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East End News

Selden Richardson’s Built by Blacks

A.C.O.R.N. has just released Built by Blacks, a new book about Richmond’s Black architecture and neighborhoods.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, most construction relied on slave and free black labor. After the Civil War, African-Americans continued to play a vital role as craftsmen, laborers, and artisans. As black entrepreneurship grew in the early 1900s, it drove a new trend towards both black construction and design. This resulted in the commission of black architects in the city such as Richmond native Ethel Bailey Furman, Virginia’s first African American female architect. Her career, like that of Richmond’s black contractors, reveals the involvement of blacks in the creation of uniquely African American buildings and neighborhoods, each a rich repository of memories of generations. Although many old neighborhoods and major historic sites associated with African American history in the former Confederate capital were lost to poor planning, demolition by neglect or the desire to bury a troubled past, the achievements deserve study and appreciation. With appreciation may come more vigorous efforts to preserve what remains architecturally of some of the most fascinating chapters in American history.

Architectural historian and A.C.O.R.N. Board President, Selden Richardson, wrote “Built by Blacks.” Richardson has been ardent and outspoken advocate for an endangered African American armory in Jackson Ward, one of the last remaining in Virginia. Dr. Maurice Duke, professor emeritus of English at VCU and author of other books and articles on American history and literature is the book’s editor and photographer. Duke is a former photographer and book editor for the Richmond Newspapers, Inc.

“Built by Blacks” may be purchased at Richmond-area bookstores or through A.C.O.R.N. The cost is 19.95 per copy. Proceeds from book sales will benefit A.C.O.R.N., which helps to restore vitality to Richmond’s urban neighborhoods primarily through the return of vacant or abandoned buildings to productive use.

To learn more about “Built by Blacks,” or to purchase a copy CLICK HERE or call 804-422-2148.

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john m 12/17/2006 at 6:48 AM

There is a good article on the project in today’s RTD, “That no more black neighborhoods be lost”.

john m 12/17/2006 at 6:53 AM

Richmond Then and Now has a fascinating archive of old newspaper stories about Fulton from the 1960s and 1970s.

Scott Burger 12/17/2006 at 8:19 AM

Hope the John Miller house is featured in it.

john m 02/09/2007 at 3:43 PM

Here is a more indepth review from Style


Author Selden Richardson to Speak at Black History Museum, Feb. 28th

Richmond, VA– Since its release last December, “Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond, VA.” has been a local bestseller. Fountain Bookstore in historic Shockoe Slip reports the book its top-selling book of 2006. Now reports that the book is #8 at Richmond-area Barnes & Nobles Booksellers. Published by The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods, the book was written by architectural historian and A.C.O.R.N. Board President Selden Richardson. Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Emerius Dr. Maurice Duke was the book’s editor and photographer. writes: “This popular local title details the architectural heritage of African Americans throughout the Richmond area. The heart of the book is not just a detailed history, but an impassioned plea for preservation, before more of this important legacy is lost to time and development.”

Richardson will speak about the book for Black History Month at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center, on Wednesday, Feb. 28th, at 5:30 pm. The museum is located in historic Jackson Ward, 00 East Clay Street. For more information about the event, which is free and open to the public, contact Mary Lauderdale, (804) 780-9093 at the museum or A.C.O.R.N. at

Jamie Hribal 05/27/2018 at 3:21 PM

I’ve got a copy of this book on ebay:


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