Friday, December 15, 2017

Beautiful Richmond Part III: Civilized Commerce

Richmond, for reasons that I'm not exactly sure, has quite an inventory of beautiful commercial buildings downtown. Was it that, for many years, the city was so forgotten in time that no one cared enough to tear stuff down for urban renewal? Or was it is that Gilded Age architecture was so massive and extravagant that people couldn't bear to wreck it and it would cost too much anyway?
Living downtown, I'm reminded of childhood trips there around Christmas to Thalhimers, Miller & Rhodes, Berry Burke and others for presents or to visit Richmond DOR poo-bah Aunt Sarah. For years, these blocks were a blight but now, one by one, they appear to be coming back. Some of the monumental bank facades now house condos and apartments now while Miller & Rhodes is a Hilton. Old stores and restaurants are gradually being occupied by new restaurants but I must admit that retail (ironically) has lagged in this old commercial district. A grocery store or Target would come in very handy and there are some lovely buildings that could house them!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Beautiful Richmond Part II: I've Found a New Barbershop!

Just as I found a quality $10 hair cut back in my hometown, I came across this gem a block or two from my apartment. Housed in the ancient  John Marshall hotel (there are MANY such buildings in downtown Richmond), the barbershop dates from the 1920s and has retained most of the fixtures including throne-like barber chairs and stations holding Barbisol disinfectant and neck towels. Nothing to hoity about it, the long-time owner is quick with a handshake and friendly greeting and barbers that know how to cut hair. Not bad for $20....Hey, I'm in the big city now!
Many of the towering buildings in the downtown financial district are a century old. In the subterranean level of one of these beautiful buildings are rows of store-fronts from back when retail space was a little more in demand. These are beautiful storefronts but the only one occupied is a lonely time capsule of  a barber shop, open when the owner feels like it. In a way, its even more cool than the John Marshall shop!