"Storage Room"

Two of Mrs. Walker’s granddaughters, Mamie Evelyn and Elizabeth, shared a bedroom in the back of the house adjacent to their parents’ room. Both rooms were part of the significant expansion construction of 1922. When their parents, Melvin and Ethel, divorced in 1928, the two sisters, and their brother Armstead, moved out with their mother. At this point, Maggie L. Walker converted the girls’ former bedroom into a storage space for some of the family’s bulky, unused furniture, fixtures, and travel trunks. Also in 1928, Mrs. Walker consulted her renowned architect friend, Charles Russell, on the subject of improving her access to the second floor. Mr. Russell then contracted Richmond’s J.A. Umlauf Company for the construction of a hand-operated elevator. Mrs. Walker could thus enter the lift from a downstairs playroom and exit upstairs through the storage room before making her long journey down the narrow hallway to her bedroom. The price of purchase and installation was a steep $1,625 (more than $20,000 in today’s money) which might explain why Mrs. Walker opted for the cheaper hand-operated elevator instead of an electric model.