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RICHMOND
Manchester Industrial Historic District

Bridge to Manchester Industrial District

Industrial 14th St. Bridge by Night
historical postcard

Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

 

Manchester Industrial Historic District is located at the falls of the James River on the south bank.  The industrial area of Manchester developed between 1880 and 1949 with a wide variety of high quality masonry buildings, solidly constructed and handsomely detailed.  The district is significant for its pattern of uninterrupted commercial and industrial enterprise historically associated with the former independent city of Manchester.

As early as the 1730s, developers, who recognized the commercial potential in the vicinity of the falls, built textile, tobacco, and flour mills, and warehouses along the James River.  The Manchester Commons, mill ruins, and segments of the canal and millraces survive as tangible reminders of the progressive industrial development that has characterized the area for more than three centuries.  The steady industrial development of Manchester is not surprising given its numerous commercial advantages: easy access to a deep-river port, an abundant supply of raw materials, the early establishment of railroad depots, a continuous influx of immigrants who provided cheap labor, and a growing statewide population that constituted a market for manufactured goods.  The Manchester Industrial Historic District also symbolizes Richmond’s effort to industrialize and diversify the region’s agrarian economy in the wake of the devastation the city experienced because of the Civil War.  The buildings in the district exemplify Richmond’s emergence as an industrial city of the New South.

Most of the buildings date the period between 1880 to 1949 and are fine examples of commerical and industrial architecture of this period.  Visually cohesive in scale and materials, the district's high quality masonry historic buildings reflect a variety of architectural styles.  A majority have finely articulated brickwork and distinctive architectural detailing.  Styles represented in the area include Art Deco, Beaux Arts Classicism, Commercial, Italianate, Moderne, and Queen Anne.  Most buildings have few alterations on their exteriors since the time of their construction.

Built in 1880 for the William G. Green Carriage & Wagon Makers, a business that enjoyed a relatively long-lived prosperity, the oldest surviving building in the district is at 18 West 7th Street.  This two-story brick building has a hipped roof, simple wood cornice, segmental arches, and six-over-six wood, double-hung sash windows.  The carriage door is filled in with brick, but the attached outhouse remains intact.  A faint but legible shadow of the Green Carriage & Wagon advertisement is visible on the west elevation façade.

Manchester Industrial

Manchester Industrial Historic District
City of Richmond Department of Community Development

Organized in 1894, the Southern Railroad was the third railway system in Richmond.  The elegant c. 1919 Queen Anne style Southern Railroad Depot is at 102 Hull Street.  The one-story depot has fine Flemish bond brickwork with glazed headers, as well as quoins at the corners, and a splayed tile roof supported by decorative brackets.  Architectural details include corbelled chimneys, three-course brick arches over windows, stone sills, and unusual sixteen-over-two wood double-hung sash windows.  The primary north elevation has symmetrical entrance doors separated by the original ticket window.  After the depot closed, the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society became the building’s owner. 

A handsome collection of brick industrial buildings lies in the area bounded by Hull, Decatur, 2nd and 4th Streets.  Constructed for the Crawford Manufacturing Company, a diversified manufacturer specializing in fabric novelties, awnings, marine textiles, and automobile seat covers, the buildings at 17, 27, and 104 East 2nd and 300 Decatur date from between 1915 and 1928.  
 
The A. S. Kratz Folding Paper Box Factory at 320 Hull Street from 1915 centers around a vast, single-story manufacturing area bracketed by two three-story corner blocks containing office space.  The company expanded the building to the south and west as business grew. Additions include the 1949 shipping and finishing room at the rear of the original warehouse and a second addition on the west side dating from c. 1955.  Today, the building recalls two distinct moments in the history of Manchester’s industrial architecture:  the early 20th century when companies relied on a traditional vocabulary of stringcourses and pediments to reflect their success, and the mid-20th century when sleek lines, machine-made brick, and fixed-pane aluminum windows placed a fresh emphasis on foresight and technical innovations.

Many buildings in the district continue to this day to serve industrial purposes, but a growing number are being adapted for residential uses.  A burgeoning community of artists now is established in the area, renewing public interest in the historic resources in the neighborhood. 


Plan your visit
The Manchester Industrial Historic District is adjacent to Highway 301roughly bounded to the north by the James River, to the east by Stockton and Everett Sts., by McDonough and Perry Sts. to the west, and Commerce Rd. and 7th St. to the south. The district is located across the James River from downtown and is accessible via crossings at 9th and 14th Sts.
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