Virginia has a long and fascinating history, but how much do you know about the Old Dominion? Authors Maurice Robinson, Paula Green, and Sean Toler will discuss some forgotten or largely unknown facts about our city and state!
Hidden Early History of Richmond by Maurice Robinson
Maurice Robinson is a native of Virginia and worked for the RF&P Railroad in Virginia for twenty-one years. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has resided for the last thirteen years in historic Midlothian, Virginia.
Richmond’s Civil War history is familiar to every local and visitor, but fewer know the stories of the city’s early days. Did you know that some of the area’s earliest settlers were Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in France? Major John Clarke designed many of Richmond’s first public buildings, but did you know that he was one of the masterminds behind the area’s early industry as well? Tredegar Iron Works was the arsenal of the Confederacy, but Richmond-area foundries at Westham and Bellona supplied weapons to the armies of the Revolution as well. Richmond’s first penitentiary was designed by Benjamin Latrobe before his term as architect of the Capitol. Local author Maurice Robinson narrates the tales of early Richmond’s seven hills and beyond.
The Great Virginia Flood of 1870 by Paula Green
Paula Green is an environmental historian with an MA in public history from James Madison University. Her undergraduate work and training as an anthropologist and archaeologist inform part of this work. In addition to her cross-discipline training, Paula has worked in the JMU Libraries for more than twelve years as an Interlibrary Loan borrowing specialist. Her daily work includes quests to find obscure research material for her patrons. This is her first book.
In the fall of 1870, a massive flood engulfed parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. What began near Charlottesville as welcome rain at the end of a drought-plagued summer quickly turned into a downpour as it moved west and then north through the Shenandoah Valley. The James, Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers rose, and flooding washed out fields, farms and entire towns. The impact was immense in terms of destruction, casualties and depth of water. The only warning that Richmond, downriver from the worst of the storm, had of the wall of water bearing down on it was a telegram. In this account, public historian Paula Green details not only the flood but also the process of recovery in an era before modern relief programs.
Forgotten Virginia: Abandoned Places and Things in the Old Dominion by Sean Toler
Sean Toler is an amateur photographer living in the Richmond, Virginia, area. He got into photography as soon as he had a 35mm point-and-shoot camera as a teenager. He took many a sunrise or sunset photo with it; in fact, he still photographs them to this day. His involvement with abandonment photography began, and remains, something personal for him. As a teenager, his first real job was at an old country store. That country store no longer exists and unfortunately, he never thought to photograph it. He now hopes that by capturing old buildings such as this on camera, he is helping preserve part of history as more and more of these old buildings succumb to weakness and decay or are demolished in the name of progress.
New construction seems to be taking place all around. In every direction, there is another shopping center, neighborhood, or business park being built. With all the commotion and progress, it can be easy to forget what was. We tend to neglect the old, abandoned buildings around us, leaving them to decay or suffer a brutal demise by the cold, hardened steel of heavy equipment. In the world of photography, there are those who seek out these forgotten pieces of history in hopes of capturing what’s left on camera, thereby preserving them in their own way. Author Sean Toler is one such photographer. Traveling the roads of Virginia, he has photographed numerous old, abandoned buildings in an effort to make them last a little longer. Knowing that some of the buildings he has photographed no longer stand, he is grateful that he was able to capture them before they disappeared from the landscape forever.