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A few Richmond stories


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I was looking through Richmond City Watch and had my memory jogged from when I lived there and worked for a commercial landscape irrigation installer. Here's a few of the things I remember from the late '80's Richmond construction scene.

The Arboretum. Did a lot of work at various buildings there but the only story that really sticks out about it is one of our Cambodian workers getting chased by a goose while trying to steal it's eggs down by the pond.

Centre Court. We had finished repairing a broken water pipe that the electricians broke down by the road and were standing there waiting for the pressure to build back up when it exploded and sent a shower of mud on all the engineers and project managers. Us working class grunts got a good laugh out of that.

Gateway Center. Only worked there one day. It was god-awful cold, about 25 degrees. Only thing I remember about that site.

Innsbrook. A couple stories from there. I mostly did service calls there since most of the irrigation sytems were installed when the offices were originally built. Another irrigation company had installed the system at the Pavillion area but we had the service contract. I was sent out there one Friday morning to do some minor repairs. I did what I was told to do and left. The one thing they didn't tell me to do was to check the timers. Apparently the timers were knocked off and instead of turning on at 1am like it's supposed to do the irrigation system popped on at around 6pm. Right in the middle of a concert with a few thousand people on the lawn. I wish I had been there to see that.

Another time on a service call there I had the cops called on me. There was a leak somewhere in the system at the Wheat First Secrities Building. My brother was in the control room turning on the various zones as I walked around the grounds looking for the leak. Some one in the offices saw me wandering around the parking lot and thought I looked suspicious and called the cops. I explained to them what I was doing there and it was no big deal.

Another time there a coworker cut through a fiber-optic cable along Nuckols Road while digging a trench to lay some pipe. Needless to say there were quite a few unhappy people that day.

Westerre. We were about 90% finished working there when someone from VDOT showed up and said they were getting ready to widen Broad Street. That was the first that we had heard of that and had already layed hundreds of feet of pipe along Broad St. So we had to dig all that up and relocate it. A major pain in the ass.

At the moment that's all I can remember. Some other projects I worked on were:


Trigon HQ

Parham Place

Wella Shampoo plant

Phillip Morris's Bermuda Hundred plant

And tons of residential projects and small commercial projects.

Anyone else have any construction stories? I have more but I can't remember exactly where they took place.

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Burt my grandmother has alot of big art stuff in New York but not so sure its still there. My grandmother had some paintings at a gallery in Chelsea. She's been painting since the 60's and has sold paintings to some big time wealthy people in the state of VA. She's sold paintings to the former owner of overnight trucking Harwood Chochrane and a very wealthy man in southwest virginia that owns a coal mine names smiley ratliff. He has a Rolls Royce for every day of the week.

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I as well...

Remember Gene from RCW? He helped in there somewhere with the Fulton related section.

I remember Gene. He was my contemporary and we chatted frequently at RCW about Louisina Street, the Star movie theater and other Fulton landmarks.

What I mostly remember about Fulton was the streetcar trestle connecting the end of East Marshall Street to Government Road on Fulton Hill. When I lived in Ginter Park as a kid, we would take the trolley from the junction of Chamberlayne Ave and Brookland Park Blvd for a 14 cent round trip via North Avenue, the First Street viaduct, Broad Street, the Marshall Street viaduct across Shockoe Bottom and the trestle across Fulton Bottom.

The Marshall Street viaduct was directly above the City Jail, and there was an elevator from the viaduct to 18th street.

I hope Gene is still around.

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Off of Route 10 and west of Chesterfield County Courthouse is Pocahontas State Park. A few miles beyond the park is Beach, Virginia which used to be a little railroad community at Beach, Bundle and Spring Run Roads in western Chesterfield County..

Back in the 19th Century when coal mining was a major business in the Midlothian district of Chesterfield, there was a "gravity" rail line from the mines to boat docks in Manchester.

What I did not know until reading the following RTD story is that there was another rail line (circa 1890) running from James River docks at Bermuda Hundred close to the confluence of The James and Appomattox Rivers all the way to the western border of Chesterfield County.

And it had the colorful name of Bright Hope Railway, later called the Tidewater & Western. Eventually, it stretched 89 miles to Farmville, Va., but the line between Bermuda Hundred and Beach was torn up in 1917 and melted to help the World War I war effort.

It is not mentioned in the story, but I suspect the Tidewater & Western connected to what is now the Norfolk & Southern line somewhere near Mosby in Powhatan County where it continued to Farmville.

Anyway, the subject of this story is that John and Kimberly Hughes have bought the former site of Beach and are renovating the tiny village.

From today's RTD:


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The CHIHULY exhibit opens at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on October 20th.

Meanwhile, the glass artist's 'Red Reeds' are on display in the Sculpture Garden's lagoon just outside of the BEST CAFE on the Museum's ground level. BEST CAFE offers light fare while AMUSE, the Museum's fine dining room, is located on the third level directly above BEST and has the same view of the Sculpture Garden.

From today's Richmond dot com:


FYI, the large White House look-a-like opposite VMFA was built as a home for Confederate Widows. When the last widow passed on, VMFA purchased the large building which now serves as administrative offices.

NOTE: This should be in the Arts in Richmond thread. Sorry. The little gray cells are deteriorating.

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Ralph White is one of the most revered men in Richmond.  He is retiring as director of The James River Park System.


I found this video while rummaging through the National Theatre thread.  Why it is there, I don't know, but it is Mr. White discussing the beauties of Belle Isle.


Click to enlarge so you can see it full screen.  




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