Historical Sites, Richmond
Some people say that constructing new buildings at or near the Jackson Ward area is a sacrilege and it encroaches on the neighbourhood. The best option is to revitalise old delapidated buildings with some historical significance to their former glory, but if that cannot be done, there are new buildings like these: The Jackson Center, 501 N. 2nd St., a modern (1991) building that is headquarters for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, is named for Richmonder Giles B. Jackson, a former slave who became the first black lawyer to practice before the Virginia Supreme Court. It was Jackson's idea to establish a Negro exhibit at the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 in Norfolk and largely his efforts that brought it to reality. President Theodore Roosevelt, who took in the exhibit, stopped by Jackson's office in Richmond on his return to Washington to congratulate him not only on the exhibit but on the banks and other business in Richmond operated by blacks. Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, 320 N. 1st St., a modern structure, was established in 1930-31 when three prominent black banks in Jackson Ward merged. One of them, and the oldest, was the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, founded by Maggie Walker in 1903. Consolidated is the nation's oldest surviving black-operated bank. Projects such as the Dairy Building flats and the expanded convention centre are kicking the existing neighbourhood up a notch. For Jackson Ward, I am convinced the future is shaping up to be as bright as the past.
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This is not a fond memory, but rather a potential opportunity. Jackson Ward is more like Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. "It was the best of times..." (Maggie Walker House, the wrought iron porches on Leigh Street, and popular tourist spots). "It was the worst of times..."
The Elk's Lodge, 526 N. 2nd St., is an impressive structure that has seen better days. It was built about 1905 as the 26-room mansion of the Reverend W.L. Taylor, a leader in the United Order of True Reformers, a temperance organization. One of the first buildings in Virginia designed by a professional black architect, J.A. Lankford, it was one of the largest buildings in Virginia, possibly in the country, built for a black man.
The Hippodrome Theater right nextdoor is now missing its famed marquee, is currently being restored that may one day return it to its glory days (from the late 1920s to the 1940s and somewhat beyond). It was one of three performance sites that gave Jackson Ward its nickname, the Harlem of the South. Many black entertainers built their reputations here, including local legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and James Brown.
The nearby convention centre presents a problem and an opportunity at the same time. The problem is that development encroaches on the historic neighbourhood. However, designation by many buildings as a historic area will limit this dubious progress. Also, with new development comes the possibility of more tourism that will come when delapidated older buildings like the two pictured here get revitalised. However, restoration in this community moves on at an uneven pace.
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Favorite thing: Hollywood Cemetery has a 90 foot (27 m.) pyramid which is a monument to the thousands of Confederate enlisted men. Their fight was less about defending the institution of slavery (many Confederate war veterans were poor farmers who couldn't afford slaves) than about defending their home against aggression from somewhere else. What really stands out here is that the collective monument for the enlisted men is much more grandiose than the monument for President Jefferson Davis.
Favorite thing: Richmond is noted for its history, so it follows that some famous historic figures would be buried here. The picture only has room for three. George Wythe was the first Virginian to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was also the first teacher of law in the colonies and Thomas Jefferson was among his students. Wythe is buried at St. John's Church Cemetery (as is Edgar Allen Poe's mama). Hollywood Cemetery is permanent home to President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis and 5th U.S. President James Monroe. John Tyler (10th President) is not pictured, but is also buried at Hollywood Cemetery.
The Museum of the Confederacy consists of the two buildings:
1. modern museum building (self-guided tour),
2. the White House of the Confederacy (guided tour).
Add the Haversack Store - details in my shopping tips.
The guided tour of the White House of the Confederacy lasts approx. 30-40 min.
Exhibitions were quite huge, reserve at least the same time for very quick tour around 3 levels or more time if you are especially interested. Add time for visiting the store. So, not less than 1 and half hour is needed.
Mon - Sat 10.00 am - 5.00 pm,
Sun 12.00 am - 5.00 pm
Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
I paid $10 (per person) in Nov. 2004 for entrance to both buildings. Enlarge my picture for more info, please.
Should be free but I paid $4. Details in my Warnings Or Dangers tip.
Visit the White House of the Federacy. 1201 E Clay street. (corner of 12th and Clay St). 804.649.1861 - Monday to Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12AM-5PM. Price : 8$, student : 5$
Fondest memory: Built in 1818, the house was the mansion of the President Jefferson Davis and his family during the Civil War. It is furnished on 19° Century style. The house itself is pinned up between an hospital and the Museum of the Confederacy. In the small square, there are a marvellous fish at the colours of the Confederacy and a piece of the propeller shaft of the battleship Merimac, famous for its fight against an other battleship : the Monitor.