Friday, June 12, 2009

Charles W. Smith and Richmond Magazine.

The April 1929 issue of Richmond Magazine featured the work of Charles W. Smith (1893-1987). The image is that of the headquarters of the National Pepsi-Cola Corporation, 1224 W. Broad Street in Richmond. The 1920s era building housed the fledgling Pepsi-Cola company from 1923 until 1931. The building would later house the Jack Thompson Furniture Company. In 1998 it was demolished by VCU to make way for its Sports Medicine Building which opened in July of 2001.
Richmond Magazine was published monthly by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce from 1914 through 1933. Many of the magazine's cover illustrations in the late 1920s and early 1930s were provided by Virginia artist and educator Charles W. Smith (1893-1987). Eight of his cover illustrations are currently featured in an exhibit in the Special Collections and Archives department at VCU's James Branch Cabell Library. Two of those covers are shown here.
Smith was a graduate of the Corcoran Art School and of Yale’s School of Fine Art. After teaching at the University of Virginia and in New York, Smith moved to Richmond to work for the printing firm Whittet & Shepperson. In 1927 he was the first professional artist to be hired by the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health (later Richmond Professional Institute and now VCU) to teach art. This occurred a year before a full time art program was developed by Theresa Pollak (1899-2002). Smith became chair of the art department at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont in 1936. In 1947 until his retirement in 1963 he taught art and chaired the art department at the University of Virginia. He died in Charlottesville in 1987.
Smith's image of Central National Bank (CNB) building, 219 E. Broad St., on the cover of the January 1929 issue of Richmond Magazine. The building was built 1928-1929.  At 22 stories it was the tallest building in the city for decades. The building was designed by John Eberson (1875-1964), a noted New York architect best known for his design of movie theaters. Local architects Carneal and Johnson shared in the work and design of the building. The large neon sign that stood on the top of the building changed colors according to the weather forecast for the next day. 

1 comment:

HEK said...

Tyler, Ray: Ah, our Art Deco glories. "Maximum Bob" Winthrop wrote in "Architecture of Downtown Richmond" that the intervention of the Depression prevented Broad and Grace from about 3rd into the President streets from resembling the Sunset Strip. Thanks..or should I say that?..for reminding me of the loss of the Pepsi-Cola building. I'll keep my teeth grinding to myself while I bite my tongue. That building is on the edge of my memory.
The CNB neon -- it was red if warming, blue if cooling, right?