Richmond Locomotive, Virginia

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Nighttime view of the movie complex after the project. Additional buildings once existed, but only the Brass and Iron Foundries remained at the time of rehabilitation. (Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Architects, Richmond, VA.)
Standard 1 of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation states that a property shall be used for its historic purpose, or be put in a new use that requires the least amount of change to its historic character. One of the biggest challenges for property owners is finding economically viable functions for structures that have out-lived their intended purposes…this often takes a bit of creativity. A perfect new use for the two remaining buildings that make up the former Richmond Locomotive and Machine Works Buildings in Richmond, VA - the Iron Foundry (built in 1907 and expanded in 1917) and the Brass Foundry (built c. 1927) - is their conversion to movie theaters for a prominent national movie chain.
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Top: Interior of the Iron foundry after the project showing the ticket counter. Bottom: One of the theater spaces with the historic industrial character of the foundry retained. (Both photos courtesy of Commonwealth Architects, Richmond, VA.)
The “Movieland at Boulevard Square” opened in 2009 with the rehabilitation of the larger of the two foundries, the Iron Foundry, for more mainstream movies, followed by the later opening of a smaller movie house in the Brass Foundry for the showing of independent films. Collectively, seventeen auditoriums with stadium-seating occupy these buildings, which incorporate large and small spaces for viewing movies. The community may also rent these areas (along with party rooms) for private use and patronize cafés selling selections of food, beer and wine.

Although their open interiors were subdivided for showing films, the industrial character of the buildings is still clearly evident after the fact. Windows were sympathetically repaired, or replaced where they were missing entirely - many had been filled with concrete block; modern fiberglass siding was removed revealing exterior brick; structure was exposed on the inside (steel trusses, columns, masonry partitions, etc.); concrete floors were uncovered; and any new features added are appropriate to the buildings’ former industrial uses. These theaters are Richmond’s first new movie houses in approximately 40 years, so they are desired destinations and business is thriving. Renovation expenses for this project were $1,813,000, and the project was certified in February of 2013.

Last updated: October 13, 2017