Image of the train station when it was the city visitor center building, 1990s.
On November 13, 2017, Selden spoke at the Richmond City Council meeting during its public comments period about the need for the city to save or sell the Westham Train Station building. Below are his written comments. Selden also wrote an opinion piece for Style Weekly about the building that is also worth reading - you can read that HERE. Selden's remarks to City Council: ----------------------------------------
and gentlemen of City Council,
name is Selden Richardson, and I am a local historian and a Richmond taxpayer.
indifferent, negligent property owner is the scourge of American cities, and I
am sure each of you have seen his handiwork in your districts. The
plywood window, the peeling paint, trash, graffiti, and weed-grown city lots
are his calling card. His actions are selfish and often criminal as his
properties are first condemned as unsafe, then demolished once they reach the
point of collapse.
have come to speak about the plight of the Westham train station, a building
that stands at North Boulevard and Robin Hood Road, and in this case, the
indifferent, negligent property owner is
body and this administration are exactly the property owner that I have
described, and it is your predecessors and now you who are responsible for this
City has a wretched track record with its historic buildings. The same
policy of abandonment you see in that photograph is precisely what left the
Leigh Street Armory a roofless ruin in the middle of Jackson Ward for twenty
years. Having finally been rescued from City ownership, what is now the
Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, is a point of pride for
all Richmonders and an important tourist destination.
Marshall Street, this administration maintains Richmond’s largest outdoor
urinal, another City-owned building formerly known as the Richmond Light
Infantry Blues Armory. Under the its negligent and indifferent owner,
this building, almost the size of a city block in downtown Richmond remains
dark, overgrown, and padlocked and has been kept in that state for a decade.
in 1911 in Henrico County within sight of the Huguenot Bridge, the former
Westham train station was moved to this location near the Diamond in 1963 as
the City’s Visitors Center and part of a transportation-themed park. That ended in 2002 and for fifteen years this building has been allowed to
deteriorate to the condition you see in this photo.
The building as it appears today.
small rural train station is a building type that is disappearing from the
American landscape. Railroads tear them down, not wanting to maintain
them, so a survivor which is in the hands of a municipality is as much rarity
as it is a valuable asset.
of which is lost on you, the negligent, indifferent and callus owner.
as the condition of this deteriorating building so clearly demonstrates, IF
this administration and this Council are so criminally indifferent about City
property, IF our leaders are so utterly devoid of vision and imagination, IF
this administration and this Council has no sense of history, let alone of
moral or fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of this city, that’s ok - the
people of Richmond have a keen sense of diminished expectations of our
government and nobody will be surprised.
Original location of the Westham train station.
in 1911 in Henrico County within sight of the Huguenot Bridge.
Image from the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Magazine,
Vol. XXI, No. 8, August, 1989.
end this demolition by neglect and sell somebody the Westham station - it has
been moved before it can be moved again. Or, better still, give it back
to Henrico County, a place that has a well developed concept of community and
respect for its past.
whatever happens, do not continue to let this building deteriorate because of
your indifference. Do not continue the apathy of your predecessors.
on this matter before it is too late, and save the historic Westham train
above all, ladies and gentlemen, do not waste our tax dollars and do not
continue to act as the same indifferent, callus, and negligent property owner
who is the sworn enemy of a healthy and progressive American city.
For Selden's article for Style Weekly about the station visit their site HERE.
Back in 2002, James V. Roy unveiled a web site with a truck load of information about the entertainment history of the Mosque Theater in Richmond (currently called the Altria Theater). Roy is a knowledgeable and dedicated fan of guitarist Scotty Moore and has posted a large amount of information about Moore's life and work online for a number of years. The two links below are worth exploring if you're interested in the history of the Mosque in Richmond. They include many images of Moore, Elvis, and the wide variety of musical artists who have performed at the Mosque.