Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond, Virginia by Selden Richardson
Celebrating Black History Month at the VCU Libraries
Reviewed by Ray Bonis, Archival Assistant for Collections, Special Collections and Archives
Although the documentation by historians and archivists of Richmond's African American history began in earnest in the 1970s, a complete monographic history of black Richmond has yet to be written. A new work published this year on the city's architectural history comes close. It covers subjects ranging from slavery and the emergence of freed peoples and their leaders to the city's African American churches and once vibrant neighborhoods.
Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond, Virginia was published by the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (A.C.O.R.N.), the highly visible and successful local preservationist group which has purchased and renovated a number of vacant and abandoned properties in the city. Their interest in Richmond's African American history, including their preservation advocacy of structures built before and after the Civil War, led to the publication of this book. Built by Blacks was written by Selden Richardson, former Archivist for Architectural Records at the Library of Virginia, who currently serves as the President of the Board of A.C.O.R.N. Dr. Maurice Duke, a professor emeritus of English at VCU and a local historian, provided many of the photographs for the book. Archival images from Richardson's own collection are also used as illustrations.
Built By Blacks provides the architectural history of many Richmond landmark buildings and biographies of several Richmond African American architects and builders. Richardson's plea throughout the book is for city leaders and planners to preserve what is left of black Richmond. He writes in the introduction that the loss of "Richmond's architectural fabric, from iconic downtown offices and stores to humble bungalows is being compounded constantly." Readers of Built By Blacks will appreciate even more the loss of Richmond's historic cityscape.
Cabell Library – Special Collections and Archives E 185.92 R53 2007
Cabell Library E 185.92 R53 2007