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history

Scott’s Addition: A Photo Essay on a Neighborhood Full of Grit & Potential

By | city life, history, life | No Comments

Next week will mark a year since I moved to Scott’s Addition (and probably about the same amount of time since I last blogged, to be honest). Moving here, into a recently renovated warehouse, was a stark contrast to life in Short Pump, but I couldn’t be happier to have happened upon this neighborhood.

I wasn’t really even considering Scott’s Addition when it came time for the apartment search, mainly because I didn’t know much about it or think there was much in the way of housing. But thanks to my roommate Lizzy and a Craigslist post, we found a cool place in a great up-and-coming neighborhood.

To me, Scott’s Addition is full of grit, brimming with character and ripe for re-development, much of which is already taking place or in the works.

But it doesn’t necessarily exude the same image nearby neighborhoods do–yet. Unlike the nearby Fan area, full of stately, established old homes and tree-lined streets, Scott’s Addition is industrial and scrappy. The buildings themselves, built anywhere between the late 1920s and 1950s (my particular building was constructed in 1944, according to city records), don’t all all have the same inviting character of an old home. What they do have, though, is just as much character.

Just in the past year, I’ve seen dramatic transformations in my neighborhood. Blighted warehouses have been turned into creative apartments, blending old and new (much like mine). and neglected stockrooms have been transformed into thriving breweries (Isley Brewing Co. and Ardent Craft Ales both opened within the past year).

Just up the street from me on Summit Avenue, in fact, a business corridor has come together with the addition of Lamplighter Roasting Company, Health Warrior, Isley Brewing Co., Richmond Bicycle Studio and Studio Center Total Production. There’s even an Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe on the way, slated to open in September.

Pair these recent additions with hole-in-the-wall gourmet diner duo Lunch and Supper, Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and Bar and the ever-enduring Dairy Bar (in business since 1946), and you’ve got a nice little neighborhood vibe going on, not to mention it’s all just a short walk or bike ride away from the amenities and establishments of The Fan.

I took a walk around the neighborhood to document the state of the neighborhood and its progress last weekend. Here are some of the sights, in monochromatic glory.

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Throwback Thursday: 1951 Downtown Richmond Tornado

By | history, RVA, weather | One Comment

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Richmond history and weather are two items up there on my list of very favorite things, so it should come as no surprise that a blurb in the Richmond Times-Dispatch with a picture of damage from an F3 tornado that ripped through Downtown Richmond on June 13, 1951 piqued my interest.

I remember my late grandma telling me a story once of a terrible windstorm or tornado coming through Byrd Park where she lived a long, long time ago, and I figured out this must have been it based on the map of the twister (below) that had it crossing the James River just south of Byrd Park, and then ripping into The Fan and going straight down Cary Street between Meadow Street and turning towards Monroe Park near the VCU campus.

VCU Library Archives

The Shockoe Examiner

This was an F3 tornado, which by definition packs winds between 158 and 206 miles per hour. In its wake, the tornado injured dozens of people, destroyed 100 homes, and damaged more than 1,000 houses and buildings in Richmond, including ripping the bell tower off Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (seen below), the top of which was never rebuilt.

I don’t know for sure, but there’s a large swath of largely later 20th century construction and empty lots along Cary Street between Meadow and Randolph Streets to this day, while the rest of The Fan and Midtown remains intact. Some areas (especially south of 195) were demolished for the construction of the Downtown Expressway, but it makes me wonder if a lot of the destroyed or heavily damaged homes were just never rebuilt.

Below is an aerial view of the tornado’s destruction, taken facing west, over the Randolph neighborhood. To the upper left, you’ll notice Byrd Park’s Swan and Shields Lakes.

Library of Virginia Archives

Tracing The Three Notched Trail

By | history | One Comment

I’ve always been fascinated with local history, but nothing has intrigued me more than Three Chopt Road. Hundreds of years ago, it was an Indian trail, and was then improved in 1730 as a more substantial roadway between Richmond and Charlottesville. Route 250 (Broad Street) replaced the road in the 1930s, but it’s still one of the oldest roads still in service today in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson frequented the road, going between his home in Monticello and the Capitol in Richmond quite often. Many, many other notable individuals have also traversed this roadway.

I’m about to undertake a huge project. I’m going to single-handedly document the entire road from its origin near Powhatan Hill east of Richmond, all the way to Augusta County in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Why? It’s one of the most historic roadways in America, and yet little has ever been done to completely document everything on this rapidly-deteriorating (because of replacement roadways) trail.

I’m going to set out to document interesting buildings and houses, landmarks, and other features of the road, beginning near the city, sometime in the next two or three weeks. Armed with just my GPS, camera, and camcorder, I’ll document anything interesting I see. I hope to somehow export geodata about where videos and pictures were taken onto a custom Google map as the project progresses. Check back on the website I bought for the project, www.threechopt.org, soon. I’m ready to do this!

Am I crazy? Maybe. But this is my passion! Plus, a lot of people I’ve talked to out at the local history exhibition I put on every Fall always ask about the road and its history. Heck, it even runs right through Short Pump, although most of the original portions in this area have been realigned to make way for developments, such as West Broad Village.

Stay tuned, there are many more updates to come! If you or someone you know would like to get involved, I’d love to hear from you.