Monday, August 17, 2009

This Town Is Testing Me

Another building is being "refurbished" near me, and yeah, I'm scared. How could I not be?

814 W. Broad Street

Also known as the Richmond Glass Factory since the 1950s, t
his is what it has looked like ever since I've been in Richmond. Lovely, wasn't it? Not. For some reason a lot of Richmond buildings were covered in this type of aluminum siding. I'm now curious about the "real" look of a lot of buildings in this town.

I can't remember when or where, but some time ago I saw a picture of what this building looked liked years ago and it was gorgeous. I'm sure I saw the picture at work but I haven't been able to track it down since. Which is bad because someone working on the new construction in that area came into work to see pictures of what this block looked like decades ago and we had none. Our pictures were from surveys taken after all of this "urban revitalization" crap was done to the facade. I gave them some organizations to get in touch with, the Virginia Historical Society, the Library of Virginia, the Historic Richmond Foundation. I SO hope they contacted them because it didn't seem that they had an architectural historian working on the project at all.

I forget to show you what the building looked like before. Here you go:

In 1952

And in 1907.

Believe it or not it was actually a electric rail station, the Richmond and Chesapeake Bay Railway station, in fact. See that great staircase through the door, all gone. And that Italian Renaissance/Beaux Arts architecture has all been hidden under stucco panels and aluminum siding for more than twenty years.

The building is part of the 2004 Broad Street Commercial Historic District's Boundary Increase on the National Register of Historic Places. More information about the building (and the district) can be found on the nomination form.

Flickr user F33 is on the case and photographing the changes being made to this building. We can watch the progress (fingers crossed) here.

Images: VA Department of Historic Resources, "Rails in Richmond" via deadlouisville's Flickrstream

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