Views
6 months ago

THE TIGER AND THE TORCH look book

PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE MEET IN RICHMOND, VA BUILT BY BLACKS BOOK Through books like Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond, readers can discover the overlay of the past, present and future. The Leigh Street Armory is the castle-like structure on its front cover. Picture after picture alludes to the former grandeur of Richmond’s vibrant Black community. Recent photos of buildings call attention to the need for revitalization. Author Selden Richardson’s book played a notable role in generating more awareness and support and the completion of a long overdue renovation. Image Credit: Built by Blacks Book Cover by Marshall Hudson For years the armory was abandoned and although it had some repairs and upgrades, a lot of work still needed to be done. Through strategic partnerships the armory was finally restored and once again ready to serve its community. In 2016, the doors opened and the building took on new life as Virginia’s Black History Museum and Cultural Center. THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 82 Relics do not revitalize themselves. At the beginning, Selden uses an interesting story about Emily Winfree and the place she called home. The preface that follows lays the basic groundwork for the rest of the book. In doing so, it highlights the crucial role that people have in saving and preserving our relics. Addition to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (Renovated Leigh Street Armory, Richmond, VA)

Preface of Built by Blacks: African American Architecture & Neighborhoods in Richmond _________________________________________________________ “This book traces its origins to a visit to the offices of the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (ACORN)108133 on a rainy Friday afternoon in late 2002 by two frantic residents of the Manchester area of south Richmond. The two warned that a small cottage on Commerce Road was scheduled to be demolished the following Monday. As evidence of the significance of the structure, they presented a copy of the original deed showing the conveyance of the house immediately after the Civil War to a black woman, who signed the document with an “X”. The ACORN staff felt that the woman, named Emily Winfree, may have once been a slave. The architecture of the house itself echoed a typical design of a slave quarters; a single-story frame dwelling of two rooms separated by a dividing wall and a central chimney serving both rooms. Initial research revealed that this was the lone surviving structure in what had been a thriving African American community in lower Manchester. In modern Richmond there is a scarcity of brick versions of this kind of home, let alone a frame example. ACORN saw the rescue of the Winfree Cottage as clearly in line with its mission and as an advocate for old Richmond neighborhoods and took steps to avert the eminent demolition of the house. The Richmond Slave Trail Commission assisted in the rescue by arranging to relocate the house to a vacant lot owned by the city at Seventeenth and Broad Streets. The crisis having passed, ACORN researchers began to investigate Winfree and her house. A remarkable story was revealed, opening a window onto little-known aspects of antebellum cultural history. The cottage did indeed belong to a former slave and was the sole survivor of the neighborhood she knew. Her onetime owner and the father of her five children, purchased the home for her for $800 in 1866. Winfree raised her children in one room of the tiny house while sometimes renting out the other room to make ends meet. Researchers discovered Emily Winfree’s prominent gravesite in Maury Cemetery in south Richmond and her photograph in the collection of the Library of Virginia. They studied the complicated and interwoven genealogy of the Winfree families, black and white. In this process of discovery, Winfree’s story unfolded and became emblematic of the experiences of thousands of Richmonders who populated the city before and after the Civil War.” 134 _________________________________________________________ THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 83