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Richmond Then and Now: W. Leigh Street and Brook Road

A then and now snapshot of Richmond.

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Original Image from Souvenir views: Negro enterprises & residences, Richmond, Va.
Created / Published[Richmond, D. A. Ferguson, 1907]

The most obvious change is the steeple that is missing from Ebenezer Church. There is of course an interesting story about local steeples. Richmond churches had a bit of a rivalry when it came to the height of their respective steeples. The rivalry didn’t extend into using strong building practices and the city upon inspecting many of the local churches condemned the structures and shut down the churches. More from an old RTD article.

Two days later, more condemnations, as spires of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church “were found to be in unsafe condition,” according to the archives.

Many of the spires appeared to have been constructed during the early post-Civil War years and the wood had become rotten and worm eaten. Several other churches requested to have their spires inspected, with most churches choosing to continue to hold services, according to the archives.

It’s not clear which churches removed their spires and which had repairs. Ebenezer Baptist Church did follow the order. In 1911, the spire was removed and the current portico was added, according to church history. St. Paul’s Church removed its spire as well.

 

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.