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RVA Legends — W. O. Burton

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

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[RVCJ93] — brick yard at Fifteenth & Hull Streets (foreground), 110 Foushee (inset)
  • 110 Foushee Street (Office)
    Fifteenth and Hull Streets (Brick Works)

A brickmaker who helped build Masonic Temple.

[RVCJ93] — William Oscar Burton

[RVCJ93] — William Oscar Burton

W. O. Burton, contractor and builder and manufacturer of brick, at 110 Foushee street, has been engaged in that line for the last ten years. He has a place on Foushee street, 150 feet square, covered by his shops and his office, which are built of brick, and has his brick-yards in Manchester.

May 2020 — looking toward 110 South Foushee Street today

May 2020 — looking toward 110 South Foushee Street today

He has from 120 to 150 hands employed, according to the state of trade, and he does a business in the city and its field of perhaps $150,000 a year.

Some of the finest structures in Richmond were built by him, among others, the new Masonic Temple here, one of the handsomest buildings of the South;

(Ancestry) — advertisement in Chataigne’s Directory of Richmond, Va. 1893-94

(Ancestry) — advertisement in Chataigne’s Directory of Richmond, Va. 1893-94

Grace Street Baptist Church, Lombardy Street School, the Davis Shoe Factory and the residences of Thomas Stagg and George B. McAdams. The Masonic Temple cost, complete, $150,000; Grace Street Church, $50,000; and these are illustrations of the character of contracts he takes.

[RVCJ93] — new Chamber of Commerce building, circa 1893

[RVCJ93] — new Chamber of Commerce building, circa 1893

He was recently awarded the contract to build the new State Library building, shown on page 25 of this work, and he is now completing the new Chamber of Commerce building here, which is to cost, perhaps, $150,000.

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Manchester (1895) — Plate 7

(Library of Congress) — Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Manchester (1895) — Plate 7

Burton’s Brick Works, corner Fifteenth and Hull streets, Manchester, have a capacity of 50,000 brick a day. Their annual production is about 3,000,000 brick, and they usually carry in stock about 1,000,000. Mr. W. O. Burton, the proprietor — the same whose other affairs have just been described — is one of the best known Richmond builders and contractors.

May 2020 — showing former brick yard location at Fifteenth & Hull Streets today

May 2020 — showing former brick yard location at Fifteenth & Hull Streets today

He has an office in the city, as has been said, at the corner of Foushee and Canal streets, and he has built, among other large structures here, the Masonic Temple, Grace Street Baptist Church, and the “third tier” of the State Penitentiary. His brick yards in Manchester cover seven acres. He uses machinery and turns out both pressed and common brick. He employs about twelve teams, and more than a hundred hands. [RVCJ93]

[RVCJ93] — Residence of W. O. Burton Building Contractor — Grove Road, Western Suburbs

[RVCJ93] — Residence of W. O. Burton Building Contractor — Grove Road, Western Suburbs

The city directories list Burton as living in Manchester in 1877, and later 912 West Clay Street. Richmond, Virginia, the City on the James, 1893 edition, has a picture of his residence which it identifies as “Grove Road, Western Suburbs,” however precisely none of the available city directories identify him at such a location.

The natural conclusion is that they really meant Grove Avenue, but the setting depicted above looks pretty rural, with room enough for a windmill. The house also seems a bit out of character for a typical Fan or Museum District abode.

Kudos to anyone who can identify this location!

(W. O. Burton is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [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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Downtown

New report finds Virginia Capital Trail generated $8.9 million in local economic activity last year

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

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The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation recently released an economic impact report by the University of Richmond in collaboration with the Institute for Service Research, the findings were significant.

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

The full economic impact report can be found here.

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Community

Venture Richmond Spruces Up Downtown

There are 126 new hanging baskets installed along Broad Street from Belvidere to 12th Street in the Arts District and in the Shockoe neighborhood. Just one of the new beautification projects from Venture Richmond recently completed.

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Venture Richmond just completed efforts to enhance the downtown area including Canal Walk and Brown’s Island.

They’ve been funding beautification projects in the downtown area since 2013. Over the years they’ve worked with

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Capital One volunteers, and Virginia BioTech Park volunteers.

“Beautification projects are critically important to Downtown and its gateway neighborhoods. They help to inspire civic pride, create a sense of place and enhance the environment for businesses, residents and visitors, as well as attracting bees and butterflies to our urban areas,” said Lucy Meade, Director of Economic Development and Community Relations.

This year’s beautification projects included:

  • 126 hanging baskets installed along Broad Street from Belvidere to 12th Street in the Arts District and in the Shockoe neighborhood
  • 24 planters on Broad Street, 3rd Street, and 5th Street
  • 13 planting beds in the 400 block of East Grace Street
  • 5 medians including two blocks of Broad St. from Foushee to 1st Street, 3rd Street and I-95 ramp; 12th and Canal streets, and 14th and Dock streets (last two complete in early July)
  • 300+ annuals planted along the Canal Walk and around the Headman Statue on Brown’s Island

In addition to items above, the Clean & Safe Program’s contractor, Community Business Group (CBG), a local minority-owned firm, has been providing the “essential service” of sidewalk cleaning seven days a week throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, they have collected 269,000 gallons of trash and leaves.

​Following damages that occurred to businesses during recent protests, Venture Richmond and CBG launched a new Graffiti Cleaning Pilot Program as part of Clean & Safe. Property owners and businesses in the Downtown Service District area can request help removing graffiti by emailing [email protected].

Another item you’ll see soon is social-distancing circles on Brown’s Island to help visitors mantain social distancing.

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Business

Venture Richmond teams up with city for “Picnic in a Parklet” program to assist businesses during reopening phases

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

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Venture Richmond has announced a new initiative, “Picnic in a Parklet,” a program designed to assist Richmond restaurants and other businesses with Phase 2 and 3 of Forward Virginia. Through this new partnership with the City of Richmond, business owners can receive design and permitting assistance for their requests for more outdoor space, particularly parklets.

Parklets are outdoor patio spaces constructed in the on-street parking lane of the street in front of a business that can function as an area for customers to gather and/or take to-go orders and eat outside in a physically-distanced environment. Parklets are, by definition, public space; but, restaurants can offer lightly packaged to-go orders for people who simply want to dine in the parklet in front of the restaurant.

“Transforming our use of public space innovatively and sustainably requires partnerships just like this one,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “By linking the business and design communities, this program will expand the city’s growing network of creatively designed public spaces.”

Business-owners who are interested in temporarily converting an on-street parking space adjacent to their storefront into a parklet will be connected with Venture Richmond to better assess their needs. If a parklet will be helpful and appropriate, Venture Richmond will work with the American Institute of Architects Richmond Chapter (AIA Richmond) to connect businesses with a certified architect for pro-bono parklet design services. Venture Richmond will assist the applicant through the steps needed to obtain a permit from the City of Richmond.

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

Unless otherwise specified or revoked, parklet permits are valid for three years. All requests within Richmond City limits will be considered.

Requests for parklets can be submitted through the RVA Strong website. General information about parklets can be found here, and more information about the City of Richmond’s Parklet Program can be found here.

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