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Real Estate RVA Biz & Gov

Cast and Wrought

From Robert P.Winthrop’s Cast and Wrought – The Architectural Metalwork of Richmond, Virginia:

Richmond’s architectural cast iron is second only to that of New Orleans, yet it is hardly recognized. Over 130 porches and balconies, hundreds of yards of elaborate fencing, as well as scores of cast iron front buildings remain in the city today and make up the bulk of the city’s architectural metalwork.

This slim 120-page hardback book is a great introduction to the history, context, and artistry of the cast iron architectural detailing around Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods. The text of the book is incredible informative and covers cast iron fences and railings, porches, and building fronts, and also has sections on Richmond in the 19th century, iron manufacture in Richmond, and 20th century metalwork. The book is generously illustrated with photographs of the details and buildings mentioned in the text.

Cast and Wrought – The Architectural Metalwork of Richmond, Virginia was published in 1980 by the Valentine Museum (now the Valentine Richmond History Center).

The book is especially good in that it made me want to go out and look around with a fresh eye. Here is a set of photos inspired by the book, some of which are shown below.

Leigh Street Baptist Church
Leigh Street Baptist Church
Winston House, 103 East Grace Street
112 West Clay Street
00 block of East Clay Street
2715 East Grace Street
Pace-King House, 205 North 19th Street
Confederate Memorial Cemetery, Hebrew Cemetery
The Egyptian Building, East Marshall and College Streets

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Luke Sponholz
Luke Sponholz
11 years ago

Time for a new subject photo safari!

11 years ago

Thanks for the photos, John! The wealth of cast iron in the city really is amazing – I seem to remember hearing somewhere that a lot of cities lost their cast iron in the metal recycling drives in WWII. I wonder if that really was the case, and if so, how did so much survive here?

11 years ago

I’ve been to many other southern cities and IMHO none compare in the variety or sheer quantity of existing ironwork as we have here in Richmond. It really is so lovely, and distinctive.

My favorite designs are figural, like the colonial ladies heads I spotted on Grace Street and in the Fan, or the Jesus head with Grapes at Hollywood Cemetery.

I’ve also taken lately to counting horsehead hitching posts, four sites at last count! {Hey, it keeps me amused :-p}
Does anyone know of more?

3 years ago

I was told by a long time resident of church hill that a lot of the iron work in CH is not in fact original. The original iron work was removed during one of the world wars… Then when people started to revitalize the neighborhood maybe in the 40s?, ironwork was brought in from Baltimore and people in CH bought it for something like $3 a foot …. that’s why it’s mismatched along Franklin st.

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