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In the News


Local Resident: Author Tom Wolfe

Photo courtesy of Washington & Lee University Special Collections and Archives

RIP Richmond native Tom Wolfe, who passed away at age 88 in May, 2018.  

From the RTD: "In 1991, Richmonder Ken Storey purchased Tom Wolfe's childhood home at 3307 Gloucester Road."  

"A freelance writer and public relations consultant at the time, Storey wrote to the famous novelist about the house, including a current photo of it, when it was painted white with sage-green shutters.

Three months later, much to his surprise, Storey received this typed letter from Wolfe, who recalled in vivid detail what it was like to grow up at 3307 Gloucester Road - the house Wolfe's own father built after Wolfe was born in 1930. "It has always been a wonderful house and a wonderful neighborhood, and it will always have a special place in my heart," Wolfe wrote to Storey."

Download the full letter as a pdf HERE.

History of the Westwood Tract and the McGuire House (downloadable)

"Although not currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Historic Richmond believes the McGuire Cottage is potentially eligible as a result of its association with McGuire and its evolution from early 19th century farmhouse to 20th century Union Presbyterian Seminary facility. As a significant historic resource, the McGuire Cottage contributes to the culture of the Richmond region and Historic Richmond believes that the preservation of the McGuire Cottage is particularly important."

From Phil Riggan's article, Jun 18, 2012 

"Ginter has a long list of accomplishments and philanthropic gestures, according to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: 25 Years and Growing by Frank L. Robinson and Lynn Kirk (available at the LGBG library):     

  • In 1884-88, acquired land for his visionary Northside suburbs, creating the neighborhoods of Bellevue Park, Sherwood Park and Ginter Park, the “Queen of the Suburbs.”

  • In 1890 when he was in the tobacco business, Ginter and partner John F. Allen merged with four other manufacturers: W. Duke, Sons and Company; William S. Kimball and Company; Kinney Tobacco; and Goodwin and company to form the American Tobacco Company — a forerunner of today’s Philip Morris USA.

  • In 1892, financed construction of narrow-gage railroads in Richmond’s Northside for hauling stone from his quarries at Young’s Pond (now Bryan Park) — spurring development of the Richmond Locomotive Works.

  • Personally financed and supervised construction of the majestic and perennial five-star Jefferson Hotel, which opened in 1895.

  • In 1896, created Lakeside Park, which quickly became a streetcar destination for bicyclists and outdoor excursions. The area is now Jefferson-Lakeside Country Club.

  • In 1897, Ginter’s Richmond Railway and Electric Company distinguished Richmond as the nation’s first city with an electric street car system. The company’s power plant was a precursor to today’s Dominion Virginia Power.

  • Gifted land that eventually became for Richmond’s Joseph Bryan Park and also Northside’s Union Theological Seminary (celebrating 200 years in 2012), when it moved from Hampden-Sydney College.

  • Purchased the Richmond Daily Times newspaper — which he later gave to his attorney and friend Joseph Stewart Bryan. The paper eventually became the Richmond Times-Dispatch and was the beginnings of Media General Inc."

“As with the food we eat and the air we breathe, so the sights habitually before our eyes play an immense part of determining whether we feel cheerful, efficient and fit for life.”

 landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead Jr.

"Olmsted revisited Richmond on his third trip and declared his first impression to have been somewhat mistaken. Richmond, he admitted, "somewhat surprised me by its substance, show and gardens, and I was inclined to think that in coming to it directly from New York and Philadelphia, I had been led to rather underrate its quality at my first visit." He complimented the city on "having a history, and something prepared for a future a well," and on owning Thomas Crawford's monument of Washington, which he considered to be "the highest attainment of American plastic art, and would be a glory to any town or country..."    source

Stretching for three-quarters of a mile between Brook and Hermitage Roads, this parkway represents the sole realized feature of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.’s plan for Sherwood Park, the streetcar suburb commissioned in 1891 by local businessman Lewis Ginter. Located northwest of downtown Richmond, the 225-acre neighborhood was one of the earliest proposals for suburban development following the introduction of the electric streetcar in 1888. Here, Olmsted, Sr. planned the arcing Brookland Park Boulevard, now named Brookland Parkway, to be a central spine for Sherwood Park, flowing diagonally in counterpoint to the rectilinear city grid. Olmsted’s design for the suburb featured gently curving streets tracing the neighborhood’s topography, large lots with generous frontages, and oval-shaped blocks, some of which were three times the size of Richmond’s traditional rectilinear layout. Due to an economic downturn in 1895, Olmsted, Sr.’s plans for the suburb—save the boulevard—were never realized and, in the 1920s, rectangular blocks with modest frontages were developed.

Today the 85-foot-wide parkway is divided by a 30-foot-wide grass median that separates two lanes of traffic each way. Crepe myrtles line the center strip, while the edges of the street are shaded by irregularly spaced canopy trees. The neighborhood’s secondary roads run parallel to the parkway and mimic its curvature. Set back from the street 50 feet on sloping hills, many of the homes lining the parkway are brick single-family dwellings with manicured lawns.

Mary Wingfield Scott:  Old Richmond Neighborhoods

Go to page 424 to see the history of Brook "avenue" coming out of Downtown Richmond 

"Let those who want to visualize Richmond streets of the early 1800’s thread their way through Brook Avenue, which runs at a tangent north from Broad at its intersection with Adams, descends to Bacon Quarter Branch, and climbs the hill on the far side until it merges with a straight modern double road down which the Ashland carline formerly ran. According to Mordecai, Brook Avenue was the oldest turnpike road leading into the city. The tobacco wagons followed it, turned east on Broad and then rumbled down the steep hill that is now Governor Street to the inspection warehouses. As late as 1845 it could still be called “the principal point of access to the city.”1 The most interesting building ever located on Brook Avenue was Baker’s Tavern, better known as Goddin’s Tavern (fig. 270), built by Martin Baker in the late eighteenth century. Since the Swan and the St. Claire had been altered and only insurance policies record the appearance of the Eagle,2 Mr. Lancaster’s excellent photograph gives us our best idea of the primitive inns of early Richmond. Behind this building was another; both were of brick. In the courtyard was a spring of delicious water, shaded by large sycamores. Mordecai gives a lively if brief account of the life there when it was the first stopping point in town of the early drovers.3 Baker died in 1821. His sons had all moved away from Richmond, and in 1835 they divided the twenty-five acres that had surrounded the tavern into lots, and sold the tavern itself with a Old Richmond Neighborhoods | 425 two-hundred-foot frontage to Captain John Goddin, who ran it for two decades. During the ’sixties it belonged to a Roman Catholic order, and was run as the hospital of St. Francis de Sales during the Civil War. Here Mrs. Patterson Allan, northern daughter-in-law of John Allan, was imprisoned when she was accused of traffic with the enemy. In 1883 Thomas F. Hannigan bought the old tavern and for a decade ran it as a saloon. About 1810 Martin Baker’s son Thomas built a brick house south of his father’s inn at the corner of Baker and Brook Avenue. After his death his widow continued to run a grocery and to live there. In the ’eighties and ’nineties it was operated as a grocery by Frederick Bauer. Though too much altered to be of great interest, this house, 801 Brook, is probably the oldest building standing on the street today."

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