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Historic Beginnings

In 1890, Virginia Randolph Ellett opened a small school out of her home on Grace Street in downtown Richmond. Her students, many of whom came from the families of Richmond’s influential leaders, always referred to her as “Miss Jennie.” Beginning…

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Richmond as a City of Springs

Richmond used to be a city absolutely full of springs. There were springs on Capitol Square, springs at Chimborazo, Forest Hill, and Byrd Parks.  In 1872, a man named W.G. Taylor bought a 40-acre Southside estate named Fonticello. Like a lot of…

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Roots of Environmental Protection

One day in early 1975, an employee at the Life Sciences Products Company in Hopewell began trembling uncontrollably. The shaking didn’t stop.  Other workers at the same chemical company previously had suffered bouts of blindness, joint pain, slurred speech, tremors,…

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Recording History in a Man’s World

The first female news photographer in Richmond launched her career in the 1890s. Though criticized for working in a male-dominated profession – and criticized by many for working at all – Edyth Carter Beveridge ignored public opinion and did what she…

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Hospital Born in a Hotel

One hundred years after Richmond’s founding, two Virginia doctors organized the first medical school here. They selected Richmond because of its large population of African Americans, both enslaved and free. At a time when there was no legal way to acquire…

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When a Famous Author Came to Town

In 1842, a year before the publication of his book, A Christmas Carol, the world-famous British author Charles Dickens came to Richmond during an American tour. For his 3-day visit, he stayed at the new and luxurious Exchange Hotel at 14th…

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Cowboys and Indians in Richmond

In the thirty-seven years that “Buffalo” Bill Cody ran his world-famous Wild West Show, he brought it to Richmond nine times from 1888 through 1913. These visits from the former Pony Express rider created weeks of anticipation. Cody’s romanticized dramatizations of…

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Ghost Town No More!

By the late 1960s, Shockoe Slip had become a rundown, little-known part of town. The decline of the nearby canal and tobacco warehouses had left the once-bustling commercial center mostly vacant in a changing economic landscape.  At a time when…

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Healing Powers of Fresh Air

One of the deadliest diseases in human history has been known by many names: phthisis, tabes, schachepheth, consumption, and white death. A highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs, the diseases now known as tuberculosis has plagued humans for at least…

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Water, Water Everywhere

On June 19, 1972, a weak Category One hurricane hit the gulf coast of Florida. By the time it reached Virginia a few days later, Hurricane Agnes was just a tropical storm, although its fourteen inches of rain combined with…

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