Welcome to the Old Dominion
Richmond, Virginia, is among the oldest cities in America, but it is a city in crisis. It is a mainstream city in a lover’s quarrel with itself. It wants to be a citadel of American history and has every right to such a title, but it also wants to be a modern American city expressing inclusion for all, in as many ways as possible.
No history book accurately measures the fathoms of turmoil, sorrow, and tough times the people of Richmond suffered after it became the capital of the confederacy in 1861. For today, however, let’s put aside the deep seated and systemic prejudice that festered in the halls of government. Those are topics for another discussion at a different time and in a different forum.
It is undeniable that the citizens of Virginia have completed a very long list of superlatives; one worth mentioning is that eight of our American presidents were native Virginians.
Virginia is also in the top ten of states where “firsts” have occurred: the first whiskey distillery was founded in 1621, the first Man-o-War gunship was built in Virginia. Williamsburg was the site of the first public theatre in America. In 1634 the first free public school was built in Hampton. Other firsts attributed to Virginia are the first “streaker” and ChapStick.
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Among Virginia’s populous are some of America’s best architects. You may have heard of one – his name was Thomas Jefferson.
It is fairly common knowledge that Jefferson was responsible for the University of Virginia, but it is less well known that he also designed the Virginia state capital building (on the card left, above along with Richmond City Hall in the background.) On the right is Old Saint John’s Church at Broad and 25th Street in Richmond, where Patrick Henry defiantly proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Residential construction is a challenge for most urban architects because space is limited, but in cities as big as Richmond, that is more than 62 square miles in area, the restrictions are less strict.
Some homes that are worthy of note and are on postcards
Since 1813 and known as the Virginia Governor’s Executive Mansion it is the oldest governor’s mansion in the country in use for its original purpose. It is a federal style building designed by Alexander Parris. The newly elected (2021) governor will be the 57th resident.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall was from Richmond. His stately home dates to 1790; he lived there for until his death in 1835.
Franklin Street was a posh address for many years for those involved in Richmond’s social matters. Rows of three- and four-story homes were less than two miles from Capital Square.
As many historians have claimed, a city’s most colorful history is in its cemetery. Two cemeteries of special note are in Richmond. The Hollywood Cemetery in the south-central portion of the city and the U. S. National Cemetery (now closed for future interments) three miles east of Richmond on Williamsburg Road, where more than 11,000 veterans are buried.
Other postcards that illustrate the history of Richmond include a set of newspaper published card by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and literally dozens of white-border cards. Examples of both below show Lewis Ginter’s Jefferson Hotel (opened in 1895 and still serving guests) and the Henry Clay statue on the Capital Square campus.
[Editor’s note: If you enjoy reading biographical history, find the story of Lewis Gintner. He was born in New York and at age 19 moved to Richmond. He made and lost four unique fortunes in very diverse fields. He is a truly fascinating individual.]
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Richmond has been a destination city for government, commerce, medicine, and education for nearly three centuries. These are still the reasons that many people travel to Richmond, but one other is a postcard event sponsored by the Old Dominion Postcard Club.
The second weekend in November the club holds a show in nearby Chester, Virginia, on the campus of John Tyler Community College.
Three cheers to Mike Uzel, the show chairperson for his organization and his fellow club members for their friendly and knowledgeable approach toward fellow collectors
Twenty dealers gathered this year for the two-day event. Most are Virginia residents but eight other states were also represented.
Club members of Old Dominion are – like members of most clubs – proud of their collections and participation in exhibits held during their shows is the only annual opportunity to earn bragging-rights. At this year’s show the number of boards in the exhibit was slightly less than usual but the quality of the exhibits was very high. A few of the standouts were: Railroad Stations (the Judge’s Award), Hollis University (First Place Ribbon), Hackney’s Restaurant in Atlantic City, Billboards on Postcards, Allo! Allo!! (a charming collection of girls on telephones), Back Them (an equally charming collection of bare bottoms), The Eyes Have It (my first ever time seeing a “back-lighted postcard exhibit” featuring eyes), A Drive Through the Weeds, and Tuck’s Chicago Attractions complete set (Second Place Ribbon).
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It should be noted that Chester, Virginia, today is a bustling suburban community just off of Interstate 95 at Exit 61 where Route 10 intersects the Interstate. But seventy years ago it was probably not much more than a wide-spot in U. S. Route 1. A favorite postcard thing for me is to find a postcard of the towns in which postcard shows are held. This poor sample of Roadside America is the best of the lot this time, but it provided a good laugh!
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Mark your calendar for November 2022. Richmond (Chester) Virginia is worth the trip.
Postcard History congratulates Old Dominion Postcard Club for its enthusiastic contributions to our hobby.