconstruction Era, the company history of Cordes & Mosby and its antecedents is complicated. The earlier incarnation, Temple, Pendleton, Cordes, & Co. dated back to the end of the Civil War, with J. B. Mosby as a silent partner.

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Pemberton, Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, April 2, 1899

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Pemberton, Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, April 2, 1899

Partners in this day came and went. They retired or died in their 50s, and the remaining partners would coalesce around the remaining business. The next incarnation saw the reduction of Mr. Temple and the emergence of J. B. Mosby from the shadows.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 6 — showing 11-17 East Broad Street as the location of The Cohen Co.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 6 — showing 11-17 East Broad Street as the location of The Cohen Co.

By 1900 the firm’s fortunes had changed again, down to just two partners. They also relocated from their old digs at 7-9 West Broad Street to the former Cohen Co. Dry Goods location at 11-17 East Broad Street.

(Newspapers.com) — Richmond Dispatch, Friday, February 21, 1902

(Newspapers.com) — Richmond Dispatch, Friday, February 21, 1902

It was a sizable operation, employing 70 people. Unfortunately, disaster struck in 1902, and the store was “totally destroyed by fire”, according to the Richmond Dispatch, throwing them all out of work.

Cordes & Mosby were boldly optimistic.

Members of the Firm Announces, However, That Business Will Resume at the Earliest Possible Moment, and That Every Employee Will Be Retained. [RDIS]

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 2 — showing "Dep’t Store From Plans”

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Richmond (1905) — Plate 2 — showing “Dep’t Store From Plans”

It turns out they did much better than that. By February 25th, they had relocated temporarily to Masonic Temple just up the street at 101-103 East Broad, and plans were made to replace the burnt structure with the massive four-story department store shown above.

They also did something unusual.

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, June 10, 1900

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, June 10, 1900

A called meeting of the employees of Messrs. Cordes & Mosby was held yesterday morning to express themselves regarding the recent unfortunate loss sustaining in the total burning of the building and complete stock by fire on the night of February 20, 1902. Unanimously, the following was adopted:

Whereas, the relations between the firm and ourselves for years have been of the most cordial nature, and as the patrons of Messrs. Cordes & Mosby were accorded the fairest treatment, making our trade relations successful and highly satisfactory, we wish to attest our regret at the great loss and our earnest desire for future success: therefore, be it

Resolved, In the sudden calamity of fire and consequential financial loss, including the interruption to business, Messrs. Cordes & Mosby have our deepest and most profound sympathy.

Resolved, 2, In the munificent action of the firm in the consideration of the welfare of their employees by the continuance of the pay-roll for full time during our enforced idleness, they have our highest consideration and gratitude. We assure Messrs. Cordes a& Mosby that we stand one and all ready to push forward their interests to the fullest of our several abilities. [RDIS]

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, December 21, 1902

(Newspapers.com) — advertisement for Cordes & Mosby — Richmond Dispatch, Sunday, December 21, 1902

That’s right: they continued paying their employees. In the day when unemployment insurance didn’t exist, that seems pretty surprising, not to mention generous and humane. No wonder the staff decided to vote for a formal thank you published in the local paper.

(Interestingly, one of the 64 employees who signed the resolution was F. P. Gretter. He was also the father of Florence Gretter, a local artist who studied at Cooper Union in New York City)

[ADR] — 11-17 East Broad Street in 1981 with a considerably remodeled facade, still a four-story behemoth

[ADR] — 11-17 East Broad Street in 1981 with a considerably remodeled facade, still a four-story behemoth

The building must have flown together because Cordes & Mosby was in their new digs by September. Of course, this like all things, would not last. It would eventually transform into the J.B. Mosby Dry Goods Store by 1916, in its own brand new building at 201-205 West Broad Street.

April 2020 — looking towards the former 11-17 East Broad Street today

April 2020 — looking towards the former 11-17 East Broad Street today

Neither would the spiffy new building at 11-17 East Broad Street go the distance. It too vanished, coincidentally also by fire, in the 1990s. This space now serves duty as a parking lot.

This location has a little bit of mystery about it. According to Robert Winthrop, it was built in 1886 and remodeled in 1909 [ADR], but we know it burned in 1902. Perhaps there was enough remaining to consider it the same structure, which would explain why Cordes & Mosby was back in business by September.

(Library of Congress) — Comparison of the 1895 (left, Plate 15) and 1905 (right, Plate 2) Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Richmond — showing different states of 11-17 East Broad Street before & after the 1902 fire

(Library of Congress) — Comparison of the 1895 (left, Plate 15) and 1905 (right, Plate 2) Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Richmond — showing different states of 11-17 East Broad Street before & after the 1902 fire

However, a close comparison of the 1886 building and the rebuilt 1905 version show them to be different structures.

Winthrop calls the significant changes in appearance between the artist’s rendering of the 1902 building and the Charles Stores facade “modernization… of little interest”. It was certainly changed beyond recognition.

(Cordes & Mosby is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [ADR] Architecture in Downtown Richmond. Robert P. Winthrop. 1982.
  • [RDIS] Richmond Dispatch, Tuesday, February 25, 1902.

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Community

2nd Street Festival Cancelled Grand Master Flash Performing at Hippodrome

Although the festival is cancelled there is a least one show that will go on. Curse you Hurrican Ian, curse you.

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Sad news from Venture Richmond

Venture Richmond Events has made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel the 2nd Street Festival, scheduled for this weekend, Oct. 1-2.

Like many, the Venture Richmond Events team has watched Ian for days, hoping that it would not be the massive and potentially deadly weather event that it clearly is. While we are extremely lucky to be a few states away from the serious issues Florida is facing, we also know that this weekend promises uncertain amounts of rainfall and potential wind gusts for our area. After consulting meteorologists, vendors, contractors, security, and other event planners, and after considering the Governor’s State of Emergency, we concluded to the best of our ability, that the event, if held, would not be safe. We must put the safety of our patrons, artists, vendors, contractors, and staff foremost.

There is good news though – a portion of the party will go on indoors! Our festival headliner, Grandmaster Flash will perform indoors at The Hippodrome theater on 2nd Street in Jackson Ward on Saturday evening. This performance will be FREE and open to the public, but capacity is limited and based upon availability.

2nd Street Festival at The Hipp

A special performance by Grandmaster Flash with an opening band

Saturday, October 1, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Hippodrome Theater, 528 N. 2nd Street

Doors 4:30 p.m.

Free and open to the public with limited capacity and based upon availability.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Community

Virginia Pridefest Festing on Brown’s Island

The Truist Main Stage headlining acts include The Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia, Leikeli 47 and Rosé from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

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Pridefest weekend features three amazing events, beginning with Pride After Dark: Animal -the official pre-Pride Party. Get your tickets for Pride After Dark at vapride.org Pridefest is Saturday on Browns Island featuring Leikeli47, Big Freedia, and numerous local performers and is free and open to all. The weekend of festivities will end at Bingo Beer Co. With Snatch’d: a Rainbow Celebration – no ticket required.

Virginia Pride is a program of Diversity Richmond, the LGBTQ Community Center for Central Virginia. A committee of volunteers oversees VA Pride’s efforts to make the Richmond Region a better place for LGBTQ people to live, work and visit.

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Community

Persons of interest in Jewelry Theft

Friday, September 16, at approximately 1:30 p.m. two individuals entered an open business and stole several pieces of jewelry before leaving the store in an unknown direction.

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From RPD

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the individuals in these photos who are persons of interest in a theft that occurred last Friday in the 1300 block of East Cary Street.

Friday, September 16, at approximately 1:30 p.m. two individuals entered an open business and stole several pieces of jewelry before leaving the store in an unknown direction.

The female suspect is approximately 5 foot 7 inches tall, weighing approximately 180 pounds, last seen wearing a black shirt, white pants, black sandals, carrying a black shoulder bag.

The male suspect is approximately 5 foot 7 inches tall, weighing approximately 160 pounds, last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans, brown shoes, black baseball style hat.

Anyone with information about the identity of these individuals are asked to call First Precinct Detective T. Wilson at (804) 646-0672 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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