Monday, July 13, 2009

The Richmond Planet on Col. W. E. Cutshaw, Jan. 11, 1896.

Interested in Richmond's architectural history of the late 19th and early 20th century? Then let us suggest you learn about the work of Col. Wilfred E. Cutshaw who was the City Engineer of Richmond for 34 years (1874-1907).

Only in the last 15 to 20 years has his influence on the development of the city been recognized. This is due in large part to the scholarly work of architectural historians Selden Richardson and Tyler Potterfield. They brought back to life the work of Col. Cutshaw in their research and writings beginning in the 1990s.

Below is a rare image of the City Engineer and a very complementary article about him from the January 11, 1896 issue of the Richmond Planet.
The African American editors of the Planet were especially indebted to Cutshaw because of his work in support of the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory, home to Richmond’s first African American regiment, which served in the Spanish American War.

Learn more about Cutshaw from the Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary web site - an entry on the Byrd Park Pump House notes that during Cutshaw's "34-year tenure as City Engineer, Cutshaw's endeavors included roads, sidewalks, schools, armories, parks, markets, and the construction of Old City Hall, one of the city’s most magnificent buildings. He was an advocate for tree planting along streets, and oversaw the creation of a tree nursery at the Byrd Park Reservoir. In 1907, a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote that "Cutshaw's greatest ambition was to turn every available foot of space into recreation resorts for the public."

There is also a thesis called "Architect of the City": Wilfred Emory Cutshaw (1838-1907) and Municipal Architecture in Richmond" by Richardson from 1996. There are copies housed in the Library of Virginia and in the Special Collections and Archives dept. of the James Branch Cabell Library at VCU.

The Richmond Planet issue that contains the article can be accessed here.

The article says the image is from a photograph made by
J. C. Farley, "our colored photographer." I found a little about Farley HERE.
I plan to write more about James Conway Farley (1854-1910) in a future post.

Click on the images for a larger view.

- Ray B.

1 comment:

claymont said...

Very nice catch with the Cutshaw article. This was a very important official who some say really shaped the face of the city we know today. If it weren't for Cutshaw Avenue and the plaque that honors him in Old City Hall, I am afraid the good Colonel would have been lost to history entirely.