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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
  • 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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Black Bear’s Visit to Richmond Comes to a Safe End

No picnic baskets, bears, dogs, cats, or humans were harmed in today’s adventure.

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A black bear decided to explore Richmond today. First spotted on the Northbank Trail he later headed into town. Previous reports earlier in the week had the bear up near Pony Pasture. The picture above is from RACC Instagram which reported on the sedation and transportation of the bear.

We just received a call about a bear-and it really was a bear. Sometimes we laugh and arrive on scene with a giant Rottweiler, but nope-this was a real bear. We named him Fuzzy Wuzzy. Shout out to @richmondpolice for helping keep us safe and to @virginiawildlife for tranquilizing and relocating the bear out of the City!

Bear on Northbank this morning! from r/rva

Here he is in town.

Bear at Byrd and 5th from r/rva

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Majority of Virginia to enter Phase Two of reopening; Richmond to remain in Phase One for now

Richmond and Northern Virginia will remain in Phase One while surrounding localities can now ease restrictions on gatherings, indoor dining, and other uses.

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Governor Ralph Northam today signed Executive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One.

Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key statewide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to trend downward as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April.

“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said Governor Northam. “Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.”

Executive Order Sixty-Five modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Sixty-One and Sixty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed reopening due to outbreaks in poultry plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County will move to Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth, on Friday, June 5.

Under Phase Two, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people. All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.

Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.

The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.

Phase Two guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Phase One guidelines sectors are available here. Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Five and Order of Public Health Emergency Six is available here.

The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-One can be found here.

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Richmond Police, Mayor Stoney apologize after tear gas deployed before curfew on protesters

Protesters took to the streets of Richmond again Monday night and were met with a forceful response and the deployment of tear gas by Richmond Police – an action for which the department and Mayor Stoney later apologized.

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Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Richmond again Monday afternoon and evening to speak out after the death of George Floyd. The group organized near both the Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart Monuments on Monument Avenue and remained mainly peaceful until police approached demonstrators at the Lee statue and deployed tear gas, as can be seen below from the below Twitter video from VPM.

Around the same time, reports began coming in that protesters at the Stuart monument were attempting to bring it down. A young demonstrator scaled the base of the statue and took what appeared to be a hack saw to the leg of the monument’s horse in an effort to bring it down. Police responded by calling on protesters to stand down, citing the weight of the monuments and their potential to crush bystanders.

Richmond Police and Mayor Levar Stoney later apologized for the deployment of tear gas on peaceful protesters – well below the 8:00 PM curfew – saying it was uncalled for and inviting protesters to City Hall at noon Tuesday to “apologize in person.” For its part, RPD said the officers involved had been “removed from the field” and would be subject to disciplinary action.

The protesters then continued marching down Franklin Street, then W. Broad Street, where things fizzled out around 10:30 PM near 14th Street.

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