The Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. † Adaptation copyright © 2007, The Gombach Group.
The Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District is located in the city of Richmond, Virginia, on the south side of the James River. It is linked to the central business district by the Lee, Mayo and Manchester bridges. Situated on a rise three blocks above the south bank of the James River, the district encompasses a significant concentration of mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, residential and commercial buildings from the former city of Manchester. Manchester began as an English settlement after 1609, and later became a port for the tobacco trade. In the 1800's, Manchester along with Richmond, had become a major port and commercial center serving the eastern seaboard and beyond. Manchester was granted city status in 1874, thus becoming the seat of Chesterfield County. In 1910, Manchester was consolidated into the city of Richmond. The Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District is generally bounded by Hull Street on the south; Commerce Road on the east and Cowardin Avenue on the west. Hull Street is devoted primarily to commercial and governmental buildings. Bainbridge, Porter and Perry streets, parallel to and north of Hull Street are devoted primarily to residential buildings with a number of historic churches and schools. The district contains 248 buildings, one of which--the Manchester Courthouse--is already listed in the National Register and thirty-three of which are noncontributing. The district's architecture is impressive for its variety of late nineteenth and early-twentieth-century building types and styles.
Although Manchester's history dates to the Colonial period and earlier, most of the buildings in the district are from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The development of Manchester in the early-eighteenth century was primarily along the James River and Manchester Canal--included in the Manchester Industrial Historic District (NRHP). From the early-eighteenth century until the late-nineteenth century, Manchester's growth spread to the south and west in the form of scattered, frame, residential and commercial structures. These early buildings were replaced in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries by more substantial commercial and residential buildings.
1790 to 1860
Prior to 1790, Manchester's development was primarily influenced by its setting on the south bank of the James River across from Richmond. The tobacco trade was the industry that built Manchester. A 1781 map entitled "A Skirmish at Richmond and recorded by a British officer in his journal shows warehouses, cleared roads and cultivated fields in Manchester. The Micajah Bates Map of 1835 clearly delineates Manchester's street grid, including the historic district, as it extended south from the James River, and the building development along the grid. Within the district there are four significant buildings that were built before the Civil War.
The earliest building in the district is the Archibald Freeland House, 1015 Bainbridge Street. The house, built before 1797 is a two-story, red brick, Georgian-style dwelling with a raised basement and a molded brick water table. The building features Flemish bond brickwork, four large chimneys, and a hipped roof. An interesting feature of the house is the keystones in the jack arches that are made of bricks set in relief and not covered with plaster. A Victorian era porch has been added across the facade of the house, replacing the original two-story porch depicted on a 1803 Mutual Assurance policy. Another surviving Georgian-style dwelling is the Dr. Thomas D. Jones House, 115 West 12th Street. It was built, prior to 1811, by Thomas Treadway. Dr. Jones, a well-known Manchester physician, purchased the house in 1912. The two-story dwelling with a raised basement and a molded brick water table is constructed of brick laid in a Flemish bond pattern. It features plastered brick jack arches with keystones at the openings. A major yellow brick addition of was built in 1897.
Greek Revival Churches and Dwellings
Bainbridge Baptist Church, 1101 Bainbridge Street, completed in 1857, is a Greek Revival-style, brick, two-story structure with a raised basement. The three-bay, front portico has two-story, Ionic columns that support an Ionic entablature. The tympanum is decorated with a cartouche and garlands. The columns are set on pedestals that rise from the steps leading to the portico. The main body of the church is divided into three-bays by pilasters and covered with a pedimented-front gable roof. There are three entries, paired doors with transoms above, leading to the sanctuary. Pilasters also define the six-bay sides with stained glass windows at each bay. The church was remodeled and modernized in 1901. Built prior to 1859, the Turner-Baldwin House. 1209 Porter Street, is a two-story, red brick, Greek Revival-style residence with a raised basement. The house also displays some early Italianate influences in the floor-to-ceiling windows in the first story and the paneled frieze. A one-story, three-bay wide, Classical Revival-style porch with Ionic columns, modillions and a turned baluster railing has been added to the house. The builder of the house and its exact date of construction are unknown, but in November 1859 the property was sold to Esther Lazendre, a free black woman, to be held in trust by her son Solomon Turner. According to the deed, Esther Lazendre had resided in the house for a number of years. By 1902, the residence was the property of Alma Baldwin. The John B.Anderson House, 12-14 East 12th Street, built prior to 1860, is a 1 1/2-story frame dwelling. The house is one-room deep with one-story additions at the side and rear. There are two large central chimneys and two wall dormers in the steeply pitched gable roof. The house sits on a lot most closely associated with Farmer's Tavern an early hostelry built on Hull Street in the late eighteenth century and demolished around 1913. The Anderson House is a surviving example of the frame buildings once found scattered throughout Manchester.
1861 to 1865
There are no buildings remaining in the district that were built during the turbulent years of the Civil War. Manchester, because of its proximity to Richmond, its industrial base, and its transportation links became consumed in the conflict. On August 9, 1862, Harpers Weekly published a map of Richmond and Manchester, from a drawing by a refugee just escaped from "Secessia." This map clearly illustrates Manchester's street grid with its connections to Richmond and the surrounding county. An 1865 Confederate Engineers' map of Manchester illustrates building development along the town's street grid as well as the fortifications protecting Richmond and Manchester. The nearby Confederate Naval Yard, railroads, Mayo's Bridge and roads connecting Manchester with Richmond illustrate the importance of Manchester's location in this period. Richmond, north of the river, was burned at the end of the War. The bridges crossing the James River to Manchester were also burned by the retreating Confederate Army, this may have contributed to the survival of buildings in Manchester. A map published by the Richmond Whig newspaper shows the burned district after the evacuation fire of 1865.
1866 to 1917
The majority of buildings that remain in the historic district were constructed between 1866 and 1917. Recovery and reconstruction in the years following the Civil War came slowly. The 1876 Beer's Atlas of Manchester shows the limited development of scattered residential buildings along Bainbridge, Porter and Perry Streets. Residential and commercial buildings fronted Hull Street. An isometric drawing illustrates the local style of the scattered one and two-story frame buildings, most common in 1869. By 1874, Manchester's population had reached 3,207 citizens, increasing to 5,729 in 1880. Flour from Manchester's mills was widely exported, with business from railroads, shipping and manufacturing moving the economy. This new prosperity generated the bulk of development that remains in the historic district today. The Sanborn Maps of 1895, 1905 and 1910 illustrate the development of buildings that replaced the older scattered structures and infilled open lots to create the dense urban neighborhood visible today.
Along Bainbridge, Porter, Perry and the numbered cross streets, residences are the predominant building type with a few scattered schools and churches. Hull Street is dominated by commercial buildings. Churches are the dominant building type on Cowardin Avenue and Decatur Street. The residential structures are primarily detached, wood dwellings with Italianate and Queen Anne being the favored architectural styles. The commercial buildings are primarily attached, brick structures constructed in the Italianate, Colonial Revival and commercial vernacular-styles of architecture. The churches and schools are detached structures and brick is the most common building material. Gothic Revival and Romanesque were popular styles for these institutional buildings.
Several surviving residences illustrate these architectural trends. The Ingram House, 1201 Porter Street, built in 1876, is the earliest Italianate-style dwelling remaining in the historic district. The two-story, three-bay wide, brick dwelling has a recessed wing to the side. The windows in the first story are full height. The one-story, three-bay wide, full width front porch is cast iron, one of two such porches in the Manchester historic. The wood cornice has brackets, dentils, and alternating panels and decorative vents. The other dwelling with a cast iron porch is found at 1109 Bainbridge Street. Built in 1886, it is a two-story brick, Italianate, detached-house. The windows have hoods and there are brackets and decorative vents in the wood cornice. The cast iron, one-story, three-bay front porch is the most significant feature. A two-story brick addition was built in 1905 to the rear of the house and a modern two-story frame addition followed.
There are two attached dwellings, built in 1910, which demonstrate the continued influence of Italianate architecture. The attached, brick, Italianate-style houses at 1100, 1102 and 1104 Bainbridge Street, built 1910, are a well-preserved group. The center building, 1102, projects slightly thus emphasizing a three-bay unifying rhythm for the group. The details for each dwelling are similar. Each dwelling is three-bays wide with an entrance door and transom at one end and floor-to-ceiling, double-hung windows in the first story. All of the windows have stone lintels and sills. The wood cornice has modillions, dentils, and alternating panels and decorated vents. The Classical Revival-style, one-story, front porches are three-bays wide with Ionic columns set on wood pedestals. The porch railings have turned balusters and the cornice has modillion blocks. The dwellings located at 1200, 1202, 1204 and 1206 Bainbridge Street, built 1910, are brick, attached Italianate multi-family residences. Each dwelling is three-bays wide with side entry and floor-to-ceiling windows in the first story. The windows have stone lintels and sills. The wed cornice has modillions, dentils, and alternating panels and decorated vents. The deteriorated, one-story, Classical Revival-style porches are three-bays wide with tapered wood columns set on hood pedestals. The porch cornice has modillions and dentils. There is a decorative brick belt course at the second story window sills and saw tooth soldier course belt course at the second story window lintels. Above which are alternating plain and glazed stretchers that create a polychrome effect.
Queen Anne Dwellings
Queen Anne, of which there are many fine examples in brick and frame, is the predominant architectural style found in the district. The building located at 1300-1302 Bainbridge Street, built 1895, is an attached, Queen Anne-style, brick, two-story multi-family dwelling. The entry is located in the recessed center bay, creating the appearance of two detached dwellings. Each dwelling, excluding the center recess, is three bays wide. In the first story, the off set entry doors have sidelights and transoms and the two windows extend from floor to ceiling. The two side-bays have matching one-story, three-bay, porches. The porches have turned posts, brackets and a spindle work frieze below the roof line that is distinctly Queen Anne style. There is a mansard roof covered with decorative slate. Another fine Queen Anne row is found at 1301, 1303 and 1305 Bainbridge Street. This row, built 1895, is a well-preserved group of attached, two-story, brick dwellings that present a unified facade. Each dwelling is three bays wide with a projecting side entry tower that breaks the rhythm of the facade. The windows have double-hung sash and stone sills and lintels. The first-story windows extend from floor to ceiling. The side-bay towers have paired entry doors and each tower is capped with a pediment roof, of differing designs, and metal cresting. Recessed behind the towers are decorative slate mansard roofs with continuous cresting. At each tower projection there is a one-story, three-bay porch, a bay of which projects with the tower. The porches are capped with roofs of various designs. Most of the porches have turned posts, brackets and a spindle-work frieze.
There are several examples of frame Queen Anne-style dwellings in the district. The row of two-story, detached dwellings found at 1307, 1311, 1317, and 1319 Bainbridge Street illustrates the variety of forms and details found in the Queen Anne style. The house at 1300 Perry Street, built 1906, is a two-story frame Queen Anne dwelling and one of the few in the district with a one-story, wraparound porch. The porch has turned posts with brackets and spindle work supporting a cornice with dentils. The front-gable end d this dwelling has a decorative vent in the attic. The houses at 1415 and 1417 Perry Street, are excellent examples of two-story, Queen Anne-style, single-family frame dwellings in the historic district. The Ligouri House, located at 1415 Perry Street, and built in 1905 is almost identical to the residence at 1417 Perry Street. The three-bay, two-story, front-gables have decorative vents in the attic. Both have three-bay, one-story porches with turned posts, brackets and spindle friezes. The grouping of Queen Anne-style, single-family dwellings at 1505, 1507, and 1509 Perry Street displays a variety of the details associated with the style. All of these dwellings, built 1905, are two-story, three-bays wide, with front-gables and one-story, full-width porches. The houses at 1507 and 1509 have side entrances that are recessed behind arched openings and feature Palladian windows in the front-gable ends at the attic level. The first floor windows at 1505 and 1507 extend to the floor with transoms at the head and the upper window sashes at the second floor are patterned.
The residences at 1104, 1106, 1106, and 1110 Porter Street, are a varied group of two-story, frame dwellings, all built in 1895, that illustrate the predominance of the Queen Anne-style architecture in the historic district. Number 1104 Porter Street is a three-bay wide dwelling with a low, hipped roof. The one-story, full-width porch has turned posts and brackets. The house at 1108 Porter Street is a three-bay wide, Queen Anne dwelling with gable front. The projecting gable front roof is supported by brackets and timbering, and finished with vertical wood. The one story, three-bay wide, full-width porch has turned posts, brackets and a fine spindle work The house at 1108 Porter is four-bays wide with a projecting bay and a bracketed cornice. It has a one-story, three-bay wide porch with turned posts, brackets and a spindle work frieze. The building at 1110 Porter is a gable-front, Queen Anne-style dwelling with a Palladian window at the attic story.
The dwellings at 1407, 1409, 1411, and 1419 Porter Street, all built in 1905, are story, frame Queen Anne dwellings that illustrate the wide variety of characteristics associated with the style. Number 1407 Porter is a three-bay, gable-front dwelling with a one-story wraparound porch. The porch has turned posts, brackets and a spindle work frieze. Number 1409 Porter has a centered, two-story, projecting, front-gable bay Nth paired windows. The projecting front-gable roof has half timbering and fine scroll work. Number 1411 Porter is a three-bay wide, gable front dwelling with a one-story, full-width porch. The porch has turned posts, brackets and scroll work with a pediment above the entry bay. Number 1419 Porter is a three-bay wide, gable-front dwelling with a Palladian window in the gable at the attic story. The one-story, three-bay wide porch has turned posts, brackets and a spindle work frieze.
A unique multi-family dwelling in the historic district is located at 212 and 214 West 15th Street. Built in 1905, 212 West 15th Street originally had a shallow hipped roof. When 214 was built later and attached to 212, the facade was altered so that the entire structure resembled a Queen Anne-style double house. There is a five-bay, full width, one-story porch with turned posts. The three center bays have a front gable roof with projecting brackets and scroll work at the top of the gable. The gable is finished with diagonal wood siding.
Colonial Revival Dwellings
Two fine examples of two-story, Colonial Revival-style, brick dwellings are found at 1012 and 1014 Porter Street. The house at 1012 was built 1919 and 1014 was built 1915. Both have slate mansard roofs and one-story, full width porches. The facade at 1012 is two bays wide with a tripartite window and entry with a narrow window at the first story and double windows above at the second story. At 1012 the porch is two bays wide with a pedimented roof at the entry bay and there are two, double-windowed, pedimented dormers in the mansard. The house at 1014 has a two-bay wide porch and one, tripartite-windowed, pedimented dormer in the mansard.
The 1500 block of Potter Street contains a collection of large, brick single-family dwellings, all built in 1910 and 1911. Number 1503 and 1505 is a four-bay wide, Queen Anne-style, attached-dwelling with cylindrical towers at the corner bays. The towers are capped with conical slate roofs set in front of a polychrome slate mansard roof. The dwelling at 1509 Porter is a two-bay wide Colonial Revival-style building. The two-bay, one-story porch has a projecting entry bay with pedimented roof. The windows are triple sashes with elliptical fanlight transoms. There is a gable front at the roof above the tripartite windows and a dormer in the mansard roof above the entry bay.
Number 1511 Porter is a two-bay wide dwelling with a projecting tower, capped with a slate mansard roof and metal cresting. The one-story porch has classical columns supporting a cornice with modillions and metal cresting above. The facade has two, double-hung windows with stone heads at each story and is capped with a slate mansard roof and metal cresting. Number 1513 Porter Street is a two-bay wide dwelling with a slate mansard and metal westing above. The full width, one-story porch has classical columns and modillion trim at the roof. There is a projecting window bay at the second story and two dormers set in the mansard roof.
Vernacular dwellings are those buildings that have a traditional form and are generally devoid of any stylistic or character defining features. One such building, 14 West 11th Street, built in 1886, is a vernacular, two-story frame dwelling. It has a shallow hipped roof and there is a large central chimney. This two-story dwelling connects to an earlier one story structure at the rear. Another example of a vernacular dwelling is found at 208 West 13th Street, built 1905. It is a one-story dwelling with a hipped roof, central chimney and a utilitarian, two-bay wide porch.
In this period, Hull Street remained the commercial artery, serving Manchester and connecting Southside Virginia with Richmond and trade on the James River. New government and commercial buildings emerged here creating an urban landscape oriented to the street grid. The commercial buildings created a unified street facade while the government buildings dominated a city block or a major intersection.
The Beattie Block, 1119 to 1125 Hull Street, built in 1887, is the earliest commercial building in the district. It was designed by architect D. Wiley Anderson. It is a three-story, four-bay, brick Italianate commercial building with storefront bays at the first story. Brick pilasters define each of the bays in the upper two stories and there are three, double-hung windows (in each bay and each story) with stone sills and hooded lintels. The wood cornice has brackets, decorated vents and panels. There is a stone in the center pilaster, inscribed with "The Beattie Block 1887." The storefronts have been altered and the upper floors are vacant.
The Baldwin Building, 1209 Hull Street, built 1905, is a three-story, brick Italianate department store building, with a three-bay facade. At the first story, wood pilasters defining three storefront bays extend to a full width spandrel separating the first and second stories. The wide center storefront bay is recessed with display windows on each side. The two outside storefront bays have fixed display windows. At the upper floors there are four equal bays defined by brick pilasters extending to round brick arches with keystones under a corbeled brick belt course just below the brick cornice. The design of the corbeled brick cornice emulates brackets. The upper windows are double-hung, and the third-story windows have round heads.
Number 1309 and 1311 Hull Street, built in 1895, is a two-story, brick commercial building, constructed in the Beaux Arts style. The second-floor facade is seven-bays wide defined by pairs of castiron Corinthian columns set on pedestals supporting a heavy entablature with panels and brackets. This is one of the few metal storefronts found in the district.
The Manchester Courthouse, 920 Hull Street, built in 1871, dominates the entire block. The block is bounded by Hull, Decatur, 9th and 10th Streets, with the courthouse located in the center. The one-story, brick, Colonial Revival-style courthouse has a Tuscan portico with paired columns supporting a pedimented porch roof. The original front facing Hull Street is three-bays wide with the portico in the center bay flanked by double-hung windows with projecting lintels supported by consoles. A pediment with wood cornice and modillions defines the gable-end front and the building has brick quoins at the corners. The pediment at the front has a false round window to the attic. Albert West was the architect, V. J. Cutter was the general contractor, J. H. Ragland was the mason, and Edward Gallegher was the plasterer. Additions to the original courthouse were built in 1923, 1940 and 1969. The Manchester Courthouse is presently on the state and national registers. The Manchester Post Office, 1019 Hull Street, built 1910, is a one-story, brick and stone, Georgian Revival building with a raised basement. The building foundation is coursed granite and the upper portion is Flemish-bond brick with stone quoins at the corners. The five-bay facade has a center entry with a semi-circular stone arch, a salved panel, and two double-hung windows with stone sills and keystone lintels on each side. There are stone panels with garlands above each window. The entablature is stone with modillions below the cornice. Stone balustrade with interspersed pedestals surround the roof.
New churches were built, some replacing earlier buildings to accommodate the growing population. Meade Memorial Episcopal Church, 1201 Decatur Street, built in 1869, is a one-story, frame, Gothic Revival church. It has a gable-end front with a center projecting vestibule and a steeple with a pyramidal roof. The steeple has pointed-arch openings at the sides. The side of the church, five-bays deep, is defined by buttresses and pointed-arch windows with stained glass. The unusual wood buttresses are covered with alternating courses of square, butt-cut and pointed-cut wood shingles.
Cowardin Avenue Christian Church, 116 and 118 Cowardin Avenue, built in 1891, is a one-story, brick, Gothic Revival church with a raised basement. The gable-end front has a three-bay vestibule with a projecting center bay. The projecting center bay has three pointed-arch windows. The two side bays have pairs of pointed-arch doors leading into the church. There are pilasters at the corners and corbeled brick at the edge of the sloped roof at the gable-end front. A round window is set high in the gable-end facade. The sides of the church have six bays defined by pilasters and pointed-arch windows. A rear addition was constructed in 1906.
Decatur Street Methodist-Episcopal Church South, 900 Decatur Street, built in 1910, is a 1 1/2-story, red brick, Gothic Revival-style building. It has a gable front with a projecting, center bay and a three-story belfry tower at the side. The projecting bay at the front of the church has a tripartite, rectangular, stained glass window. The front walls on each side of the projecting center bay have a single, rectangular, stained glass window. Entry to the church is through a pair of doors centered in the belfry tower. The two stories above in the tower are defined by stone belt courses. Both stories have windows and the tower is capped with battlements. There are brick buttresses at the corners to support the tower. The rear, one-story Sunday School room, with a curved brick wall, was built before 1905. The main Church sanctuary was constructed later.
First Baptist Church, South Richmond, 1501 Decatur Street, built in 1892, a large, two-story, brick, Romanesque Revival building has a gable-end front with a bell tower at the corner. The church has stone belt courses between the first and second stories and a one-story entry vestibule centered in the facade. The vestibule has three, semi-circular arched openings in the brick wall with engaged columns below a pediment. At the front above the vestibule, is a round stained glass window set in a brick panel with a round stone arch. The fenestration on the front and sides of the nave consists of rectangular, stained glass windows with stone lintels and sills. A steeple, at the front to the side of the vestibule, has stone belt courses, windows and louvers below a pyramid roof. There is a 1970s two-story addition at the rear and a 1980s or 1990s educational wing addition to the side.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1401 Perry Street, built in 1901, is a two-story, brick, Romanesque church with a gable front and a bell tower at corner. The church has a stone belt course at the floor level and a stone and brick parapet above a semi-circular, arched stained glass window in the gable end. The primary entrance is a pair of paneled doors in the bell tower that are approached by stone steps. The bell tower has a concave pyramidal roof.
Central United Methodist Church, 1213 Porter Street, built in 1899, is a red brick Romanesque church that dominates the 1200 block of Potter Street. The church was designed by architect D. Wiley Anderson. The church is two stories in height with a projecting gable-end front and projecting towers at each side. The gable-end front has a tripartite, stained glass window at the lower level and a larger, bipartite, stained glass window with pointed-arches and keystones at the upper level. The predominate tower on the left side has a pair doors leading into the church from the street, and a stone belt course above the second story. Above the stone belt course are semi-circular arches with keystones and louvered openings. There is a second, narrower belt course above the louvered openings that forms the base for a series of four blind arches with stone impost blocks. The tower terminates in a pyramidal roof with single dormers on each side and corner battlements. The tower on the right side has similar elements but is more diminutive with a single-leaf entry door and no dormers in the roof.
Matthew F. Maury School, 1411 Bainbridge Street, is a two-story, brick Classical Revival-style building with a raised basement. The stuccoed, center, thirteen-bay section was built in 1888, with side and rear wings added in 1922. The earliest portion of the building is broken into three blocks with the center three bays slightly projected. There is a centered, one-story, three-bay wide, arcaded porch which emphasizes the main entrances into the raised basement. The projecting center three bays terminate in a pedimented roof with a plastered oculus in the center. The two projecting wings, added in 1922, are similar, with brick pilasters at the outside corners and a stuccoed plane between. A wooden cornice with modillions unifies the composition. Charles M. Robinson, a prolific school architect of the era, designed the original building and three wings. Graham Construction Company was the contractor. The design illustrates the importance that was placed on public education in this period.
During this period, construction was hampered by World War I and the depression that followed. Where it occurred, construction was primarily infill in the residential and commercial neighborhoods of the historic district. Early Twentieth Century American Movement, especially the American Foursquare became a favorite style in the residential neighborhoods. Commercial buildings were constructed in a variety of new styles including Art Deco and Classical Revival.
The buildings at 1304, 1306, and 1308 Bainbridge Street are American Foursquare-style dwellings of this period, all with dormered hip roofs and more spacious entry halls than the narrow side-hall Queen Anne and Italianate dwellings built earlier. The American Foursquare at 1308 Porter Street with its porte cochere and two-car garage at the rear illustrates the influence that the automobile would play in Manchester's future.
The only apartment building in Manchester is at 1301 Porter Street. The Porter Street Apartments, built in 1919, is a four-story, brick, Italian Renaissance-style building that is unique in the historic district and dominates the block. The four-story, five-bay wide block is set on a raised basement with a parged foundation course. The major entrance is a centered recess with a pedimented hood. All of the windows are double-hung, wood sashes with stone lintels and sills. The center bay has paired, double-hung windows. There is a cornice between the first and second stories, stone quoins at the corners on the second and third stories, and a horizontal stone belt between the third and fourth stories. The fourth story also has decorative brick panels between the windows and at the corners. There is a wood cornice with brackets and modillions below a brick parapet at the roof.
The Bank of Commerce and Trusts, 1128 Hull Street, built in 1921, is a two-story Classical Revival bank building. Pairs of cast stone pilasters flank the sides of the arched entry. Cast done pilasters, at the entry and the corners, extend the full height of the building to a cast stone architrave on which the bank's name is inscribed. Above the architrave is a cast stone cornice with a brick parapet and cast stone balustrade. The Venus Theatre, 1410-14 Hull Street, built in 1926, is a two-story, Classical Revival-style building. The building is faced with cast stone and pilasters defining the bays. There is a stone entablature with "VENUS" carved in the frieze and stone modillions below the cornice.
The American Bank & Trust, 1518 Hull Street, built in 1930, is a three-story, two-bay wide, Art Deco building with a brick and stone facade. The center bay is cast stone with a two-story entrance and windows at the third story. Fluted and stepped pilasters define the bays and extend to the roof at the center bay. Decorative brick panels separate the floors at the side bays.
Brinser Hall, 1606-16 Hull Street, built in 1930, is a two-story, Classical Revival-style building. Brick pilasters set on stone pedestals define the three-bay facade. The masonry joints are raked out and the second story windows have brick jack arches with keystones. There is a metal cornice below the brick parapet at the roof.
Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, built in 1929, replaced the earlier Meade Memorial Episcopal Church, constructed in 1869 at 104 Cowardin Avenue. Saint Luke's is a two-story, Classical Revival, Flemish-bond brick church with a raised basement. There are quoins at the corners and glazed brick headers in the field. The gable-front church has a two-story, three-bay wide, projecting portico with Corinthian columns supporting a pedimented roof with modillions and half round window in the tympanum. There is a centered double-leaf entry door with an arched transom and single-leaf entry doors with decorative lintels in the flanking bays. There are double-hung windows in the second story below the portico. A steeple with a brick base extends from the roof. Above the base is a square, louvered story with pairs of columns at the corners. It is capped with an octagonal tower, a steep roof, and a ball and cross.
Across from Sacred Heart Church at 1400-18 Perry Street, is the Sacred Heart School. Built in 1931, it is a two-story brick Art Deco building. Projecting windowless end bays flank a seven-bay wide block. The windowless end bays have pilasters at the corners. The seven central bays are defined by brick pilasters. At the centered entrance there are projecting pilasters which support brick and cast stone ornamentation above the entry doors.
The Bainbridge Junior High School Gymnasium, adjoining the Maury School at 111 West 15th Street, was built in 1939. The three-story, brick, Classical Revival gymnasium was design by architect J. Binford Walford and built by the Allen Saville Construction Company. The center three-bays of the facade are projected, slightly in front of unfenestrated blocks at the corners. The first story of the projecting plane is rusticated and pierced by three pairs of doors with transoms. Cast stone bands separate the first and second stories. Above the doors are three, two-story brick arches with cast stone keystones. Recessed in the brick arches are sixteen-light industrial sash windows in the second story and arched windows in the third story. A metal cornice with modillions wraps the projecting bay below the brick parapet.
1942 to The Present
The end of World War II brought short lived prosperity to Manchester. By the 1950s, new suburban development drew residents away from the town and by the 1960s, suburban shopping centers began to draw business away from the Hull Street commercial area. The widening of Cowardin Avenue from the Lee Bridge and Commerce Road from the Manchester Bridge (9th Street) gave definition to the east and west sides of the historic district. New public housing following demolition, south of Hull, and defines the south boundary of the historic district. Overnite Trucking Company cleared large areas of historic residences north of the district towards the James River, during the 1960s and 1970s. The late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century commercial and residential buildings in the historic district had become largely abandoned and deteriorated by 1980.
Historically, Manchester's significance has been based on its location on the James River across from Richmond. This importance was rediscovered in the 1990s with the development of large, river-oriented, office buildings between the Lee and Manchester Bridges. In 1997, the master plan for the city of Richmond expanded Richmond's "downtown" to include the residential and commercial historic district and established a "redevelopment" plan for Manchester.
The Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District in Richmond, Virginia, is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under criteria A and C. The historic district illustrates the growth of a community from a scattered settlement in the seventeenth century, to a thriving port in the eighteenth century. Manchester was granted city status in the nineteenth century and in the twentieth century it was consolidated into the city of Richmond. The surviving architecture represents the prosperous era, the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, when Manchester thrived as a port and manufacturing center on the south side of the James River across from Richmond. This period saw the construction of a wide variety of commercial and residential building types and styles in Manchester. The buildings are elaborate and modest and include schools, churches and government buildings mixed into the residential and commercial areas. Hull Street is the focus of the commercial area with multi-story masonry buildings, standing shoulder to shoulder along the street. Hull Street is a major thoroughfare connecting Chesterfield County and Southside Virginia to Richmond via Mayo's Bridge over the James River. While commercial activity is predominant on Hull Street interspersed meeting halls, movie houses and restaurants contributed to the social and cultural life in Manchester. Bainbridge, Porter and Perry Streets retain a wide variety of two-story, detached dwellings of various styles mixed with the schools and churches necessary to serve the community. Many individual buildings are noteworthy but the district's significance lies in the unified commercial and residential streetscapes representative of "hometown America." The commercial, residential and public buildings exhibit a wide variety of architectural styles construction methods and craftsmanship.
The Settlement Period 1607-1750
On 24 May 1607, Captain Christopher Newport, from Jamestown, and his band of English explorers planted a cross at the falls of the James River, near the heart of the present city of Richmond and Manchester. They were attracted to the natural features of the falls of the James. In 1676, William Byrd I was awarded tracks of land on both sides of the James. The north bank was to be known as "Shockoe" and the south bank as "the Mills." A canal, mill race and two mills were built at the falls on the south bank. One mill was for cloth and the other, a grist mill. William Byrd I died in 1704, leaving his land and enterprises to his son, William Byrd II. In 1730, Patrick Coutt built a ferry, which ran from the Mills to Rockett's, on the north side of the James. The ferry, between the future cities of Manchester and Richmond, was the first and only transportation across the river for over fifty years. Additional warehouses and wharves were built to accommodate the growing trades and industry. Because of its topography, the area on the south side of the James River came to be known as Rocky Ridge. In 1737, William Byrd II asked John Mayo, who had laid out the streets for Richmond, to do so for his holdings on the south side of the river. Mayo's street grid is still evident in the district today.
Colony to Nation Period 1750-1789
William Byrd II died in 1744, and his son, William Byrd III inherited his father's wealth. Byrd had Benjamin Watkins, then the surveyor for Chesterfield County, resurvey his holdings south of the river. It is said that William Byrd III was careless with his finances and in November 1768, needing to raise capital, he held a lottery. The winners were given lots in the new town. Some received such things as fishing rights to certain areas. While others were given administrative positions in the newly formed town government. In 1769, Rocky Ridge was incorporated as a town, and the name was changed to Manchester. Prior to the Revolutionary War, Manchester was a major slave market. The point of entry was Osbornes' located just east of Manchester on the south side. Slave labor was instrumental in the development of Virginia. Slaves not only worked in the fields but also in shipping along the wharves and in the coal mines. They often become skilled artisans and were hired out by their owners.
In Manchester, the wealthier citizens built fine homes and elaborate gardens. However, most residents were poor, and their homes were much more modest. Since brick was expensive, they commonly built chimneys of wood, with a clay lining. These proved to be a fire hazard, so the General Assembly passed a law that prohibited their use. In 1770, some residents invited two Baptist ministers to preach in Manchester. They held meetings which attracted large crowds. Archibald Cary, who was then the magistrate, had the preachers arrested, because they had not obtained a license to preach. Over the next four years, five more Baptist ministers were arrested. Despite this persecution, they established three churches, in outlying communities. Blacks were among those who joined these congregations, and others, which were organized later. However, the Baptists did not establish a church in Manchester until after 1800.
Manchester was a major staging and supply area for south side Virginia during the American Revolution. In 1776, a system of warehouses, including warehouses in Manchester, had been authorized by the General Assembly and John Mayo, Richard Adams and William Cole were authorized to procure and store flour and pork at Manchester for the Army. The majority of Manchester's citizens were loyal to the cause of independence. However, there were prominent British interests, particularly Scottish merchants, loyal to the Crown in Manchester on the eve of the Revolution. In January 1776, the Virginia Gazette published a list of nine Tories in Manchester who were leaving or about to leave the city. During and after the war, the properties of some of these merchants were sold. In 1781 British General Benedict Arnold's troops entered Richmond for a twenty-four hour occupation and a bit of destruction. British Colonel J. G. Simcoe played a leading role in this brief occupation and so called "skirmish" at Richmond, as indicated in his personal journal. A map of the "skirmish" said to have been made by Lt. Allang of the Queen's Rangers, shows both Richmond and Manchester, with buildings, roads and fields on both sides of the James River. Again in April of 1781, General Arnold sent a detachment of British troops, commanded by Major General William Philips, to destroy the warehouses and other important buildings in Richmond and Manchester. Thomas Jefferson, then governor of Virginia, watched them approach Richmond from Manchester. Richmond was devastated by the attack, and Manchester suffered considerable damage, as well. Troops of both sides occupied Manchester during the war.
Richmond became the capital of the Commonwealth in 1779, and thus enjoyed increased prestige. Manchester, sometimes called the Free State, lived in its shadow. A rivalry developed between Richmond and Manchester, as they competed for new business. In 1785, John Mayo was granted a charter to build a bridge, at the site of the present-day 14th Street Bridge. The first bridge was completed in 1788, but it washed away several times and was reconstructed. It was to be the only bridge across the James, connecting Manchester and Richmond, until 1873. Also in 1785, plans were being developed for the construction of the James River and Kanawha Canal. The canal company's engineer thought that the best route would be through Manchester. Several wealthy British commercial houses had establishments in Manchester and imported large quantities of goods. With three tobacco inspection stations and a flour mill, Manchester felt herself a rival of Richmond, and may have been a powerful one too, but for the selfish and narrow minded policy of one of her richest Scottish merchants. He believed that if the canal was brought to Manchester it would attract too many merchants and create competition for his business. Patrick Henry was retained, for a large fee, and succeeded in diverting the canal's construction to the Richmond side of the river. This proved a hollow victory as many merchants moved their enterprises to Richmond, to be near the canal. Manchester declined until no trade remained. Since Manchester held water rights for half of the river, many good sites were available for mills. This combined with low taxes and less expensive land were the factors that helped to revive the economy.
Early National Period 1789-1830
When President George Washington toured the South in 1791, he came to Manchester. Crossing from Richmond via the Mayo Bridge, he received a twenty-one-gun salute. Washington had several friends in Manchester. Among them were Patrick Coutt, who ran the ferry, Archibald Freeland, a Scottish tobacco exporter, and Archibald Cary, who was the magistrate for a time. While residing in Richmond in the 1790s, famed architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe entered the following description of Manchester in his diary. "Manchester is a small decaying town irregularly built upon irregular ground. Not a tree exists to enliven the dead appearance of its wooden buildings." By contrast at the same time, French traveler Duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancort said "...the little, and well built town of Manchester, environed by cultivated fields, which are ornamented by an infinite number of trees, and dotted with scattered houses, embellishes the sweet, variegated, agreeable and romantic perspective." In 1798, the first church was built in Manchester. A Methodist group built a simple wooden structure, later known as the Old Plank Church, at 10th and Perry Streets, near the edge of the historic district. With the coming of a new century, new inventions awed the citizens of Manchester and Richmond.
By 1805, the primary development in Manchester was in the warehouse and industrial area along the James River. In this era the economy was principally based on tobacco, which was grown locally and exported across the Atlantic and exchanged for needed products made there. But the plateau to the south offered an area for expansion and a more pastoral setting for Manchester's wealthier citizens to build their residences above the river and the waterfront development. In 1809-1810, Richard Young prepared a map of Richmond and part of Manchester, in Chesterfield County. The Manchester portion shows "Turnpike Road," later to be named Hull Street, leading from Chesterfield, through Manchester to the south end of the Mayo Bridge, and into Richmond. The named streets, in Manchester, crossing Hull Street were Jackson Street, later to be 5th Street, and Biddle Street, later to become 6th Street. The map also shows the mill canal, the mill pond at Mayo's Mill and the mill race.
In 1811, Edwin C. Trent attempted to build a second bridge across the James, but his engineering was flawed. He built the bridge only two feet above the water, and it washed away almost immediately. The early 1800s and in particular, the years of 1812 and 1813 were nervous times for Richmond and Manchester. Life still depended on trade across the Atlantic and many countries paid tribute to pirates for protection on the open seas. Further, war against Great Britain had been declared on 12 June 1812 and volunteers were called to fill Virginia's quota for the militia. This era produced American naval heros whose names would later adorn the streets of Manchester. The Turnpike Road shown on Richard Young's 1809-1810 map of Richmond and Manchester would be named for Commodore Isaac Hull who served in the war with Tripoli and later became commandant of the Boston Naval Yard. Bainbridge Street gets its name from William Bainbridge, Commander of the warship Constitution in the war of 1812. Porter Street gets its name from Commander David Porter, who captured nine prizes in one cruise from New York to the West Indies during the War of 1812. Perry Street is named for Commander Oliver Perry who affected the surrender of the British Fleet on the Great Lakes in the War of 1812. Decatur Street is named for Commodore Stephen Decatur, who was the commander of the warship Constitution in the Tripoli War in 1803. Originally, the cross streets of Manchester were also named for American military heros, but those names were later replaced with numbers.
Since the settlement and colonial periods, Manchester's growth has never matched the pace of Richmond's. Many buildings, both public and private, constructed during the Early National Period in Manchester have disappeared over the years. The first school in America for the deaf and dumb was founded in Manchester in 1818. It was in the old Masonic Hall (no longer standing) at 5th and Hull Streets. Around 1821, a group of free blacks started holding church meetings at a member's home. Two years later, they erected a building (no longer standing) on 7th Street, on the edge of the historic district, known as the Slab Church. The Freeland and Jones Houses are the only remaining buildings in the historic district from this era. The earliest dwelling is the Archibald Freeland House, built ca. 1797. The large brick house, which dominates the 1000 block of Bainbridge Street, was called "the mansion" by old residents. Freeland, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, came to Virginia in 1780. He was in the tobacco export business. The house was probably built by John Murchie, one of the early trustees of the town of Manchester, and later bought by Freeland. The Freeland House was purchased by the Manchester Lodge Number 843 of the BPOE and was used as an Elks Club for nearly 30 years. The substantial brick dwelling at 115 West 12th Street, built ca. 1814, is best known as the home of Manchester physician, Dr. Thomas D. Jones. It stands, set back from the street, on lot number 105, purchased from William Byrd's trustee, by Thomas and Mary Turpin of Powhatan County. The lot was sold in 1797 to Manchester merchant, Archibald Campbell. In 1798, Campbell insured a frame house on this lot, measuring thirty-two feet by eighteen feet, for $500. Campbell died owing money and Thomas Treadway bought the property at public auction and sold it to Edward Johnson in 1811. Johnson sold it in 1814 to Robert Cary Jennings and Jennings insured the brick house and kitchen for $3,400. Jennings sold the property in 1817 to Branch Cheatham who owned a tavern on Hull Street. The house was enlarged in the 1870s, ownership changed hands numerous times until it was purchased by Dr. Thomas Jones in 1912 for $8,000. The Freeland and Jones Houses are similar Georgian-styles dwellings built in an era when wealthy Virginia planters and merchants emulated the style of choice among the gentry in the British Isles. This style also reflected Virginia's economic and social ties to Britain after the War of Independence.
The Antebellum Period 1830-1860
Coal mining became increasingly important to Manchester and Chesterfield County by 1830. A tramway, built in 1831, hauled coal from the mines at Midlothian to the port in Manchester. The tramway, among the first of its kind in the nation, was powered by gravity. Mules were loaded in the rear car to pull the empty cars back to the mines. The coal tram operated until 1856. The railroads came to Manchester, beginning in 1836, when Hull Street Station was built. The tracks were run from Manchester to Danville around 1847, and a railroad bridge was built across the James in 1850. Manchester became one of the most important commercial and industrial centers in Virginia. In 1860, Manchester's population totaling 2,793, was made up of "1,828 whites, 222 free colored and 743 slaves."
The Bainbridge Street Baptist Church, a Greek Revival-style building, was constructed in 1857 at the corner of 11th and Bainbridge Streets. A Baptist Sunday School had been organized in the area as early as 1816. The Baptists, for a time met in the Old Masonic Hall and in 1846 they purchased the Methodist's Old Plank Church. The present church building was started in 1855 and is still in use by descendants of the original congregation. A well know preacher there, from 1858 until 1867, William E. Hatcher wrote letters to newspapers under the pen name "Struggle." Hatcher pretended to be a mill girl and commented on the abuses of the mills and other town problems. The Turner-Baldwin House, a substantial brick Greek Revival-style dwelling at 1209 Porter Street, was originally the property of Col. David Patteson. The property transferred to Holden Rhodes and his heirs sold the property to Esther Lazendre, a free black woman in 1859. It was held in trust by her son, Solomon Turner. The deed said that she had resided there for "some years." Bainbridge Baptist Church and the Turner-Baldwin House are the only remaining buildings in the historic district from this era. The Confederate engineer's maps from 1865 show scattered buildings in the historic district, all except four, have been lost, or were later replaced in the late-nineteenth century.
The Civil War 1861-1865
When the Civil War began in 1861, Manchester's industries and citizens were enlisted in the cause of the South. The Manchester Elliot Grays and the Manchester Artillery were the two most prominent units. When Richmond became the Confederate Capital, existing defenses were built up even more. Confederate Military maps indicate several artillery batteries, outside of the historic district, around Manchester. An extensive Confederate naval yard was developed, southeast of Manchester, down river and outside of the historic district.
On 2 April 1865, Confederate troops evacuating Richmond came across the Mayo Bridge, and burned it behind them. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with his family, fled to Danville. He boarded the train in Manchester. General Grant and his victorious Federal Army, rode through Manchester, having built a pontoon bridge to serve as a temporary crossing. General Lee and the remainder of his troops came through after the surrender at Appomattox.
After the fall of Richmond, William Ira Smith, proprietor of the Richmond Whig published a map, drawn on stone by C. L. Ludwig showing the burnt districts of Richmond. The map showed both Richmond and Manchester. The Confederate Navy Yard, east of Manchester, was the only "burnt" area south of the river. The map shows that the Mayo Bridge, the Richmond and Danville Railroad Bridge and the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Bridge had been burned, as well. The burning of those bridges by the evacuating troops minimized the burning of Manchester. The map also shows a "new pontoon" bridge, just east of the burned Mayo Bridge, crossing the eastern tip of Mayo's Island. A Matthew Brady photograph taken in 1865, from the north side of the river in Richmond, looking south to Manchester shows the pontoon bridge and the extensive flour, cotton and woolen mills on the Manchester side, below the historic district. Manchester had escaped serious damage during this period. Few buildings were constructed during this period and none remain in the historic district.
Reconstruction & Growth 1865 - 1917
As with the rest of the South, the next years found Manchester in an economic depression and faced with military occupation. After the initial lull of Reconstruction, Manchester experienced a period of growth, unmatched at any other time. Manchester had been, and would remain a "working class" community reliant upon employment in the mills, the trade related businesses, and the transportation systems concentrated at the falls of the James River. In 1870 Manchester's population totaled 2,599, made up of "1,517 whites, 1,082 colored and 40 foreign." Two buildings can be found in the historic district that were constructed in the early years of Reconstruction. The John B. Anderson House, a 1 1/2-story, frame dwelling was built in 1867. In 1819 the lot belonged to tavern keeper, Zachariah Brooks, whose tavern was on the same square. Brooks sold the lot to Mary Jones in 1833. She in turned sold part of the lot to James Donely in 1855. In 1867, both Jones and Donely owned parts of the lot with buildings valued at $200. In 1874, Donely's wife Jane sold part of their lot with improvements to John B. Anderson for $800. This part of the lot is labeled "JBA" on the Beers map. Anderson was living there in 1877, and the 1885 census listed his occupation as "nailer." Anderson died in 1894.[l3]
Meade Memorial Episcopal Church, a frame, Gothic Revival-style building with wooden buttresses along the sides, was erected in 1869 as a memorial to Bishop William Meade. For a number of years after the Revolutionary War, the Episcopal Church was in dire straits, as it represented to many people the power and coercion of Great Britain. The Manchester Parish had been formed from Dale Parish in 1722 but it was dissolved in 1778. As early as 1791 the General Assembly passed a law allowing a group to raise money for an Episcopal Church in Manchester, but nothing happened until much later. In the early 1800s, the Episcopalians met in the Masonic Hall at 5th and Bainbridge Streets. The cornerstone for the new church was laid in the presence of the rectors of Saint James' and Saint Paul's Episcopal churches in Richmond. The first rector of Meade Memorial was J. E. Hammand, who served until 1873. The church was replaced in 1929, by Saint Luke's on Cowardin Avenue. Today, the church is used by another congregation.
Manchester served as the county seat for Chesterfield County for three years, beginning in 1871. The Colonial Revival Manchester Courthouse was built in 1871 as the Chesterfield County courthouse. Albert West was the architect and Capt. V. J. Cutter was the general contractor. Among the craftsmen who worked on the building were J. H. Ragland, mason; Edward Gallegher, plasterer; and Arthur Evans, faux finisher. When Manchester became a city, in 1874, the county seat was moved back to the old Chesterfield County Courthouse and the Manchester courthouse continued to serve the newly formed city. The 1910, Act of the Assembly, consolidating Manchester and Richmond, required that a courthouse be maintained on the south side of the river. The courthouse is still in use as a General District and Circuit Court for the city of Richmond. When constructed the Manchester Courthouse shared the block with a jail, a market and the Methodist-Episcopal Church. Those buildings have disappeared, and additions to the Courthouse in 1923, 1940 and 1969 have covered the west side of the block.
In 1874 a town census revealed a population of 3,207 white and 1,935 black citizens. Most of the citizens of Manchester believed it should become a city, independent from Chesterfield County and in March 1874 the General Assembly granted Manchester a City charter. In 1876, the streets were finally graded and improved under the direction of Andrew L. Johnson, a graduate of VMI. That same year the city finally got new and improved street lamps. The Richmond Whig stated that the "same lamp is used in some of the large Northern cities." Railroads, shipping, mining, and manufacturing, along with a thriving retail sector, all contributed to the economy. Flour from local mills was widely exported. Some enterprising millers had trade agreements with Brazil. They imported coffee, which had been exchanged for flour.
The 1876 Beer's Atlas Map of Manchester shows the historic district in great detail. Along Hull Street, the predominate structures were small, detached, frame businesses and dwellings. Dwellings, were scattered along Bainbridge, Porter & Perry Streets and a reservoir had been built at the corner of 11th and Bainbridge Streets, to provide domestic water service. The Ingram House, 1201 Porter Street, with its cast iron porch, was built in 1876 and is best know as the home of Dr. Sylvanus Ingram and his son Dr. Lawrence Ingram. Sylvanus was from Lunenburg County, Virginia and had studied in Charlottesville, Philadelphia and Paris. During the Civil War he was a surgeon attached to Courtney's Battery. After the war he briefly returned to Lunenburg before setting up practice in Manchester. Sylvanus' son, David, graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1886, became head of the Manchester Board of Health and founded the Manchester Almshouse. Sylvanus' other son was John H. Ingram who became a judge and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902.
The end of the War and Reconstruction spurred the business interests of the recently freed black citizens. The Reformers Mercantile and Industrial Association, a black owned business, was formed and constructed a two-story, brick building at 1324 Hull Street. Much altered and connected to the adjacent building, the Reformers building is in use today as a furniture store. During the Reconstruction era, Ballard T. Edwards, a black man born free in Manchester, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Edwards, a Republican, was a master bricklayer, plasterer, and contractor. He was instrumental in saving the state capitol building from being demolished after the fatal collapse of the House of Delegates balcony in 1870. Edwards was also a principal sponsor for the construction of the second bridge to span the James. The Free Bridge, on the site of the present Manchester Bridge, or Ninth Street Bridge, was built in 1873. When the Free Bridge was later rebuilt, a streetcar track was installed, one of the first streetcar systems in America. Edwards fell out of political favor when he proposed legislation to ban discrimination in public transportation. He was succeeded in office by another free black, Henry J. Cox. Edwards was a member of the African Baptist Church at 15th and Decatur Streets. The congregation continues today at that location.
A series of articles in the Richmond Dispatch during September 1878 related the present state of Manchester. Porter Street was called "Manchester's 5th Avenue." The articles spoke of the street grading, the handsome new porch on the Taylor mansion and the new granite wall at the Presbyterian Church. Also mentioned were the residences of Maj. John Vaughan, Thomas Fendley, Robert Perdue, James Patteson, Reverend D. B. Winfree, Walter Cheatham, Dr. Ingram and others. These houses were described as "mostly brick and all handsome." By 1880 Manchester's population had grown to 5,729 people. The city had 631 acres and 21 miles of streets and by 1881 there were "a dozen telephones" connecting it with Richmond. In 1885, the Manchester and Richmond Street Railway began operating on a route between Manchester and Richmond. The first cars were pulled by horses and mules and the system was electrified in the 1890s. The street railway was built by Lewis H. Blair and purchased by Joseph Bryan. Manchester's Mayor John E. Taylor was first president of the line.
The question of Virginia's policy in regard to saloons and liquor replaced the old issues of free silver, sectionalism and the Negro in politics. The anti-liquor crusade immersed itself in State politics with the goal of achieving statewide prohibition. The strategy was to curtail the use of liquor by mobilizing public opinion against the granting of licenses and by outlawing the saloon. A law was passed for local option liquor in 1886. In voting on liquor licenses in Manchester, the "wets" defeated the "drys" by a vote of 974 to 348. While most areas of Virginia became dry by 1900, Manchester, typical of the developing urban areas, would remain wet. Taverns continued to develop in Manchester and distilling alcohol would become another business enterprise. The buildings of the Burke & Moore Saloon, at 1437 Hull Street, built in 1895, and the Southside Distilling Company, at 1111 Hull Street, are still standing.
The 1886 Sanborn Map of Manchester illustrates the development of part of the historic district along Decatur, Hull and Bainbridge Streets, from 9th to 14th Streets. By 1886, the density of frame commercial buildings along this part of Hull Street, had increased. While some buildings reflected vernacular trends, Italianate and Queen Anne style were the most popular. In 1886, 1109 Bainbridge Street was built and later served as the home for the Bainbridge Street Baptist Church's preacher.
Before the Civil War, education was primarily a private matter. Virginia's Reconstruction Constitution permitted Negro suffrage and provided for a system of public education advocated by Robert E. Lee and others. The debt of the War would plague the finances of Virginia and public education would flounder until late in the nineteenth century. Early in the nineteenth century Archibald Freeland. David Weisiger, Washington Weisiger, Miles Bott, Zachariah Brooks, Samuel Taylor and others successfully petitioned the legislature to establish the Manchester Academy which opened in 1809 and continued to operate into the 1860s. In 1815, Reverend John Kilpatrick opened a school in the Masonic Hall and in the 1820s Mrs. Eliza Harris opened a school for young ladies in Manchester. In 1870, funds were appropriated for the Free School of Manchester and by 1871 the Richmond Dispatch reported that Manchester had three public schools. In 1872, the School Board asked for a school tax and it was approved. The Manchester City Council, in 1875, proposed the building of one new school for whites and one new school for blacks to replace inadequate facilities that were serving 400 white and 200 black pupils. The first Manchester High School building was on Hull Street between 4th and 5th Streets and the Manchester Public school on West 8th Street. The Matthew F. Maury School at 1411 Bainbridge Street was built as the Bainbridge Elementary School in 1888 to serve the black community with James Blackwell as the principal. The nearby Blackwell neighborhood is named in his honor. The school was renamed in 1919 for Matthew F. Maury (1806-1873), a noted Confederate naval officer and geographer known as "Pathfinder of the Seas." In 1922, end bays and a rear wing designed by Charles M. Robinson, an architect noted for his school designs at the turn of the century, were added to the building nearly doubling its size.
In 1888, Manchester and Chesterfield officials had Colonel C. P. E. Burgwyn, a Civil Engineer, prepare a report on the physical and geographic features of the area and demonstrate their great potential from an engineering standpoint, especially, the prospect of water power facilities at the falls of the James River. Burgwyn concluded that during the summer season, the driest of the year, water falling at Manchester would give 21,040 horsepower which compared favorably with other cities. Burgwyn noted that the horse power at Manchester greatly exceeded that of Holyoke Mass, Manchester NH, Lowell, Mass, Lewiston, Maine and Lawrence, Mass. Manchester and Chesterfield were clearly trying to capitalize on their positions at the fall of the James to join in the national trend of industrial expansion.
In 1890, the United States Census recorded Manchester's population at 9,246. The 1895 Sanborn Map of Manchester shows a marked change in building development. The early detached, frame dwellings and commercial buildings along Hull Street were giving way to attached brick commercial buildings. The heaviest construction along Hull Street by 1895 was in the 1100, 1200 and 1300 blocks. These were all multistory brick commercial buildings like the Beattie Block, 1119-1125 Hull Street, built in 1887 to serve multiple businesses. The growth of new dwellings was greatest in the 1100 block of Porter Street and in the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Bainbridge Street. There are approximately thirty-seven buildings in the historic district that were constructed in the 1890s. Italianate and vernacular styles were the most popular for commercial buildings, while the Queen Anne and Italianate styles of architecture dominant for residential building.
The increase in the number of churches responded to the growth in the business and residential sectors of Manchester. The first meeting of the Presbyterians in Manchester occurred when Parson Turner established a Sunday School at the old Masonic Hall on 5th Street in 1812. In 1870 a meeting, sparked by Miss Margaret Allen, was held to organize the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester. The first elders were William Buell and Henry Fitzgerald and the Deacons were O. H. Clarke and W. T. Lithgow. In July 1889 construction began on the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester at 10th and Porter Streets. The name was changed to Porter Street Presbyterian Church in 1910 when Manchester consolidated with Richmond. In 1966 the congregation left for a new church, Southminster Presbyterian Church in Chesterfield County and the Porter Street Church was torn down. The Church Manse, built 1895, still stands today at 1008 Porter Street.
In 1876, Bishop James Gibbons purchased a tract of land at 14th and Perry Streets and in the same year a Catholic Sunday School was started at the home of John A. Carroll just outside of Manchester. There were over 40 Catholic families in Manchester and northern Chesterfield County, most of whom worshiped at Saint Peter's or at Saint Mary's in Richmond. The Sunday School developed into a day school and in 1897 a new school was built. Thomas Fortune Ryan of Nelson County, Virginia, moved north to Baltimore and then New York, where he purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and within several years had become a multimillionaire. Ryan is best known for his wealth and the formation of the American Tobacco Company and British-American Tobacco Company. Ryan also had significant political influence and was an intimate friend of Virginia's powerful, Democratic United States Senator Thomas Martin. Through the years Ryan generously supported Catholic charities including the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond. Over his life time his charitable contributions amounted to about $20,000,000. Sacred Heart Catholic Church was built at the corner of 14th and Perry Streets in 1901. Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan contributed the money for construction of the church, and requested that the church be named Sacred Heart. The new church dedicated on 1 December 1901, was built by Fritz Sitterding at a cost of $14,608.91. The first priest was Father Thomas Waters. The rectory was built next door in the same year. The church and school have thrived since that time.
The Methodist church in Manchester dates to about 1786 when services were held in the home of John Botts. In 1798 the "Old Plank Church" was built at 10th and Perry Streets and demolished about 1896. About 1846, the Methodists built a new church on 9th Street between Hull and Decatur. In 1899 the Gothic style Central United Methodist Church at 13th and Porter Streets was built, replacing the 9th Street church. Mr. John Hughes, a faithful member, always there, always fell asleep when the sermon was preached, because, he had "perfect confidence in the preacher." Frank B. Dunford has compiled an excellent history of the church still in use by the congregation today.
The 1900 United States Census recorded Manchester's population at 9,715. The 1905 Sanborn Map of Manchester continued to show an increase in building development since the publication of the 1895 map. New brick commercial buildings were constructed on Hull Street and new dwellings were built on the numbered cross streets as well as Bainbridge, Perry and Porter Streets. There are approximately thirty-nine buildings in the historic district that were constructed between 1895 and 1905. In 1905, the Baldwin Building at 1209 Hull Street was built as the first, full service department store in Manchester. While a variety of merchandise was available in the many shops along Hull Street, the Baldwin Department Store provided that variety on three floors under one roof. The building was designed by architect Wiley Anderson. The Baldwin Department Store was later purchased by Thalhimer's Department Stores of Richmond and made a part of that chain. The building was most recently used as a bookstore.
In 1906 the Hill Directory Company of Richmond published the first business directory of Manchester, independent of Richmond, with street addresses. The directory lists seven law firms, three bakers, thirteen barbers, two bicycle dealers, seven blacksmiths, thirteen boarding houses, six brick manufacturers, nine butchers, six druggists, seventeen dry goods stores, three eating houses, sixty-five grocers, seven meeting halls, seven insurance companies, three laundries, four newspapers, fourteen physicians, fifteen saloons and ten shoemakers. Businesses owned by blacks were noted with an asterisk. All the boarding houses were owned by whites while all of the eating houses were black owned. Sixteen of the grocery businesses were listed as black owned, including the Reformers Mercantile and Industrial Association's grocery at 1322 Hull Street. Of the fourteen physicians, three were black including William H Hughes at 1413 Hull Street. The Burke & Moore Saloon operated at 1437 Hull Street, Jonathan Onesty operated a saloon at 1309 Hull Street, and Robert J Morris, a black, operated a saloon across the street at 1316 Hull Street. While there was no distinct neighborhood designated for black owned businesses at this time, the majority of the black businesses and residences were in the 1000, 1100, 1300 and 1400 blocks of Hull Street.
In 1907, possibly to keep pace with national and regional industrial expansion, the City of Manchester's Committee of Industries published a booklet touting special inducements to manufacturers noting a profitable field for investors. The population was listed as 15,000 with the Manchester city and suburbs, magnificently located on the James River, opposite Richmond. Large establishments recently located on Manchester included the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Company, the Richmond Electric Company, the Blair Glass Works, the Standard Paper Manufacturing Company, the Standard Oil Company, the Carrington Tobacco Factories, the American Bridge Company, the American Foundry Company and the Virginia Metal Company. Shipping facilities and access to raw materials were noted as advantages for wood working plants. The shipping facilities were all outside, and along the edge of the historic district and they included the Manchester wharves, the Southern Railway, the Seaboard Air Line, the Norfolk and Western and the Atlantic Coast Line railroads. The booklet noted that there were twenty-nine schools in Manchester, twenty for white students and nine for colored students. The Merchants and Mechanic Bank, J. H. Patteson, cashier, had deposits of nearly $500,000 and the Bank of Manchester, Clarence Vaden, cashier, had deposits of nearly $250,000. The new city waterworks had a capacity 1,500,000 gallons per day and gas and electricity provided lighting. The city also touted a fire department that was well equipped with paid firemen. The demand for new residences in Manchester was great and suburban building lots close to street railways could be purchased at low rates.
In 1908 discussions of consolidating Richmond and Manchester were renewed. There had been earlier discussions as far back as 1878 but nothing substantial had come of them. In the meantime, Manchester had financial difficulties and was making overtures to manufacturers and other commercial bodies to locate in the south side. Richmond was fast becoming a financial center, and soon became cognizant of Manchester's financial ills and began to look for a remedy. William T. "Booster Bill" Dabney operated a cigar and soda emporium near 9th and Main Streets in Richmond. Dabney was a member of the Richmond Board of Aldermen and chosen, without opposition, to be the business manager for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. Early in 1908, Dabney pursued the idea of consolidation with members of the two cities municipal bodies. In February of 1908 the General Assembly approved an Act of Consolidation subject to the consent of the majority of the voters in the city of Manchester. Dabney went door to door in Manchester selling the consolidation idea. In spite of some opposition, the vote on 4 April 1908 was 513 for consolidation versus 223 against. Effective 15 April 1910, Manchester became a part of the City of Richmond. This addition to the city was regarded as the ace of the eleven expansions to the Capital City prior to 1960. Manchester did not die with consolidation, but prospered as part of Richmond.
Manchester had often been referred to as "Dog Town." The earliest mention is found in an 1887 Richmond Times newspaper article. Benjamin Weisiger writes that there have been a lot of theories but the most common explanation by old-timers refers to the large number of dogs in Manchester "Everybody had a dog." The late Major John Wright said that the name originated among students at old John Marshall High School just before World War I, when the school received an influx of Manchester students after consolidation. Wright felt that it was not intended as a compliment but the term has stuck to the area.
The 1910 Sanborn Map shows extensive commercial development along Hull Street with only a few frame dwellings and commercial structures remaining. By 1910, there were only four small frame structures on the southside of the 1400 block. The north side of the 1500 and 1600 blocks, were almost without any development except for B. P. Vaden's Hardware Store at 1501 and D. D. Harrison's Drug Store at 1503 Hull Street. The Manchester Post Office had been built at the corner of 10th and Hull Streets. Black owned businesses still occupied the commercial section of Hull Street in the 1000, 1100, 1300 and 1400 blocks. Italianate and Colonial Revival styles were the most popular styles for commercial buildings. The Merchants and Mechanics Bank, a two-story Classical Revival building was built in 1915 at 1129 Hull Street. The Standard Drug Company, a locally owned business built a two-story Italianate branch store at 1319 Hull Street in 1910. In 1913, the old Mayo's Bridge (outside of the historic district, connecting Manchester and Richmond) was replaced with a new concrete span, bearing the same name. It is still in use today, with few changes.
World War I & World War II 1917-1945
During World War I, many of Manchester's factories and shipping facilities were enlisted to support the war effort. The suburban area surrounding Manchester, namely Swansboro, Springhill, Woodland Heights and Forest Hill continued to expand. Each of these distinctive neighborhoods shared a common reliance on the Hull Street commercial corridor and access across the Mayo and 9th Street Bridges into Richmond. After World War I, the area continued to thrive until the Great Depression and, like everywhere else, it suffered. When the WPA was created, one of its projects was the building of the Robert E. Lee Bridge in 1934. The WPA bridge was recently replaced by a new bridge, which bears the same name. Cowardin Avenue, extending south from the Lee Bridge forms the western edge of the historic district.
Numerous new buildings were erected in the historic district during this period. New commercial buildings on Hull Street began to "fill in the gaps" between the 1890-1915 commercial development. The Bank of Commerce & Trusts, a three-story, Classical Revival, building at 12th & Hull Streets was opened in 1921. The Venus Theater, a two-story, Classical Revival, movie theater was opened in 1926. American Bank and Trust Company, later to become State Planters Bank, and then Crestar, opened a three-story, Art Deco building at 16th and Hull Streets in 1930. F. W. Woolworth and Company opened a store at 1317 Hull Street in 1935. Commercial development was not limited to the larger scale buildings. In 1926, Martin The Cleaner, Mrs. Susie Shumaker and the Singer Sewing Machine Company opened in adjoining one-story Spanish Colonial storefronts at 1430-32-34 Hull Street.
This era saw the introduction of a new house type, the American Foursquare. The box-form house provided a new plan that eliminated the narrow side-hall so typical in the houses built earlier. Illustrating the influence of the automobile on architecture, the Dr. W. H. Craig House at 1306 Porter Street, built in 1926, is an American Foursquare with a porte cochere so that Dr. Craig could go from his car into the house, thus avoiding inclement weather. Another good example of the American Foursquare-style is the dwelling at 1304 Bainbridge Street, built in 1935. Showing the growing affects of urbanization, apartment buildings were constructed in 1934 at 1400, 1402 and 1404 Bainbridge Street.
The post World War II years have seen the steady decline of the former city of Manchester. Hull Street was still an active retail strip until the 1960s, when suburban development came, most notably, South Side Plaza Shopping Center further out on Hull Street. Scattered site public housing development made its debut east of Hull Street, and along Decatur Street in the 1960s, removing older residential buildings along the eastern edge of the historic district. In the early 1970s Overnite Transportation Company built its corporate headquarters on Semmes Avenue, just outside the historic district. By 1977, J. Harwood Cochrane, founder of the Overnite Transportation Company, had purchased more than 160 parcels in Manchester at a cost of over $8,000,000 and began demolishing the old buildings. The Richmond Times Dispatch reported in 1977 that Overnite's presence had "created an uneasiness in the neighborhood that is heightened by the roar of a bulldozer grinding old houses into oblivion."
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† McRae, Jean, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Manchester Residential and Commercial Historic District, 2005, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.