Henrico County Historical Society
PO Box 90775   Henrico, VA 23273   (804)501-5682   hchsinfo@yahoo.com
Open by appointment only

Henrico County Historical Society's motto, which is Preserving the Past in the Present for the FutureSkipwith Academy in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.Log Cabin in Tuckahoe District, Henrico County, Virginia.Mankin Mansion in Fairfield District, Henrico County, Virginia.Dorey Barn in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.Bethlehem Church in Brookland District, Henrico County, Virginia.

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News 2010, First Quarter

President's Message

We seldom hear reports of good news anymore but I would like to share with you the good news that the work of HCHS continues, with the help of our wonderful volunteers.

We are very pleased to resume the HCHS Magazine for 2009. The cover image of Pocahontas was designed by Jeanne Nelson Gibbons, Chairman of the Henrico County Bicentennial Commission and one of the founders of the Henrico County Historical Society. Mrs. Gibbons was the first editor of the magazine and the first issue was published in 1976. The issue for 2010 is ready to go to press.

In April, Emmanuel Episcopal Church will celebrate the 150 year anniversary of its founding. Emmanuel is among the oldest churches in Henrico County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As detailed in the HCHS 2009 calendar, John Stewart, of Brook Hill (located directly across Brook Road from Emmanuel) donated the land and building for the church. As part of the celebration, Emmanual, as well as its historic cemetery, will be open for tour.

We hope you will join us for viewing the spectacular memorial stained glass windows of the church and for a guided tour of the cemetery where there is a special section for those mortally wounded in the Civil War Battle of Yellow Tavern. As one of the first cemeteries of the area, it is the final resting place of a number noteworthy people from Henrico.

The manor house of Brook Hill will be also open for tour. The house dates largely from the 1850s and 60s and is a blend of Gothic Revival and Italianate elements. The original 18th century house is said to have been incorporated into the present structure. Also on the grounds are the family cemetery and a slave cemetery as well as the Brook Road Tollhouse, which may be the only surviving building of its type in central Virginia.

Other good, or I should say great, news is that Henrico County is finally getting a Visitors Center as part of the 400th anniversary commemoration, the location of which will be Dabbs House.

As part of a fundraising effort we asked members to donate gently used books for a book sale which was held before our December meeting. We were very pleased with the response and now have a wonderful collection of fiction and non-fiction books by well known authors for sale at very reasonable prices. The books are both paperback and hard cover. The inventory of books is listed on the HCHS website at www.henricohistoricalsociety.org and arrangements can be made for local pick-up or mail delivery. For the avid reader or researcher, it is a great opportunity to purchase books at a fraction of the original price.

We hope you will also join us May 16th on a motor coach tour, as part of the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War, to the newly renovated Ford's Theatre and museum and also to Mr. Lincoln's Cottage. The Cottage has been recently restored and opened to the public. It is where the Lincolns spent the summers while they were in Washington and it is said that many of the President's decisions were made there.

And the year has just begun...

Sarah Pace

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In Search of a Family Gravesite
by John Shuck

A project that members of the HCHS Cemetery Committee have been working on is clearing out and cleaning up Evergreen Cemetery. Vicki and John Stephens, a few other volunteers and I have been working on the project for about a year and a half. The cemetery straddles the Richmond/Henrico County border and is located near the county government center on Nine Mile Road. Our goal is to clear away the growth and uncover headstones that haven't been seen for many years. One headstone we would especially like to find belongs to Pearl Williams, mother of Mr. Welford Williams, a member of the HCHS Executive Board. Mr. Williams accompanied us to Evergreen a while ago and told us about his mother's funeral, which was held in the evening, just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The funeral procession drove down the cemetery road and illuminated her burial site by aiming car lights at the spot. Mr. Williams pointed out where he believed her gravestone would be in relation to the one cleared road in the cemetery. We haven't uncovered her grave site yet, but we think we are getting close.

Our small group of dedicated volunteers is making slow but steady progress. But a recent discovery has provided us with a new source of volunteers to help us in our effort. Many of the schools in the area have some form of community service requirements and we have been working with school officials to send their students out to help. In November, sixteen Virginia Union University students came out on a couple of weekends to clear brush and pick up trash. We expect many of them to come back when the new school term gets underway and weather permits. Also we are partnering with a professor at VCU for a student service-learning course, part of which will include volunteer work at Evergreen. This will start up in mid-February and at the end of February. VCU is arranging for a bus-load of students to come out to work. The National Park Service and Maggie Walker Governor's School has also joined in restoration efforts. The University of Richmond and Randolph Macon College have been contacted and we hope to get volunteers from both of those schools.

Early in our project, Waste Associates Holdings offered to help us in our effort to get the cemetery cleaned up. As our corporate sponsors, they have donated the use of two 40 cubic yard dumpsters which have been essential for hauling out trash and vegetation. A couple of times their employees have come out to work. Recently they have helped us even more with two more dumpsters and a $2,500 grant.

Volunteers are always welcome and if you know of a school group, scout troop, church group, or individuals who would like to help, please let us know. We usually work two to three hours on Saturday mornings, as weather pemits. Please contact John Shuck at 672-8782 or jshuck@rocketmail.com

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Presentation by Donald Gunter about Henrico singer/songwriter Tmmy Edwards, best known for his recording of It's All in the Game. Donation of an emergency sign from the privately-run Fairfield Fire Department by Joseph A. Brandon, Jr.

Recognition of Dudley Lanthrip's many years of service as HCHS treasurer.

At Our Last Meeting...

Our quarterly meeting held on December 6 at the Henrico Theatre, included a gently-used book sale; a recognition of Dudley Lanthrip's many years of service as HCHS's treasurer; the donation of an emergency sign from the privately-run Fairfield Fire Department by Joseph A. Brandon, Jr.; and a presentation by Donald Gunter about Henrico signer/songwriter Tommy Edwards, best known for his recording of "It's All in the Game".

Gently-used book sale.

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You Might Be Interested To Know That...

The Department of Historic Resources, through a federal transportation grant, recognizes significant people, places, and events in the history of women, African Americans, and Virginia Indians through historical highway markers. Among newly approved markers is a sign to be erected in Henrico County highlighting the accomplishments of Ade'le Goodman Clark (1882-1983), who "fought tirelessly to champion both women's rights and the arts in Virginia." The full text of the marker to be located near Emmanuel Episcopal Church reads:

Ade'le Goodman Clark

Ade'le Goodman Clark fought tirelessly to champion both women's rights and the arts in Virginia. Clark gained prominence for prosuffrage speeches and writings as a founding member in 1909 of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. She used her artwork to entice attendants to League events and took leadership roles in national suffrage organizations. In 1916, she and fellow Richmond artist Nora Houston established the Atelier, a training ground for a generation of Virginia artists. Clark promoted both causes througout her life, epitomizing the vital role of women in 20th-century social reform movements. She is buried nearby at Emmanuel Episcopal Church cemetery.

You can learn more about her at www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/destiny/notable/clark.htm.

Curles Neck Farm was among 16 new listings added to the Virginia Landmarks Register by the Deparmtent of Historic Resources. Situated at the heart of the James River's Curles Neck peninsula, it is one of the earliest European-settled sites in Virginia. The farm's legacy extends back to the Curles Neck Plantation, among the oldest, largest, and most productive of the James River Plantations. Today's 156-acre farm, under continuous cultivation since circa 1630, features an 1896 high-style Colonial Revival mansion built in the long-standing tradition of the great Virginia plantation homes and 17 farm-related historic structures, including barns and an evolved Victorian Italianate store and farm office, as well as dwellings for farm laborers in the craftsman architectural style.

The remaining phases of the Virginia Capital Trail have been funded. The trail will connect the Canal Walk in Richmond with Jamestown and Williamsburg along the James River/Route 5 corridor and Colonial Parkway. Currently 15 miles of the trail - the Greensprings, Chickahominy and Charles City Courthouse phases are open to the public. The Sherwood Forest, Charles City Courthouse East, New Market Heights, and Varina phases of the trail are all under development. All 55 miles of the trail should be open by 2014.

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Essay Winners Celebrate Henrico History

On Wednesday, January 13, fiteen young historians were honored for the award-winning essays they entered in Henrico County's Historical Awareness Project. After a brief presentation by historical interpreter Lindsay Gray (seen in the photograph with the students), the winners were recognized, and the first-place winners from the five magisterial districts read their essays. Their topics included Opecancanough, Pocahontas, the Powhatan Indians, Captain John Smith, and Popcorn.

Young historians who were honored for their award-winning essays entered in Henrico County's Historical Awareness Project.

Here are the winners and the schools they represent:

Varina District

James Patrick Peyton (Donahoe)
Katherine Elizabeth Bryant (Seven Pines)
Bryan Charles (Montrose)

Three Chopt District

Morgan Canaan (Three Chopt)
Jonathan Xie Yu (Three Chopt)
Emily Childress (Three Chopt)

Tuckahoe District

Nick Ulrichs (Tuckahoe)
Tyler Hendricks (Tuckahoe)
Lucy Deignan (Tuckahoe)

Fairfield District

Holli Howard (Harvie)
Charmaine Mickens (Ratcliffe)
Anna Sylvers (Chamberlain)

Brookland District

Nicholas Wright (Echo Lake)
Olivia Baugham (Echo Lake)
Philip Hokirk (Lakeside)

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High-dollar Crock Highlights Auction

Ten gallon decorated water cooler sold for $27,500.00 at auction.

The June 2008 issue of the HCHS Newsletter featured an article on nineteenth century stoneware of the James River school. It included works by John Poole Schermerhorn, who ran a manufactory in the Rocketts Landing area and lived at Montezuma, a site on Route 360 just east of I-95. He is buried on the grounds, but his original home and the later built Montezuma are both gone. The small photographs show the second Montezuma and the demolition of the building.

Schermerhorn's pottery, which he produced until 1837, is very desirable to collectors has become obvious at a recent auction held by A.B. Cole & Associates in Suffolk, Virginia. The ten-gallon decorated water cooler pictured here was the featured item. Signed Schermerhorn pieces are rare, and he was obviously proud of this work becaused he signed it on both sides.

John Poole Schermerhorn's signature, rare for the pottery he made.

It is a piece he should have been proud of it because when the auctioneer's hammer dropped, the cooler brought $27,500.00, not counting a 13% buyer's premium.

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It Was Too Early To Retire This Executive

Executive Motor Hotel logo.

You couldn't miss it as you traveled on Broad Street just west of Willow Lawn. The Executive Motor Hotel. It looked like nothing else in the West End-or all of the metropolitan area for that matter. From a little ways off, you saw its three-story curved wall, and as you got closer, your eye was drawn to and through the two-story glass curtain wall that surrounded the open lobby. Through that transparent expanse of glass, you could see the open cantilevered stone stairs jutting from the curved paneled wall, seemingly hovering above the ground-level fountain. This flashy, space-age, somewhat playful buildng was quite a site in staid, conservative 1960s Richmond.

It's quite a different site now with a chain link fence surrounding a bare lot where the work of a wrecking ball has been scraped away by bulldozers and carried off in dump trucks. Soon, the lot will be filled with up to 45 residential units and up to 10,000 square feet of office and retail space. It is a project designed to accommodate people with developmental disabilities.

What will surely be a gain for the developmentally disabled, however, is a loss for lovers of Henrico's past and of significant architecture. And the Executive, which opened in 1960, was a significant piece of architecture. Henry Stern , who also developed Innsbrook, hired Miami architect Normal Giller to design the area's first major hotel outside of downtown.

What Giller produced was a stunning piece of Miami Modern, or MiMo, architecture, a style of which Giller was a major proponent. This unique, exuberant, glitzy style arose in Miami in the 1950s-60s. Among other features, MiMo embraced a sense of asymmetry, triangular roof lines, and dramatic canopies like the Executive's porte-cochere. As Necee Regis wrote in the Boston Globe, "At a time when most architects were embracing the Bauhaus ethic of "less is more" to produce rectilinear forms in glass, steel, and concrete, architects in Miami, perhaps influenced by the sultry, climate and vibrant light, were putting an exotic twist on the modernist aesthetic with curved surfaces, bright colors, concrete cantilevers, and circular holes in walls, like slabs of cement Swiss cheese." Perhaps, the best known example of MiMo is Miami's Fountainbleau, designed by Morris Lapidus.

During its lifetime, the Executive played host to wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, teen fashion shows, and conventions ranging from the First Rhododendron Flower Show School of the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society of America in 1963 to the first conference of the Virginia Government Finance Officers' Association in 1968. The Executive even sponsored James Hylton's #48 Chevrolet in NASCAR's 1977 Capital City 400 at what is now Richmond International Raceway.

Unfortunately, the Executive Motor Hotel's race has been run, ending in a wreck. She will be missed.

Want to Learn More About Norman Giller and MiMo Architecture?

Check out a YouTube video about Charles Giller's work in Miami at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpeUCSGAua0. You might also be interested in reading Nomral Giller's Designing the Good Life.

Mementoes of a Miami Modern Hotel in Its Heyday

Postcard depicting Executive Motor Hotel.

This postcard shows an artist's rendition of the Executive Motor Hotel in the 1960s, with its curved wall, glass curtain facade, and concrete porte-cochere, whose lines restate those of the two-story glass facade. The back of the postcard carries the following text: The resort-type hotel in the heart of Metropolitan Richmond. The Executive Motor Hotel is truly unique in Richmond - provides superb accommodations. Ideal for conventions and sales meetings. With its lighted swimming pool...its beautifully landscaped grounds...its cascading waterfalls and glamorous atmosphere, a visit to The Executive is an adventure in itself!

Place setting of Executive's silver plate. Dinner plate and butter pat in the Executive's pattern.

Other photos depict room keys and key tags, a dinner plate and butter pat in the Executive's pattern, a place setting of the motor hotel's silver plate, and finally the motel in mid-demolition.

Executive room keys and key tags. The Executive motel in mid-demolition.

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The Duel That Wasn't

Sources: The Life of Edgar Allan Poe by George E. Woodberry; Pen of Fire: John Moncure Daniel by Peter Bridges

Our last newsletter carried an article about the 1864 duel in Henrico County between Richmond edictor John Moncure Daniel and R.C. Elmore of the Confederate States Treasury Department. It was one of the nine duels involving Daniel - one that went unprosecuted because no one would testify in court. However, one duel that people apparently were willing to talk about, never actually took place.

Sarah Helen Whitman.

It as in 1848, and Edgar Allan Poe, who would die the following year, was in Richmond. He heard that Daniel had made disparaging remarks about him and his relationship (there was actually a brief engagement) with Sarah Helen Whitman, a poet and widow. Poe sent a challenge to Daniel, and in anger, and apparently a bit under the influence, he went to the examiner's office to seek satisfaction. Daniel, it seems, met him in the office, and with two pistols ready on his desk, suggested a speedy settlement of the affair. This apparently sobered Poe up rather quickly, at least long enough to settle the matter pacefully and join Daniel and a few others at a tavern.

Edgar Allen Poe. John Moncure Daniel.

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Now You Know

Clamp used to clamp candle to Christmas tree branch long ago.

The "What do you know?" mystery object pictured at the top of these photos was especially chosen for the December newsletter to celebrate the Christmas season. Little clamps like it were used to attach candles to Christmas trees in the days before electricity. The tin clip clamped to a branch, and while family members often held buckets of water to combat potential fires, the candles were lit. The second picture shows candleholders with counterweights attached. These ensured that the candle remained in an upright position.

Pictured is a small brass object.  This household item is three inches in diameter, and it is one inch deep.

What Do You Know?

Pictured at the right is a small brass object. This household item is three inches in diameter, and it is one inch deep.

If you know what it was used for, email your answers to jboehling@verizon.net. All correct respondents will be recognized and congratulated. Suggestions for future "What do you know?" topics will be gladly accepted at the same email address.

Pictured is a small brass object.  This household item is three inches in diameter, and it is one inch deep. Pictured is a small brass object.  This household item is three inches in diameter, and it is one inch deep.

After an Earlier "What Do You Know?", Somebody Wanted to Know...

Victorian lace bobbin - large size of set of three. Victorian lace bobbin - small size of set of three.

Member Jane Fogle saw the tatting bobbins in an earlier "WDYK?" and wanted to know what these old sewing items were. We consulted Martha Patterson at Antiques Boutique in the Shockoe Slip, and she identified them as "very nice Victorian lace bobbins." They are sterling silver and were used to thread ribbon through eyelets in lace. Usually, they came in sets of three, and this set appears to be missing the middle-sized piece.

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News 2010: First Quarter
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