Twentieth Century Main Street

Main Street’s Evolution

            Main Street is a common street name all over the United States; one is found in almost every city and town. It typically marks a city’s center of economic and business activity, and can be home to government buildings. Throughout American history, however, each Main Street has undergone changes that show its evolution over time. Main Street in Richmond is no stranger to these same changes that took place across the country. Two overarching trends, the growth of businesses and building height, can be seen by tracing the history of First and Merchants National Bank on Main Street, along with a backlash of the historic preservation movement, as Richmonders witness their old city disappear.

Upward expansion was a major trend taking place on Main Streets throughout the country by the middle of the twentieth century. Space on Main Streets throughout the United States was becoming more and more limited due to all of the development and commercialization taking place.[1] Richmond’s Main Street followed this national trend as well. In examining pictures of Main Street from the twentieth century, it is clear how the expansion proceeded. Most of the buildings during the early part of the twentieth century averaged four to five stories in height.[2] But by the 1960s, skyscrapers around the First and Merchant’s Bank included the Ross Building, the Mutual Building, and the Whittet and Shepperson Buildings.[3] Specifically, the First and Merchant’s National Bank building went through its own growth towards the sky. Before it became First and Merchant’s Bank, it was just First National Bank. Its original building on Main Street was only about three stories tall, and lay in the shadow of a much larger thirteen-story building.[4] The bank expanded, however, after it merged with Merchant’s National Bank in 1926. It became large enough that it required the office space contained in an eighteen-story building. [5] Later on in the bank’s history, it would grow large enough to require a building of 500,000 – 600,000 square feet, which equates to about twenty-five to thirty stories.[6] Why, however, did the bank need all of this commercial space to conduct all of its operations? The answer lies in the fact that First and Merchant’s National Bank continually expanded throughout its time in the city of Richmond.

First and Merchant’s National Bank began a series of mergers with other banks in Virginia in 1959. It announced a merger with Savings Bank and Trust Co on January 13, 1959, and later on in that same year it would merge with First National of Ashland on October 15. In 1961, First and Merchants merged with Petersburg Savings and American Trust Company on July 19. It would merge with two more banks, Augusta National Bank of Staunen on April 12, 1962, and the Bank of Chesapeake on January 11, 1966, before announcing its plans to expand its corporate headquarters.[7] Before its last merger in 1966, First and Merchant’s National Bank was already the largest bank in Virginia, and was even known as one of the most solid banking institutions in the nation, according to a headline in the Times Dispatch on April 24, 1965. But this large size also meant that it needed a large corporate headquarters, and so it set out to build one in its home on Main Street in Richmond.

The expansion of the bank further marks another trend taking place on Main Streets throughout the country. Beginning in the 1920s, a trend of corporate chains expanding took place.[8] First and Merchants National Bank is thus in this sense following this trend as it continually expanded, especially during the 1950s. Another portion to this trend on Main Streets throughout the country was that as corporate chains expanded, they were not afraid to “obliterate historic structures” as they proceeded with new construction projects.[9] At the same time that Corporate America was taking over on Main Street in Richmond, a national historical preservation movement was beginning.[10] Thus, as First and Merchant’s National Bank was planning on destroying a piece of Richmond’s downtown architectural history, the bank’s expansion would not go unprotected.

Like most large projects, the bank’s construction would not come without controversy. The site that the company picked out was contained between 11th and 12th Streets, and even included “about one-third of the adjacent block between 10th and 11th Streets.”[11] This would mean that all of the buildings between these street blocks would be destroyed. For some time there was controversy surrounding the buildings that would be destroyed in these blocks. The buildings were historic, and contained the famous iron fronts that marked an old era in Main Street’s architectural history. Photos reveal people protesting the expansion of the bank in these street blocks, specifically because they did not want to see the historic iron fronts disappear. After much protest, the bank gave in and agreed to preserve the iron fronts. [12] This was a victory for the historic preservation movement in Richmond, but still entire street blocks were destroyed. Images show the buildings boarded up and the wreckage of decades of history in the loss of these buildings. Yet, the bank was victorious in expanding. This marks the same trend that the Times Dispatch notes as being a cycle of change every ten years in the financial district. According to “The Changing Face of East Main Street,” “about every ten years the face of East Main Street undergoes a major face lifting.” In the sixties, it was seeing the construction of the Ross building, and now it would be the construction of the new $22 million bank. [13]

The Times Dispatch was not a fan of First and Merchants National Bank by any means, as it noted as early as 1959 that First and Merchants National Bank had made the old Richmond disappear as it merged with yet another bank. During the merge with Savings Bank and Trust Co, the city went from having nine banks to only eight, and the people were not even given any time to adjust. Instead, old customers of Savings Bank and Trust Co were vying to be the first customers at the new bank.[14] This is culture shock to many old Richmonders who grew up with the bank, and did not like to see the growth of big corporate banks.

Main Street in Richmond follows the typical development pattern of main streets in the United States. During the mid twentieth century, like all other main streets, it was in the process of building towards the sky, due to lack of space elsewhere. It was also falling victim to expanding corporate interests, as it saw the loss of many other smaller banks all merging with First and Merchants National Bank. Main Street in Richmond also saw its own taste of the historical preservation movement, in that people did not want to see the disappearance of their beloved iron fronts. Whether the changes that Main Street underwent can be seen as a destruction of its old character and individual uniqueness, it is undeniable that it is no longer the same street today that it was in the early twentieth century.  Perhaps this just shows the fact that modernization is a fact, and that streets are the first to adapt.


[1] Richard Francaviglia, MainStreet Revisited (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1996), 59-60.

[2] Francaviglia, Main Street Revisited, 3-4.

[3] Photographs of these images are available at the Valentine museum; Ross Building image date October 1965, Mutual Building image date April 1964, Whittet and Shepperson Building image date February 1967; courtesy of the Valentine Richmond History Center

[4] First National Bank Richmond image, 1924; courtesy of the Valentine Richmond History Center

[5] Information on the back of image showing First National Bank, Cook Collection 125; Valentine Richmond History Center

[6] Elliot Cooper, “Bank to Buy Prime Area for Building,” Times-Dispatch, March 19, 1970, F-1.

[7] Freeman File Microfeeches of the Richmond Times Dispatch, FIR-FLO (80)

[8] Francaviglia, Main Street Revisited, 58.

[9] Francaviglia, Main Street Revisited, 58.

[10] Francaviglia, Main Street Revisited, 51.

[11] Elliot Cooper, “Bank to Buy Prime Area for Building,” Times-Dispatch, March 19, 1970, F-1.

[12] Image and information on back of image showing people Picketing the destruction of the iron fronts in front of First and Merchants bank, Valentine Richmond History Center, Aprill 11, 1971

[13] “Changing Face of East Main Street,” Times Dispatch, April 11, 1971

[14] John Gunn, “’Bit of Old Richmond Gone’ As Banks Merge,” Times Dispatch, January 31, 1959, 9

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The Hidden Change on Canal Street

Martin King

The advent of the twentieth century brought change to the streets of Richmond and a renewed livelihood to the city after its destruction in the Civil War.  New technologies and business practices had changed the way the city functioned and grew.  Though Richmond still stood as one of the more advanced cities of the South, its prosperity was not spread equally through its streets.  Canal Street once led the way in Richmond’s industries, serving as the hub for the majority of the city’s imports and exports, but the passing of time eroded much of the street’s success.  Nonetheless, had a traveler whom had not been there for thirty or so years strolled down the street after the turn of the century, they would have recognized little change on the face of Canal Street.    Different business names and signs of the new era would be present, but the overall make up of the street, the buildings themselves and the atmosphere, probably would not appear all that different.  Despite the similarities on the surface, change had struck Canal Street just as much as anywhere else.  The life of Canal Street was without question industry, and during this time, industry changed drastically.  A lumber yard, a mill, and warehouses cluttered the street close to the basin, nearest to the river, while packed residencies and small businesses lined the street as one ventured further from the James River.  While what happened on Canal Street remained fairly constant, the method by which business transpired changed.  Primarily, the failure of the Kanawha Canal during the Civil War and the arrival of railroads in the 1840’s drastically changed the game of logistics for Richmond companies, as well as businesses elsewhere.  The shift in power which occurred over the second half of the nineteenth century shined through at the turn of the century.  In addition, ownership and commerce was changing.  The big three markets for Canal Street, tobacco, grain, and iron, were becoming more globalized and Richmond saw more competition from outside its borders.  Segregation did not appear as suddenly on Canal Street as it did in much of Richmond, but cropped up nonetheless.  The change of Canal Street hid behind a guise of monotony yet penetrated the functions of the street deeply.

While the turn of the century was bringing sweeping transformations to much of the city and the country, Canal Street had two factors that helped it hide behind its visage of old.  Segregation was a new and prominent topic throughout the young nation and sprang up for debate in even the most stalwart regions.  On Canal Street, segregation appeared slowly in sections but did not have a defined barrier.  Before the turn of the century, these divisions were smaller and more scattered; however, a reasonable number of anomalies to the pattern of divisions remained with mixed areas.[1]  After the turn of the century, the divisions between races still survived in much the same fashion, but on a larger scale.[2]  Nevertheless, anomalies to the pattern of barriers between races remained, though less prominent.  Much of the segregation on Canal Street was probably by choice.  The residents of the working class were not wealthy on the average and did not live in nice or large spaces.  As a result, people trended towards living with other people they could associate with in order to gain a sense of familiarity, but this change occurred gradually and no drastic shift emerged.  Furthermore, the buildings themselves saw little change during the time period.[3]  Though they may have changed hands of ownership, warehouses remained warehouses, while small residences did the same.  This too seems expected in such a rough, industrial area of town.  The most one would see with any regularity was a change of use for the same space.  Renovation costs stood prohibitively high for the benefit connected to the reconstruction of a building in such a dirty neighborhood with limited attractions.  Though the street may have appeared to be a replica of its earlier self, if one delves just slightly deeper, it rapidly becomes apparent that this marks the end of monotony for Canal Street.

The story of change on Canal Street is a story of industry and little else, from its function, to its appearance, to its class of inhabitants.  Through the nineteenth century, Canal Street prospered with the success of the Kanawha Canal and similarly fell to its near demise with it when it sent its last shipments in the 1880s.[4]  Commerce ran through its veins.  However, where the Kanawha left off, the railroads picked up the slack for Canal Street.  Along the old tow-paths, railways were laid and put to use as new avenues of trade for Richmond.[5]  Railroads began in the 1830s and by 1880 they had surpassed the canal completely due to its closing, but it wasn’t until past the turn of the century that they began to reach their full potential as the backbone of American goods transports.  Tobacco, iron, and grain served as hot markets of the time and Canal Street controlled a piece of all of them.  Due to its proximity to the railroad, some of which was built on the remains of the canal, the warehouses of Canal Street did not fail with the Kanawha, but fell into the hands of the large enterprise, such as the railroad companies.[6]  With the railroad, resource supply lines blossomed because shipping was no longer hindered by the limits of American waterways.  Railroads bought old warehouses as they vertically integrated and began to control larger portions of commerce in the young nation.  Despite the large advances, companies still needed workers to load the trains and stock the warehouses, workers like those residing further down Canal Street.  Tenants of these packed slums were mostly laborers at the turn of the century.[7] They found work as they could, often at the rail yard and surrounding warehouses.   Their presence served a simple yet imperative role in industry.  The simple movement of goods proved to be the lifeline of commerce and although the industrial revolution was constantly mechanizing, inventions like the grain elevator still needed operators and the need for rail yard attendants continued.  There was no absolute substitute for a hard day’s work by a decent laborer.  The success of the railroads over the canal changed not only the workings of industry and Canal Street, but those who called the street home.

The influence of the railroads hit Canal Street’s markets far beyond the city limits of Richmond.  Canal Street played a role mainly in the large and lucrative businesses of the time, which small famers or businesses had a much harder time competing with as industrialization made them more efficient.  While the railroad spread these industries to consumers all across America, it also brought back the repercussions of the global market.  The fluctuation of flour prices in Chicago now had an immediate effect on the prices in Richmond due to the ability to transport goods more quickly and efficiently.[8]  This new transportation ability brought greater long term stability to the prices of goods across Richmond.  Tobacco, which had previously been grown primarily in the piedmont region due to the extensive network of waterways, was spreading further into the South.  The prerequisites of location for a plantation had become climate and proximity to a rail line, instead of a waterway as railroads expanded the network of shipping lines across the region.  Tobacco more than doubled in production from 1870 to 1900, and again doubled by 1930, due to demand and the ability to transport goods.[9]  Iron production in the States also grew by more than fifty percent in the ten years prior to 1900, and doubled again in the ten years after.[10]  Tredegar Iron works, one of the staples of the industry that resided near Canal Street, had its avenues of shipping greatly expanded.  Freight cars could carry a much higher volume of ore to the furnaces because they did not possess the same weight restrictions that hindered the flat bottom boats of the canal.  While railroads had only been built on a large scale since 1830, by the year 1900, over a quarter million miles of railroad track rested on the soil of the United States of America and canals had become largely obsolete.[11]  The web of connections between cities strengthened greatly with the railroad, and as a result the commercial ties cities shared became ever more important.

The transformation of Canal Street at the turn of the century was covered by a cloak of sameness but ran deeper than the eye could see.  While the buildings and residents remained established, the true pivot point proved to be the shift of power between the Kanawha Canal and the railroad.  Shipping and storage was the main function of the street and livelihood of its workers, but the transition to the railroad effected not only Richmond but trade on a larger scale.  As the nation was growing, so was its demand for goods.  In the mid nineteenth century, Canal Street stood to be the epicenter of trade for the South.  However, with the failure of the canal, Canal Street desperately tried to maintain its grasp on a piece of the prosperity.  Fortunately, the railroads offered the street a second chance as it ventured into the twentieth century as one of the many stops along its lines, no longer unique, but not all forgotten.


[1] Richmond City Directory, 1884, pt. 89.

[2] Richmond City Directory, 1911, pt. 1298.

[3] Digital Sanborn Maps — Splash Page, 1886 pp 7-12, accessed March 25, 2011, http://sanborn.umi.com/. vs comparison with footnote 6.

[4] Wayland Fuller Dunaway, History of the James River and Kanawha Company. (New York: AMS Press, 1969), 29

[5] Ibid, 236.

[6] Digital Sanborn Maps — Splash Page, 1905 pp 12, 92, 91, accessed March 25, 2011, http://sanborn.umi.com/.

[7] Richmond City Directory, 1911, pt. 1298.

[8] William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W.W. Norton, 1991), 105.

[9] Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial times to 1957. (Washington: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1960), 302.

[10] Ibid, 365.

[11] Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial times to 1957. (Washington: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1960), 429.

Posted in Assignment #3

Medical Monopoly: Twentieth Century Expansion of MCV

Shaye Ellis

Final:

In the mid-twentieth century, business and industry in Richmond experienced substantial growth and the city plan became more organized. Businesses with similar purposes clustered together as the layout of the city moved away from isolated and self-sufficient urban neighborhoods towards that of a modern metropolis. The commercial development in the city revealed steady expansion in various industry sectors, including medicine. The Medical College of Virginia, in particular, experienced continuous growth in its enrollment and facilities. As the campus spread, dominating the East end of Clay Street and surrounding blocks, the college’s infrastructure and practices exposed the divisive consequences of the period’s segregation. The success of the institution was far reaching, its early progress included distinct and separate plans for advancing the medical training and treatment of the region’s white and black populations. These needs, along with the region’s growth, prompted the Medical College of Virginia to continue its development and establish a substantial presence that the campus has maintained in the city ever since.

From its inception in 1854, the Medical College of Virginia, MCV, flourished and expanded into an extensive institute for medical care and higher education. MCV constructed and filled numerous buildings throughout the first half of the twentieth century and city directories spanning twenty years of history between 1950 and 1970 document the creeping expansion of the college’s presence in real estate.[i]The photograph showing the construction in 1972 of the new Medical College of Virginia Clinic depicts how the campus stretched out in all directions.

Construction of Medical College of Virginia Clinic, 1972 (Courtesy of The Valentine History Center)

In the foreground, the newest addition is under construction; the MCV West Hospital, built in 1941, towers in the background, and the oldest of the three buildings anchors them in the middle. Residential lots and small shops lingering in the 1950s slowly gave way to vacant plots that filled with parking lots to serve the medical facilities cropping up along the street. With each rising wave of students, staff, and patients, the college administration set its sights on new property, and the land surrounding the burgeoning hospital facilities was highly valued and sought after.  A Richmond Times Dispatch article from August 1950 explains that the college president, Dr. W. T. Sanger, was “authorized to acquire the land by gift, purchase or condemnation.”[ii] By 1953, the college unveiled an extensive “$1,000,000 expansion program west and northwest of its present grounds.”[iii] Among these potential purchases was the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Building at 12th and Clay. For an offer of $150,000, the college hoped to acquire the space for use as a laboratory, as “it would cost too much to convert the building for use as a health and welfare center.”[iv] The Medical College sought to expand even beyond these projects. Under prevalent segregation practices, MCV established a separate nursing school for African Americans to provide them with advanced training and education.

The St. Philip School of Nursing and hospital expanded simultaneously but separately from MCV until racial integration replaced the former segregated medical system. MCV established the school of nursing in 1920 to train nurses who would treat the African American patients at St. Philip Hospital. The hospital, though built to treat the black community in Richmond, was “the most modern type of hospital in Virginia.”[v]

St. Philip Hospital, 1963 (Courtesy of Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections and Archives)

The Medical College held their blacks–only counterpart to the same high standards. Despite the inferior quality and availability of resources for black nursing students, “from its inception, [St. Philip] was on parity with the established white nursing school,”[vi] in terms of the rigor and quality of the education. The initial boom in enrollment made it necessary to move the students from the first floor of St. Philip Hospital to four houses across the street. The student population grew so much that a separate dormitory was warranted, which also housed classroom facilities in the basement because buildings of the African American branch of the Medical College were required to be more multi-functional. Again the arrangement changed as the growing demands of the school and the city made it imperative to expand the St. Philip Hall Dormitory further. Ultimately, “seventy-four bedrooms were added, increasing the capacity to 160.”[vii] The hospital facilities also improved when the “St. Philip Division of Ennion G. Williams Hospital was completed in 1958,” providing ample beds for African American patients seeking medical care. Massive resistance to integration in Virginia encouraged the expansion and continuation of these separate facilities until the slow deterioration of segregation commenced in the region.

The two medical institutions remained distinct until the first signs of integration in 1957. In that year, the MCV School of Nursing accepted its first African American student. Within the next five years, MCV decided to close the St. Philip School for Nursing and officially integrate the student body into the Medical College, and the final graduating class for St. Philip was in 1962.[viii] While this suggests that social perceptions and race relations had evolved, the change was not absolute. Black students were allowed to intern or complete their residency at MCV, but they were not allowed to treat patients in the same space. In fact, in 1963, MCV rejected respected Doctor George C. Branche’s application for a faculty position citing that “the climate was not right for his acceptance.”[ix] The hospital facilities could be shared, but black doctors were prohibited from actually claiming space for their own patients in the same vicinity as whites. Moreover, at that time in the city, there existed only “40 or 50 beds available to patients of black physicians.”[x] Despite the reality that the MCV and St. Philip hospitals had a concrete affiliation, as well as tunnels physically connecting the facilities, the two spaces still represented racial distinctions even though serving the same functions. While segregated building expansion had ceased, social pressures ensured that separate medical practices remained.

The increase in MCV’s capacity and facilities greatly dictated development in the surrounding area as well as the city on a larger scale. In buying up the spaces occupied by other city offices and businesses, the institution single-handedly began to reorganize and structure the city.  The college’s expansion strategy spurred local planning committees to evaluate available space and “three previous surveys said the court and detention center should be built in the downtown area,”[xi] providing a new address for the Health and Welfare Departments as well. These and other relocations along Clay Street and in surrounding neighborhoods provided MCV with sufficient opportunity and space to fill in the gaps. College President, Dr. Sanger, sought as much leeway as possible to expand the campus and wanted to know “how far west the college could go on Marshall, Clay, Leigh and Broad Streets.”[xii]However, the expressway due to be constructed in the city presented an obstacle that could limit the extensive campus, or potentially even divide it.

Medical College of Virginia campus, 1960; view from the Marshall Street viaduct (Courtesy of The Valentine History Center)

Though the City Planning Commission’s design proposal in 1953 was vague on “where, if at all, an expressway would be built in the Medical College area,”[xiii]the 1960s photograph overlooking the MCV campus illustrates that the campus remained in tact despite the introduction of the major roadways. The Medical College campus dominates the view from the smokestacks to the parking garage and reaches all the way back to the dormitories. The city planners did not provide other sections of the region with such a generous berth. Instead MCV, not the city planners, primarily dictated how the surrounding area would change and which buildings would be left standing, as evidenced in the image showing the MCV dormitories as the only structures visible on the skyline. In the midst of construction and change in the Clay Street neighborhood, the MCV campus was untouched.

Clay to Leigh Streets with MCV Dormitories in the background (Courtesy of The Valentine History Center)

The ongoing expansion of the Medical College of Virginia occurred in stages. MCV repurposed old buildings to meet new needs, leveled dated hospitals to make way for modern medical facilities, and stretched and constructed additions to hold the ever-growing numbers the college served. The slow progress towards racial integration also allowed the expansion to become more cohesive and focused, as separate development efforts ceased to be necessary. Undeniably, the steady growth of the Medical College of Virginia had a profound impact on the East boundary of Clay Street and the surrounding neighborhood. While the organization brought tremendous medical facilities and services to the area, the sprawl of its campus changed the character of the community, dwarfing the historically significant buildings that once reigned on the street, including the former White House of the Confederacy.

Construction of Medical College of Virginia parking deck on East Clay Street, 1961 (Courtesy of The Valentine History Center)

Even the tourist sign standing in front of 1961 construction of an MCV parking deck alludes to the prevalence of the campus extending in either direction, and enveloping both landmarks referenced. As MCV’s reputation grew, its capabilities, influence, and revenue-generating opportunities outweighed the organization’s unfavorable impact on the surrounding neighborhood and its historical context. In modernized mid-century Richmond, Clay Street’s transformation from residential to commercial space made sense and money. The Medical College of Virginia continuously used and adapted this area to meet its evolving needs and as a result created a clearly defined function for that portion of the city.


[i] Hill’s Richmond City Directory (Chesterfield and Henrico Counties, Va.) (Richmond: Richmond: John Maddox [etc.], 1950, 1957, 1962, 1970.

[ii] Richmond Times Dispatch, “MCV Acquiring More Ground In Condemnation Proceedings,” August 30, 1950.

[iii] Richmond Times Dispatch, “MCV Moves Closer to Buying Court Building: Price $135,000,” January 27, 1953.

[iv] Richmond Times Dispatch, “MCV Given Expansion ‘Guide’ Lines: Planners Suggest Western Limits,” February 19, 1953.

[v] Bernard Fisher, “St. Philip School of Nursing Marker,” The Historical Marker Database, under “St. Philip Hospital and St. Philip School of Nursing plaque,” accessed April 15, 2011, http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=20721.

[vi] “St. Philip School of Nursing (1920-1962),” in MCV/VCU School of Nursing: A Proud Heritage 100 Years of Nursing Education, ed. Linda Mills (Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University, 1992), 29, accessed April 14, 2011, http://dig.library.vcu.edu/cdm4/index_nur.php?CISOROOT=%2Fnur.

[vii] ibid, 31

[viii] Bonnie V. Winston, “Many Black Traditions Are Victims of Desegregation,” Richmond, VA – News, Business, Virginia Politics, Opinion, Sports, Flying Squirrels Baseball, Entertainment and Weather Reports | Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 9, 2009, under “St. Philip School of Nursing,” accessed April 12, 2011, http://www2.timesdispatch.com/special_section/2009/feb/09/traditions10_20090209-114406-ar-81940/.

[ix] Richmond Times Dispatch, “Negro Doctor Leaves City, Vainly Sought MCV Position,” June 3, 1962.

[x] ibid

[xi] Richmond Times Dispatch, “$135,000 Price Put on Court Building Here,” January 27, 1953, Page 4, Column 2 sec.

[xii] Times Dispatch, “MCV Given Expansion ‘Guide’ Lines”

[xiii] ibid

Posted in Assignment #4

The New (South) Broad Street

Zac Brown

With only three remaining tenants, modern day Broad Street in-between 5th and 6th streets has completed a physical transformation that began in the 1880’s. At the turn of the 19th century Broad Street meant business. Clients converged from all parts of the city via the new streetcar line to purchase anything from tea to jewelry and shoes to groceries.  Even though the civil war had ended almost thirty years earlier, and reconstruction was officially over, from 1891 to 1908 Broad Street between 5th and 6th transformed both physically and racially.  The small section of Broad Street had 28 addresses in 1891; by 1908 that number had gone down to 20 starting the progression towards today, in which a Marriott Hotel overshadows the newly refurbished Miller and Rhoads condominiums and Hyatt Garden Inn on the south side of the street[i]. The businesses that made up those addresses ranged from millineries to dry good stores, while most of their tenants where white, there was an African American presence on Broad Street[ii]. Amidst increased racial tension throughout Richmond, the number of African American businesses and residents on Broad street dropped greatly from 1891 to 1908. From 1891 to 1908 Broad Street between 5th and 6th streets simplified both physically and racially through a decrease in tenants and African Americans.

After the Knights of Labor hosted the largest mixed racial political party convention in Richmond in 1886, the city became an increasingly segregated community for the next 30 years and Broad Street followed suit[iii]. In 1891 there were eight African Americans on Broad between fifth and sixth streets, with two owning their own buildings. William H Tatum rented the area above his grocery store to two African Americans and Cornelius D Kenny housed three African Americans over his tea and coffee shop[iv].  Society changed greatly over the next 20 years and by 1908 there were only two African Americans living on the street on top of the black owned Negro Development Corporation[v]. The Richmond Planet, Richmond’s largest African American newspaper, only mentioned the Negro Development Corporation one time from 1883-1938 on August 18, 1906 because they attended a conference about creating a Negro memorial in Jamestown[vi]. Proving the lack of importance the organization had on the Black community. Having only one address in which African Americans resided on the block in 1908 exemplifies the increasing segregation that occurred throughout Richmond at the turn of the century.

Richmond transformed into a city entrenched in segregation at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1890’s defining neighborhoods based on race was near impossible as laborers and artisans would often work together and cross paths[vii]. Yet as African American political standing grew after emancipation, black hysteria became ramped throughout the white community, reminding blacks of their political inferiority. The banning of political meetings in black churches limited African Americans ability to organize and the implementation of poll taxes and other voting measures disenfranchised many African American voters[viii]. The African American community did not just sit idly by through the increased racialization, staging massive emancipation day parades and protests as a statement to Confederates who mourn that day as the loss of the confederacy and the burning of Richmond.

African Americans march down Broad Street on Emancipation Day in 1905. Courtesy VCU Library

Many of the parades, including one of the biggest put on by the Knights of Pythias in 1903, went from Black neighborhood to black neighborhood crossing through white neighborhoods and heading right down Broad Street[ix].  The parades were intentionally staged going right through the areas white people needed to buy things from because it would make the greatest impact. While members of the African American community celebrated emancipation day as a holiday of freedom, many Richmonders viewed it as the day the city was burned and the confederacy lost the war. The increased racial tension brought with it a great deal of segregation resulting in many African Americans leaving Broad Street and white landowners no longer renting to them. While the racial makeup of Broad Street changed from 1891-1908, the infrastructure and physical makeup of the block transformed at a similarly staggering rate.

With the influx of big business, many small businesses were pushed off of Broad Street, Richmond’s main retail hub of Richmond in the early 20th century. In 1891 there were 28 addresses between 5th and 6th streets on Broad, but as time passed the businesses of Broad Street became more established and were able to expand, limiting the amount of tenants to 25 in 1898 and 20 in 1908. Tenants would come from all over the city and even Baltimore, Maryland to open up shop on Broad Street and by 1908 none of the tenants lived in their businesses[x]. White tenants made the commute from the newly built suburbs in response to growing black hysteria, but it was only possible because of America’s first electric streetcar line, built in 1888[xi].  This new form of transportation allowed wealthy businessmen to live in what they believed to be safer suburbs, away from African Americans, while keeping their business in the heart of thriving downtown Richmond. One of those big businesses opened its doors in 1885 and changed the landscape of Richmond forever.

The original Miller & Rhoads building in 1885. Courtesy http://xroads.virginia.edu/

When Linton Miller, Webster Rhoads and Simon Gerhart invested in a small plot on Broad Street in 1885 and opened Miller, Rhoads and Gerhart, a dry goods store at 509 E Broad Street, they began the consolidation of businesses on Broad Street that remains evident today. By 1898 the store took up three addresses from 509 to 513 and with Simon Gerhart’s move to Lynchburg the business was renamed Miller & Rhoads, a name that would resonate with Richmonders for decades to come. In 1909 the business took up most of the block and by 1920 the store had expanded to Grace Street to the South, absorbing almost a whole city block. Miller & Rhoads not only transformed the geography of Broad Street, but the shopping experience for Richmonders. By instating a “one price” system they removed bartering from shopping and allowed customers to walk freely without fearing being pressured or haggled[xii]. Throughout its history, Miller & Rhoads also became involved in the Richmond community, they supported the arts through their large contributions to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and cultural events like the Tobacco Festival and Jamestown 350th anniversary celebration[xiii]. The store’s legacy continued throughout the 20th century, opening suburban branches to aid whites who fled the city in the 1920’s and expanded as far south as North Carolina, until it finally shut its doors in 1990.  When three businessmen opened a seemingly irrelevant dry goods store on Broad street in 1885 they not only marked the beginning of an empire, but a transformation of the block and neighborhood in which it was apart of.

At the turn of the 20th century Broad Street redefined itself racially and economically alongside the rest of greater Richmond. The city emerged as a stronghold for racism and segregation once again after an era in which many African Americans had political power in the late 1800’s. Broad Street between 5th and 6th Streets emerged as a center for white commerce through the changing practices of business like Cornelius D Kenny’s tea and coffee shop and the practical disappearance of African Americans on the street. And it 1885 when three men opened a dry goods store, the economic identity of Broad Street would never be the same again. The Miller & Rhoads dry goods store represents the disappearance of small businesses that began upon their arrival in 1885 and remains evident today with only three remaining buildings on the street. Through the electric streetcar line and increasing economic stability for white business owners Broad Street became a hub for big business allowing residents of the new suburbs to come into the city either as workers or shoppers to enjoy a day in the city before retreating to the white suburbs. Broad Street between 5th and 6th transformed into the hub of big business and represents a microcosm for the increased racialization that occurred throughout Richmond, Virginia at the turn of the 20th century.


[i] Richmond City Directory 1891,1898, 1908,

[ii] Richmond City Directory 1891

[iii] Miner, Claudia, “The 1886 Convention of the Knights of Labor,” Phylon. 44. 2 (1983): 149, accessed March 21, 2011 http://www.jstor.org/stable/275026

[iv] Richmond City Directory 1891

[v] Richmond City Directory 1908

[vi]“The Jamestown Exposition”. Richmond Planet, August 18, 1906, accessed March 19, 2011 http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84025841/1906-08-18/ed-1/seq-1/;words=Development+Negro

[vii] Elsa Barkley Brown and Gregg D. Kimball, “Mapping the Terrain of Black Richmond,” Journal of Urban History 21 (1995): 325-326, accessed March 19, 2011 http://felix.richmond.edu/cgi-bin/Pscandoc.cgi?app=2&folder=18408&doc=1

[viii] Brown and Kimball, “Mapping the Terrain of Black Richmond,” 313

[ix] Brown and Kimball, “Mapping the Terrain of Black Richmond,” 313

[x] Richmond City Directory 1891, 1898, 1908

[xi] “Miller and Rhoads’ Consumer Community,” http://xroads.virginia.edu/~class/am485_98/pontius/MR/consumer.html

[xii] Rhoads, Webster, Jr. Miller & Rhoads: Seventy-five Years of Growth. New York: Newcomen Society, 1960

[xiii] Earle Dunford and George Bryson, Under the Clock: The Story of Miller & Rhoads (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2008) 78-80

Posted in Uncategorized

Marshall Street: We Mean Business

Marshall Street completely changed its identity in the mid-twentieth century.  Up to this point, the street was almost exclusively residential, but from the 1920’s and onward the street changed considerably.  Marshall Street acted as home to business development, including the construction of education and government buildings and the opening of parking decks, as the three pictures from the Valentine Richmond History Center show.  The expansion of Richmond’s business district to Marshall Street profoundly impacted the street’s architectural structures, as well as the way people used the area.

The Broad Street Commercial Historic District was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.  The boundaries for the Historic District extended to Marshall Street on the North, and include the portion of Broad Street from Belvidere Street to 4th Street. Unlike the rest of Broad Street, this district was initially heavily residential.  Sanborn maps and Richmond city directories in the early twentieth century reveal just a few businesses in the area.[1]

Over time, however, The Historic District’s role in Richmond changed dramatically.  Whereas the 1905 Sanborn map shows a residential neighborhood, the 1924 map displays a completely commercial space.  Houses were replaced by shops, restaurants, and specialty stores.  Entrepreneurs nationwide enjoyed success through this model, but the dramatic decrease in housing availability created a shortage.[2]  Displaced city dwellers needed a place to go, and an attractive option emerged.  As part of this new center of commercial activity,[3] Marshall Street could not help but undergo business development.

The concept of suburbia was played up by popular culture, industry, and government alike.  This promotion began during World War II, when advertisements in women’s magazines detailed the possibility for a dream house to share with their returning loved ones that would allow life to resume again, as normal.[4]  The American Dream was altered to include the acquisition of a suburban house and a car.  When the economy boomed after the war’s end, Americans could afford this lifestyle.  Since people were content, businesses faced no pressures to halt expansion, and as a result business districts continued to grow.[5]

Since the Broad Street Historic District, and more specifically Marshall Street, was now a commercial area, workers needed to drive to work, and a place to park when they reached the city.  Richmond adjusted to fix this problem just as the rest of America did; new construction.  By the early 1960s, more than fifty percent of some urban business districts were devoted to streets and parking spaces, a statistic that does not take into account the gas stations, car dealerships, or auto supply stores that littered the streets.[6]  In 1965, a large parking deck was opened on Marshall Street, between 6th and 7th Streets.[7]  Open-air, concrete garages identical to the deck on Marshall Street became commonplace nationwide, as the convenience of a self-park area dawned on city developers.[8]  The garage on Marshall Street was just two blocks from the boundary of the Broad Street Commercial Historic District, which acted as the center of Richmond’s commercial activity.  This was an easy walk for suburbanites who worked in the city.

Business districts traditionally focused on retail endeavors, but in the 1950s more commercial enterprises and office spaces were constructed.[9]  In 1961, the Medical College of Virginia began construction on its new School of Medicine, which opened at the corner of 12th and Marshall Streets in 1963.[10]  The school housed headquarters for faculty, offices for departments and administrators, and laboratories.[11]  There are many reasons why an urban university improves its city.  Public service programs connect the university to the community, neighborhood amenities are developed, richer people move to the area, the local economy is improved due to resident employee programs, and the school’s presence motivates urban youth to succeed in the classroom.[12] Additionally, the expenses of staff and students in the community provide a great influx of money.[13]  There were no universities on Marshall Street when it was a residential area; its new role as a center for economic activity persuaded the Medical College of Virginia to construct a school in the area.

Construction for a new city hall in Richmond began in the late 1960s.[14]  The decision to move from the beloved Old City Hall was made to modernize the government building, both in structure and in location.[15]  The official address for the current city hall is 900 Broad Street, but its back door, an official entrance to the building, opens up to Marshall Street.  When the building was considered too outdated for an official government building, city planners aimed to move it downtown.  It is very common to have to house government offices in or near business districts, and in moving to Broad Street between 9th and 10th Streets, this was achieved.

One block from Broad Street, two blocks from the Old City Hall; Marshall Street appeared to be the perfect place for business to expand.  The street stayed residential for a long time, but eventually entrepreneurs seized the chance to develop on Marshall.  Photographs from the Valentine Richmond History Center show the construction of a parking garage, a building of the Medical College of Virginia, and a new city hall on the street, all within a couple of years.  Marshall Street responded to the needs of Richmonders in the twentieth century, and as a result it underwent great economic development.


[1] Gombach, Julia. “Broad Street Commercial Historic District, Richmond City, Independent Cities, Richmond VA 23220.” Residential Neighborhoods, Subdivisions and Historic Districts. 2010. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.livingplaces.com/VA/Independent_Cities/Richmond_City/Broad_Street_Commercial_Historic_District.html.

[2] Kenney, Kim. “Suburbanization in the 1950s: Glamorizing Suburbia in Popular Culture.” Suite101.com: Online Magazine and Writers’ Network. December 18, 2008. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.suite101.com/content/suburbanization-in-the-1950s-a85087.

[3]  “Richmond: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.” U.S. National Park Service – Experience Your America. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/richmond/BroadStHD.html.

[4] Kenney, Kim. “Suburbanization in the 1950s: Glamorizing Suburbia in Popular Culture.” Suite101.com: Online Magazine and Writers’ Network. December 18, 2008. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.suite101.com/content/suburbanization-in-the-1950s-a85087.

[5] Rosenberg, Matt. “CBD – An Overview of the CBD or Central Business District.” Geography Home Page – Geography at About.com. 2011. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/cbd.htm.

[6] Melosi, Martin V. “Automobile and the Environment in American History: The Automobile’s Imprint on the Landscape.” Automobile in American Life and Society. 2010. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Environment/E_Overview/E_Overview6.htm.

[7] V.66.10.201. November 21, 1965. Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond.

[8] Swope, Christopher. “The Fascinating History of Parking.” GOVERNING: State Government News on Politics, Management & Finance. December 2009. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.governing.com/columns/urban-notebook/The-Fascinating-History-of.html.

[9] Rosenberg, Matt. “CBD – An Overview of the CBD or Central Business District.” Geography Home Page – Geography at About.com. 2011. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/cbd.htm.

[10] V.62.109.79. November 9, 1961. Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond.

[11] The First 125 Years of the Medical College of Virginia. Richmond, VA: Medical College of Virginia, 1963.

[12] Hampton, George, and David Higham. “The Impact of an Urban University on Community Development.” June 1999. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.umdnj.edu/comreweb/pdf/The_Impact_of_an_Urban%20University.PDF.

[13] Steinacker, Annette. “The Economic Effect of Urban Colleges on Their Surrounding Communities.” September 2004. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.cgu.edu/include/spe/Urban%20Studies%20–%20university%20impact.pdf.

[14] FIC.033222. April 25, 1968. Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond.

[15] Rice, Tonya. “Richmond’s Old City Hall – The Story Behind the Construction – Richmond Landmarks & Historic Districts | Examiner.com.” Washington DC News, Washington DC Information, Washington DC Events – Examiner.com | Examiner.com. September 22, 2010. Accessed April 17, 2011. http://www.examiner.com/landmarks-historic-districts-in-richmond/richmond-s-old-city-hall-the-story-behind-the-construction.

Posted in Assignment #4

Marshall in the “New” South

Many wealthy, white Richmonders lived on Marshall Street.  Just a block away from the excitement of Broad Street, people considered Marshall Street a convenient place to live.  The Civil War and ensuing emancipation caused many neighboring streets to undergo change, particularly the streets to the northeast.[1]  Yet forty years after the war, remarkably little had changed in terms of racial integration on Marshall.  Even into the twentieth century, Marshall Street remained racially segregated, and showed no sign of infrastructural improvement.  This lack of change highlighted the racial tensions that existed in Richmond, even as the city tried to put its past behind.

People had high hopes for the prospects of the New South, but on Marshall Street in Richmond, racism still ran rampant.  In fact, new kinds of racial tensions formed.  Before the Civil War, whites and blacks were accustomed to living together; blacks as slaves, and whites as slaveholders.  Yet after emancipation, this did not happen.  Segregation felt unusual for both races, and its prevalence on New South Marshall Street increased problems between the two cultures.  Even after the turn of the century, forty years after the end of the war, Marshall Street remained remarkably homogeneous.  In 1884, there were no more than a handful of “colored” people on any block all of the way down Marshall Street[2].  In 1911, almost twenty years later, the street was no more diverse.

Rather than integrate the white neighborhood, blacks did not move onto Marshall Street after the Civil War.  Centuries of bondage made it impossible for racial tensions to disappear.  The ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 declared that “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites were legal[3]. Such establishments evolved unofficially before this ruling, but the decision removed the necessity for integration.  Blacks would supposedly have equal facilities, and desegregation could result in violence that would make the reward smaller than the inherent risk.  Thus Marshall Street was occupied almost exclusively by whites into the twentieth century.

Not only did racial integration remain on Marshall Street, but the infrastructure barely changed, as well.  In the eighteenth century, wealthy Richmonders created “plantations-in-town,” which were city blocks or squares that housed a family’s living quarters, gardens, and other possessions.[4]  Ownership of such a space conveyed prestige, and such estates helped Marshall Street establish a reputation of elegance.  The block between Adams Street and 1st Street provides an accurate snapshot for the rest of the street.  The Sanborn map of this block from 1886 shows just one house facing the back alley that provides a boundary for the houses on Marshall Street[5].  The properties likely stretched all of the way back to the alley, with sheds and other small structures.  These “plantations-in-town” were still commanding Marshall Street, and the same rich citizens owned them.

The 1905 map of the block shows a very similar area.  The city directories tell that the block was populated by the same of whites as it was in 1884[6].  In terms of infrastructure, the block remained the same as well.  A lumber yard changed ownership from the Foster family to P.H. Bruner, but the structures at the yard remained the same.  The dwellings maintained the same size and shape, and no additional housing was built on the other side of the block.  Without the knowledge that the maps were twenty years apart, there would be no way of knowing that the pictures showed anything different.

Marshall Street in the New South was not very new at all.  Existing racial boundaries remained, as the street maintained its reputation for housing wealthy white Richmonders.  Infrastructure did not change either, as the old “plantations-in-town” still existed just as they did in the eighteenth century.  As the South changed throughout Reconstruction and beyond, Marshall Street remained backwards, lagging behind in the development of a new nation.


[1] Speech, Mapping American History: Presentations, VA, Richmond, April 25, 2011.

[2] Hill’s Richmond City Directory (Chesterfield and Henrico Counties, VA.).  John Maddox. 1884.

[3] Lisa Cozzens, “After the Civil War: Plessy v. Ferguson,” http://Www.watson.org, September 1999, 17, accessed March 2011, http://www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/post-civilwar/plessy.html.

[4] “The House’s History–John Marshall House,” Home — Preservation Virginia, accessed March 2011, http://www.preservationvirginia.org/marshall/house/.

[5] “Digital Sanborn Maps, 1886. Virginia,” map (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Bell & Howell Information and Learning, 2001).

[6] Hill’s Richmond City Directory (Chesterfield and Henrico Counties, VA.).  John Maddox.

Posted in Assignment #3

Marshall Street: Richmond’s Home

Zack Francis

Home is more than just a physical location; it gives identity to the people who inhabit the space.  People live in a community is because it provides a sense of belonging which can only be attained through a strong sentiment of this idea of home.  A home is expected to remain constant; no matter how much one changes over a certain period of time, he or she is expected to be able to come home and feel restored to his or her roots.  During the Civil War in Richmond, however, people did not have the ability to feel the unfailing sentiment of home.  From individual houses being sold or converted into other establishments, neighborhoods changing their appearance and the people living in them changing their principles; the Civil War changed Richmond in a way that nothing else could.  Marshall Street is just one street in the city that underwent change, but it is an example of an area whose changes coincided with those of other locations both city- and nationwide.

Marshall Street was a largely residential street in nineteenth-century Richmond.  Its convenient location, just one block from Broad Street, made the street a very pleasant place to live.  As the war went on, Marshall Street saw some change; a military recruitment office was built, and a masonic lodge was used regularly.  There was a school that struggled to stay open during the war years.  However, its foremost responsibility remained to house prominent Richmonders.  During the five years of the war, many wealthy citizens used their power to purchase substitute soldiers, a maneuver which would allow the rich to avoid the hardships of war.  Marshall Street served as a meeting place for many different militia units whose members likely lived in the area.  The street was also the location of many funerals, as soldiers and civilians alike would be sent away from their original places of residence.[1]

There was a large spike in the discussion of military recruitment in Richmond between February and April of 1862.  This trend is also evident in data compiled about Marshall Street; this three-month period includes more mentions about the military than any other quarter-year during the war.  Many of the advertisements referencing Marshall Street were for new recruits.[2]  This makes sense when compared with a timeline of the Civil War.  On January 27th, 1862, President Lincoln issued a war order to launch a powerful attack against Richmond, in order to capture the capital of Richmond[3].  The largest number of mentions of military involvement on Marshall Street occurred in the month of April, 1862: fourteen.  This is compared to four in the previous two months combined and just one reference at any point in the following eight months[4].  The Peninsula Campaign likely caused the increase in discussion of military involvement.  President Lincoln designed the battle plan specifically to capture Richmond, a realization that mobilized the citizens of the city.  Beginning on the seventh day of the month, the Dispatch ran articles twelve of the next thirteen days calling “Patriots” to assemble at Marshall Street in order to enlist, knowing that Richmond men were too proud not to defend their hometown.[5]

Another example that shows the meaning of “home” is found in the data of runaway slaves.  In April of 1861, there were fourteen mentions of runaways on Marshall Street in the Richmond Daily Dispatch.  The next highest total in any single month is five mentions in February 1865, so clearly the topic was unusually popular at that time[6].  This excitement coincided with the events of the Civil War that were happening simultaneously.  In April 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union[7].  When slaves heard the news, they began to dream of a new home, concurrently losing their connection to their owners and the city of Richmond as a whole.  References to slave runaways on Marshall Street essentially ceased to exist during the months of the war, appearing in the newspaper in just four of the forty-five months between April 1861 and February 1865[8].  This can be explained through a strong sense of home; the slaves who were miserable had fled Marshall Street after Virginia seceded, and those who were content or had missed the opportunity did not have a good chance to run away during the war, when Richmond lay firmly under rebel hands.  This sentiment carried into 1865, when Union soldiers approached Richmond.  This allowed slaves another chance to consider their futures.  The Emancipation Proclamation had officially made them free, but the data tells us that very few slaves on Marshall Street took advantage of that fact and fled their masters[9].

In the early months of 1865, the war was clearly going the Union’s way, and their army rested just miles from Richmond at Petersburg[10].  As Union victory became more certain, the slaves realized that they must begin to plan for their future freedom.  They allowed themselves the chance to start this exciting journey a couple of months early.  Another reason the slaves fled at this time was an order from General Grant.  In an effort to ensure that the Confederate army did not have enough resources to continue the war effort, the Union general ordered his troops to seize “all the Negro men before the enemy can put them in their ranks”[11].  Slaves on Marshall St. presumably heard of this order and knew that if they could escape the short distance to Petersburg, they would be free; this was a golden opportunity to leave their old home and begin their journey as freedmen.

This was not the first time that Richmonders began to feel detached from their home.  Spirits for the war were high at its outset, but as the fighting dragged on resources were increasingly used for the war effort at the expense of the civilian population.  Coupled with inflation and a Union blockade on Southern ports, Confederate citizens faced tough times[12].  Faced with such hardships, sentiments of home began to disappear on Marshall Street, as people were forced to look out for their own interests over the welfare of the nation.  Starting in December of 1863, mentions of crime on Marshall Street in the Richmond Daily Dispatch increased tremendously[13].  An article describing four different crimes in the December 19th, 1863 volume of the Daily Dispatch writes that “Burglars seem to be operating with great success at this particular time”[14].  High arrest totals on Marshall Street continued well into 1864, and the people of Marshall Street added fear of crime to a long list of concerns at the time; they could not feel at home when their safety was constantly in jeopardy[15].

People looking for a home did not come to Marshall Street in Richmond during the Civil War.  Real estate sales on Marshall Street, in particular, fluctuated greatly over the five years of the war.  In November of 1860, there were 30 articles about the subject; in every month of the war combined, there were just 39 mentions of real estate possibilities on Marshall Street, and very few at the end of the war[16].  At the beginning of the war, Richmond was a small city with a lot happening; it was a great place to start a family.  Just five years later, the city lay in ruins, the economy was destroyed, and the morale of the people was devastated.  Richmond, and Marshall Street in particular, changed from being home to being a place from which people escaped.

Marshall Street was home to many Richmonders during the Civil War.  At many points from 1861 to 1865, the street could not satisfy its residents’ desire for a stable atmosphere; an increase in slave runaways, increase in crime, and a dramatic decrease in real estate sales display the fear that Marshall Street was not a safe environment into which to move.  The very common mention of military recruitment/action shows that people may have been proud of their home, but overall the street followed the trends that the city, as well as the nation followed; when the war started, people everywhere were eager to defend their homes, but as the years dragged on it became tough to remain loyal to home over watching out for one’s own individual interests.


[1] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[2] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[3] Freeman, Joanne. “Time Line of The Civil War, 1862.” Library of Congress. Accessed February

10, 2011. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/tl1862.html

[4] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[5] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[6] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[7] Freeman, Joanne. “Time Line of The Civil War, 1862.” Library of Congress. Accessed February

10, 2011. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/tl1862.html

[8] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[9] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[10] Freeman, Joanne. “Time Line of The Civil War, 1862.” Library of Congress. Accessed February

10, 2011. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/tl1862.html

[11] Kelley, Michael. “On Black Confederates.” 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell’s), CSA. 1996-2007. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://www.37thtexas.org/html/BlkHist.html.

[12] “Bread Riot in Richmond, 1863.” EyeWitness to History – History through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/breadriot.htm.

[13] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[14] “House-breaking.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr;cc=ddr;type=simple;rgn=div3;q1=marshall st*;view=text;subview=detail;sort=occur;idno=ddr0971.0025.143;node=ddr0971.0025.143%3A5.1.3.

[15] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

[16] “Search Results- Marshall St*.” Richmond Daily Dispatch. Accessed February 13, 2011. http://imls.richmond.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ddr&cc=ddr&type=simple&rgn=full+text&q1=marshall%20st*.

Posted in Uncategorized