Posts Tagged ‘Richmond’

The Science Museum of Virginia is one of the p...
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The Jamestown Exposition was held in 1907 to display the very best Virginia had to offer in manufactures, culture and natural materials and the planning pre-dated the event by several years.  In 1906, the State Assembly approved funding for the construction of an exhibition center for the display and presentation of minerals and timber as part of the Jamestown Exposition.  The Science Museum became known as the “State Museum” and opened its doors in 1910 with many of the Exposition exhibits moved to the center.

Over the years, various State agencies contributed to the collection of specimens and other items representing the natural history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The museum however, languished in its development until 1942 when the it was decided to establish an official science museum, which despite it being wartime, was approved in 1943 as the Virginia Museum of Science.  During the war years, funding was restricted and immediately after the war ended, the country experienced recession which stopped any effective development of the museum.

The museum concept was resurrected in 1964 when the Virginia State Assembly once more considered the future of the Science Museum.  After renewed studies, a further recommendation for a museum of science, archaeology and natural science was proposed, but sadly this again died for lack of funding.  The exhibits of the vestige State Museum gathered dust in storage as the collections were broken up and sent to different universities and institutions within the state.

While the State Museum was clearly not achieving a level of priority within the legislature, the scientific community were spurred into action.  Heavy lobbying took place between 1965 and 1967 until the Virginian Governor, Mills Godwin, sponsored the enabling legislation to finally create the State science museum which was approved in 1970.

The fledgling museum next had to find suitable premises and the defunct Broad Street Station provided a suitable temporary home for the exhibits and staff.  Until the science museum proposal, the old historical railway station had been destined for demolition and clearance.  By 1976, Broad Street Station had become the home of the State science museum and Governor Godwin made the dedication of the first exhibition gallery in 1977.  The opportunity was also taken to celebrate the 58th anniversary of Broad Street Station which had been given a renewed lease of life and noted the 70 years of effort to bring the Science Museum of Virginia to fruition.

Expansion took place in the 1980, with the introduction of the most comprehensive crystal exhibition in the world in 1982.  The prior year had seen the unveiling of a remodeled and larger Aquarium and the introduction of the world’s largest analemnic sundial (later listed in the Guinness Book of World Records).

World firsts continued with the exhibition of the Solar Challenger, the first successful solar powered airplane in 1982 and in 1983, the construction finished of the Universe Planetarium & Space Theater.  The Planetarium included the world’s first computer/video projection equipment for a planetarium and for the first time, visitors could take a simulated voyage to the stars in space.

The Science Museum is also home to the world’s largest kugel ball – a kugel ball is a sculptured stone sphere which “floats” on a thin film of water.  As the water lubricates the kugel ball, it allows the heavy stone sphere to float and spin.  In 2003, the Grand Kugel was unveiled unfortunately, the original ball developed a crack and had to be replaced in 2005.

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Richmond is built upon an area originally used by the native Powhattan tribe and they built their own capitol here, also known as Powhattan. The English arrived and established Jamestown close to the area but the land upon which Richmond is built always held an attraction – it was the highest navigable point upriver before the rapids prevented navigation and was a strategic point for both defense and trade.

Enter William Byrd I, an Englishman from Shadwell in the darkest depths of East London but in 1673, he was granted lands around the falls on the James River. He established himself quickly and by hard work, using and building on his already-envious Indian trade connections. In 1704, his son, William Byrd II, inherited the lands and business and continued in his father’s footsteps.

The enterprise was highly successful and in 1737, Richmond was established at the Falls of the James River. The town was named after Richmond in England (itself now a part of London), which is situated on the River Thames – Byrd felt that the view of the James River was very similar to that of the Thames in London, hence the name; Richmond. By 1742, the town layout was completed and Richmond was incorporated in 1742.

The Byrd dynasty was firmly established by dint of fortune and hard work in the founding of the city and interweaving themselves into the trading and political fabric of society. A testament to how closely the Byrd family tied themselves to the machinery of the state is epitomized by the Byrd Organization, known also simply as “the Organization”. This was the vehicle used by Harry F. Byrd, himself a US Senator and a Governor of Virginia active in the first half of the 20th Century.

Harry Byrd established himself politically by engaging with the five main offices in principal counties of the state – the Sheriff, Clerk of the Court, Commonwealth Attorney, County Treasurer and Commissioner of Revenue. It was these “constitutionally elected” offices who effectively controlled which candidates would stand for election and by drawing these officials into Byrd’s political orbit, it became impossible for any candidate to gain election in Virginia without the “nod” from Harry Byrd. Although succeeded by his son as State Senator, the Organization effectively had its grip on state politics broken in the 1960’s over issues such as racial desegregation and disenchanted voters turning to liberalism.

Richmond today is littered with landmarks to the Byrd family and their influence upon the city. Probably the most enjoyable is the Byrd Theater on Cary Street. Providing $1 movie tickets and old style film-going experience in a faithfully renovated old time theater, you can enjoy a real treat on Saturday’s when the giant Wurlitzer organ is played before the performance. For those prepared to drive a while, perhaps the most fitting monument to the influence of the Byrd family is to be seen in the Shenandoah National Park where one of the three visitor centers is named after Harry F. Byrd himself.

Shell Harris, President, Big Oak, a SEO company in Richmond, VA.

photo by theloushe

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On May 17, 1607 an expedition of English explorers landed on the shores of Virginia after a charter was granted to the “Virginia Company” by King James the First.  In keeping with the principals established under Queen Elizabeth the First, the English immediately “claimed” the land and set about renaming everything in sight, much to the considerable annoyance of the local Algonquin native Americans, who duly commenced a sporadic form of guerilla warfare with the adventurous English settlers.

“Ye large rivere”,  used by the English because it had such a deep and steep draught which allowed their ship to be moored close to shore, so close they could tie mooring lines to trees, provided an ideal and secluded base.  Seclusion was necessary as the rival Spaniards sought to exercise control over the entire New World despite the best efforts of the competing French and British.  If discovered, the embryonic settlement, named Jamestown on the James River, both named after the English king, would be assaulted and destroyed. (more…)

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Maymont House by RigbyMel.

This Gilded Age mansion was finished in 1893 by Edgerton Stewart Rogers for Major James Dooley and his wife Sallie. It overlooks the James River, and sits on what used to be 100 acres of farmland. The Dooley’s were the only people to inhabit the estate, and did so for 32 years until Mrs. Dooley’s death in 1925. After her death, the house, carriage house, and lands went to the city and were opened to the public that same year. The Maymont Foundation became responsible for the park in 1975 and maintains it’s authenticity as much as possible. The house is open for tours Tuesdays through Sundays until 4:30pm.

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toy richmond

This is a view down Main Street from Libby Hill Park, just above Poe’s Pub located in Richmond.  I added a little bit of a tilt shift effect to it. Photo by Duncan Minton.

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Monuments to the Past by lawrence_thefourth.

Remains of a bridge that once crossed the James River near Brown’s Island. Sights such as these aren’t uncommon when you visit the older parts of the city.

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Richmond, VA Photograph of The Markel Building, uploaded originally by intheburg

Fondly known as the “Jiffy Pop Building,” this three story aluminum covered building was created by Richmond mid-century architect Haig Jamgochian in 1962. A fun fact, Reynolds Metal supplied the metal, each floor using 555 feet of aluminum, the longest unbroken piece of aluminum siding in the world. The third floor of the building was sledgehammered into it’s shape by Jamgochian in four hours. A contractor later finished the job on the other two floors in 1965.

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