Our Beginnings

cropped-postcard.jpgPeople widely believe that Grace Street had its name changed because of the number of churches present by 1844. Prior to that time, it was known simply as “G” Street, following the early lettering system of city streets.  By the end of the 19th century, there were eight churches on Grace Street, adding to its architectural character.  (http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/richmond/GraceHD.html)

Originally situated in Henrico County, the area between Monroe Park and a line immediately west of North Lombardy Street was annexed by the city of Richmond in 1867. The area thereafter became progressively more attractive to residents and
developers mainly because of the increasing availability of public transportation, water and sewer lines, and public parks. Soon after the 1870’s, handsome blocks of brick rowhouses began to appear–first around Monroe Park and later along extensions of Grace and Franklin streets, and Park, Grove, and Floyd avenues.  (http://fanofthefan.com/2012/01/the-fan-area-historic-district/)

Dubbed “Richmond’s Fifth Avenue,” Grace Street became the site of more than 70 new retail shops and office buildings between 1920 and 1930, many in an Art Deco-influenced style. The stock market crash of 1929 ended this unprecedented building boom, marking an end to the exuberant, fanciful storefronts built along Grace Street.(http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/richmond/GraceHD.html)

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 in Boston, but he considered Richmond his home, and called himself “a Virginian.” It was in Richmond that Poe grew up, married, and first gained a national literary reputation. Poe adopted the middle name “Allan” from
Talaverathe Richmond family who took him in as a toddler, after his actress mother’s untimely death (she is buried in the churchyard of St. John’s Episcopal Church).  Many of the places in Richmond associated with Poe have been lost, but several still remain- including the home of the Tally family who lived at Talavera at 2315 West Grace Street, which is privately owned. Tradition says that it was at Talavera that Poe gave his last reading of “The Raven” on September 25, 1849. Two days later, Poe left Richmond for the last time. He died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849. (https://www.poemuseum.org/life-richmond.php)

In 1840 Richmond College’s first campus was located on the grounds of an old mansion once owned by the Haxall family, who owned the largest milling operation in Virginia. The mansion, named “Columbia,” stands to this day at the 1100grace copycorner of Grace and Lombardy Streets.  The College ceased operations during the Civil War, losing one fifth of the alumni and many members of the faculty and student body in battle.  Eventually, the campus was used as a camp by the Union Army.  After 1914 when Richmond College moved from its original setting bounded by Ryland, Broad, N. Lombardy, and W. Franklin streets, West Grace Street was extended through the grounds and most of the former academic buildings were demolished.  (http://rc.richmond.edu/about/history.html and http://fanofthefan.com/2012/01/the-fan-area-historic-district/)

An examination of the Richmond City Directories of the period between 1910 to 1920, confirms the middle-class development of the Fan Area, south of Monument Avenue. While Monument, and to a lesser extent, West Grace Street boasted presidents and owners of the city’s major corporations and stores among its residents, the streets lying to the south of Monument included teachers, clerks, secretaries, insurance agents, book keepers, salesmen and laborers as residents.   (http://fanofthefan.com/2012/01/the-fan-area-historic-district/)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.