Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bird's-Eye images of the 1000 and 1600 blocks of W. Grace Street from the Richmond College yearbook, 1906.

A few Saturdays ago I came across a University of Richmond website that has digitized files of its student yearbooks (thanks to their Special Collections and Archives department). See their site HERE. I was especially interested in looking at their early yearbooks when they were known as Richmond College hoping I would see images of the school's neighborhood - located at what was then the end of W. Grace Street near Ryland Avenue The 1906 yearbook was a home run. It show two very rare views of the 1000 and 1600 blocks of West Grace Street. Richmond College was located in the middle of those blocks.

The 1889 Baist Atlas of Richmond (thanks to VCU Libraries it is online) gives the street and the Richmond College campus some context. Look at all those empty lots. 

University of Richmond, "The Spider - vol. 6, 1906" (1906). The Spider. 5. 

Here's a view looking east from the top of Ryland Hall from the 1906 Richmond College yearbook. We immediately see the 1000 block of W. Grace Street. Most of these buildings were red brick houses built in the late 1880s through the 1890s. Today, the north side of this block (seen on the left) is occupied by the former Safeway grocery store building and a recently built VCU dormitory and classroom space. On the south side of the block (the right side of this image) stands Dominion Place Apartments, the (new) Village Cafe building and two buildings seen in this 1906 image that still stand today.  

This view looks west and we see the 1600 block of W. Grace Street. Many of the houses are still under construction in this image. We see the Shenadoah apartment building (built 1905 according to the Department of Historic Resources) in the distance under construction as well as the Lee Monument to the left. Even Monument Avenue in this images has hardly any houses built on it yet. 

This image, taken from the top of the Chesterfield apartment building, is from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 25, 1906. It shows Richmond College's main building, Ryland Hall, facing W. Grace St. The article on the far right of the page discusses the construction of buildings taking place in the city at that time. These sections (shown below) of the article discuss the construction along W. Grace St.:

Another view - slightly annotated.

A postcard published ca. 1910 showing Ryland Hall, originally built in 1855 with major additions in 1873 and 1876. The building was nearly demolished by fire in 1910. By then plans were already underway for the school's move to the Westhampton suburb of Richmond where the University of Richmond has it campus today. 

Another early postcard view looking west from Ryland Avenue. Both Ryland Avenue and Ryland Hall were named for Dr. Robert Ryland (1805-1899), the first president of Richmond College. He also served from 1841 to 1865 as the first senior minister for the First African Baptist Church of Richmond. An excellent article about Ryland and First African Baptist Church was published in the Virginia Cavalcade, vol. 47, no 1, Winter 1998, entitled: "And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You: The First African Baptist Church, Richmond, 1841-1865," by Charles F. Irons. There is a "new" Ryland Hall (built 1913) located on the present University of Richmond campus named for both Robert Ryland and his nephew Charles Ryland. 

One of the earliest views of the school building
 Harper's Weekly, June 14, 1873.

The 1600 block of W. Grace St. looking west from
Lombardy Ave., postcard image circa 1910.

A rare postcard image showing the 1000 block of W. Grace St.

One of the survivors.

The first floor of building at 1039 W. Grace St. houses the "What's Happening" laundromat. There are apartments on the second and third floors. 

1039 W. Grace Street, corner of Grace St. and Ryland Ave. 

1011 W. Grace St. is another building that survived. 

It is very possible that the "new" Village Cafe building, located on the corner of Grace and Harrison Streets, was originally built in the1890s but with many modifications through the decades. If so, it lost its top two floors.   

More images from the 1906 Richmond College (University of Richmond) yearbook:

The library of Richmond College, 1906.

Richmond College's Art Hall. I wonder where this art is now?

Please view the Richmond College (University of Richmond) yearbooks HERE.

- Ray